U.K. issues new insurance rules on sexual orientation
Responding to complaints that the United Kingdom's insurance companies regularly discriminate against men perceived to be gay and assumed to be at higher risk for HIV infection, the Association of British Insurers this month issued new guidelines on sexual orientation, The Guardian reports. The association's new best-practice guidelines, which take effect later this year, prevent insurance companies from making assumptions about an individual's sexuality or risk of HIV infection due to occupation and forbid the companies from questioning an applicant's physician about the applicant's sexual orientation. In the past, men applying for life and critical illness insurance who worked as dancers, hairstylists, or flight attendants were commonly assumed to be gay and forced to complete lengthy "lifestyle" questionnaires, faced loaded premiums, and even occasionally were required to be screened for HIV infection--none of which were routinely required for applicants assumed to be straight. The new guidelines are designed to require insurance companies to assess all applicants "on the basis of relevant and accurate information without intrusive or inappropriate questioning," insurance officials say.