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Right to be forgotten must account for how insurance works

15-11-2021

Insurance Europe has published a position paper entitled: The EC Beating Cancer Plan — reflections on the right to be forgotten. This comes in response to the European Commission’s February 2021 Beating Cancer Plan, which envisages the development of a code of conduct with relevant stakeholders, and ongoing work by the European Parliament in its Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA).

A right to be forgotten that disregards how private insurance works (ie, the pooling of risks) would have a negative effect on the availability of insurance, its price, and the choice or benefits that insurers could offer for all consumers. For example, if the price of the premium is no longer linked to the risks posed by the insured, some consumers will pay too much relative to the risk they bring to the insurer, while others will underpay for the cover they secure relative to the risks they carry.

Insurers are subject to legislative and regulatory requirements when offering and concluding contracts for insurance with consumers. Since insurance operates by pooling the risks of many, the fairness of terms (such as premiums and benefits) is determined not only from an individual consumer’s perspective, but also with regard to the larger group of consumers whose risks are pooled together. This pooling is done based on the risk of the insured event happening while seeking to achieve a premium rate and associated benefits that consumers will find attractive. This ensures that there is minimal anti-selection and is dependent on the existence of no, or little, information-asymmetry existing.

It is therefore critical that any EU-wide right to be forgotten:

  • Is flexible enough to reflect the many different types of cancer and other factors (such as variations in treatment outcomes in particular member states or regions) affecting the risk associated with a given cancer,
  • Is flexible enough to meet the differing needs and characteristics of countries and markets, and
  • Preserves the ability of insurers to individually determine premiums and benefits based on risk-relevant factors.

Insurance Europe therefore advocates an implementation of any right to be forgotten at EU level via a flexible code of conduct, agreed to by all stakeholders involved, that can be smoothly adapted to scientific developments. 

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