Life Insurance for Living Kidney Donors: A Canadian Undercover Investigation
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Some living kidney donors encounter difficulties obtaining life insurance, despite previous surveys of insurance companies reporting otherwise. To better understand the effect of donation on insurability, we contacted offices of life insurance companies in five major cities in Canada to obtain $100 000 of life insurance (20-year term) for 40 fictitious living kidney donors and 40 paired controls. These profiles were matched on age, gender, family history of kidney disease and presence of hypertension. The companies were blinded to data collection. The study protocol was reviewed by the Office of Research Ethics. The main study outcomes were the annual premium quoted and total time spent on the phone with the insurance agent. All donor and control profiles received a quote, with no significant difference in the premium quoted (medians $190 vs. $209, p = 0.89). More time was spent on the phone for donor compared to control profiles, but the absolute difference was small (medians 9.5 vs. 7.0 min, p = 0.046). Age, gender, family history of kidney disease and new-onset hypertension had no further effect on donor insurability in regression analysis. We found no evidence that kidney donors were disadvantaged in the first step of applying for life insurance. The effect donation has on subsequent phases of insurance underwriting remains to be studied.
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