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Will you live to 100?

A while ago the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a team of scientists at Boston University claimed to be able to predict - with 77 per cent accuracy - which of us will live to 100. The scientists did this by comparing the DNA of more than 1,000 people aged 100 or over with that of the general population, finding a “genetic signature” that was linked to "exceptional longevity".

Soon to be made available in the U.K, the test measures the length of telomeres, a DNA structure which controls the longevity of dividing cells. The shorter the telomere, the faster you are aging. A very specific blood test can determine telomere length and, based on the length can use an algorithm to assess longevity based on current lifestyle. While the test will not tell you the exact date or year of your demise, it can make predictions within a decade. Source: Healthnews.com:

What would happen if you knew that, failing an accident or a natural disaster, you’re likely to live to be 100 or only 65? How would that affect your life and savings goals. And in particular, how would it affect the cost of your life insurance?

Today, standard life insurance premiums are based on the expectation that your lifespan will be that of the average person in New Zealand; that's 82.2 years if you’re female and 78.0 years if you’re male. When you apply for life insurance, the insurer will ask you a range of questions to assess if you’re likely to die earlier than an “average” person of your age and gender. If you are, you’ll be charged higher (loaded) premiums.

But Life Insurance companies typically don’t have processes to check if you’re likely to live longer than average with a view to reducing your premiums. So if you turned up at an insurance company with a favourable DNA test, you’d currently still pay the ‘standard’ rate. Guess that will need to change wont it?

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