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Full Access Risk Assessment vs. Right to Privacy: The Access to Health Information on the Insurance Candidate through Questionnaires and the Right to Privacy

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Risk Assessment vs. Right to Privacy: The Access to Health Information on the Insurance Candidate through Questionnaires and the Right to Privacy

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Abstract The need of private insurers for information on the candidate’s health risks is recognized by the law, which places pre-contractual duties of disclosure upon the candidates. When the risks are influenced by health factors, e.g. in the case of life- and health insurances, it implies the provision of health information by the candidates, who thus voluntarily limit their right to privacy. This consent, however, often happens in a context of factual coercion to contract. Next to this, from a legal standpoint, the collection of personal information must respond to the principle of proportionality. Against this background, this article assesses the compatibility of questionnaire techniques that rely on open-ended health related questions with the right to privacy, as protected by Portuguese and international law. It then analyses the extent of pre-contractual duties of disclosure as defined by the Portuguese Insurance Act, which requires the candidate to volunteer all the relevant information independently of being asked for it. In doing so, the article also refers to some other European countries. It concludes that the relevant Portuguese legislation is incompatible both with Portuguese constitutional law and with international law.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, University of Coimbra Portugal

Abstract The need of private insurers for information on the candidate’s health risks is recognized by the law, which places pre-contractual duties of disclosure upon the candidates. When the risks are influenced by health factors, e.g. in the case of life- and health insurances, it implies the provision of health information by the candidates, who thus voluntarily limit their right to privacy. This consent, however, often happens in a context of factual coercion to contract. Next to this, from a legal standpoint, the collection of personal information must respond to the principle of proportionality. Against this background, this article assesses the compatibility of questionnaire techniques that rely on open-ended health related questions with the right to privacy, as protected by Portuguese and international law. It then analyses the extent of pre-contractual duties of disclosure as defined by the Portuguese Insurance Act, which requires the candidate to volunteer all the relevant information independently of being asked for it. In doing so, the article also refers to some other European countries. It concludes that the relevant Portuguese legislation is incompatible both with Portuguese constitutional law and with international law.

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2013-01-01
2016-12-02

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