The British insurance industry has a poor understanding of Hepatitis C and life assurance policies for people living with the virus can vary considerably.

Compass, the gay financial advisers, contacted 10 companies and found that nine of them were unable to provide clear information around Hepatitis C.

Some companies started their loading insurance policies at 50%, whilst others started at 200%.

Each life assurance company is writing their own rules around Hep C, and there are no existing industry guidelines.

“Once again, the life assurance industry are burying their heads in the sand over an issue that could seriously affect their risk pool,” said Chris Morgan, MD of Compass.

“Our recent research concludes that each company has very different ideas on how each applicant with Hep C should be treated.

“We’ve contacted the Association of British Insurers, and they’ve confirmed that they currently have no guidelines for the way that Hep C is treated within the life assurance industry.

“When you consider that an estimated 500,000 people in the United Kingdom are currently affected by Hep C, this is somewhat remarkable.”

Compass want the Association of British Insurers to “take a closer look at the underwriting of Hep C,” and ensure that applicants are treated with respect — and without intrusive questions.

The ABI worked effectively with the industry to ensure good practice around HIV.

Compass said the knowledge gained from the removal of discrimination around HIV could prove invaluable in looking after people living with Hepatitis C.

The Hep C virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids and displays few symptoms, is an “increasing problem” for gay men.

The Hepatitis C Trust estimate that nine out of ten people infected with Hepatitis C don’t even know.

Unlike Hepatitis A and B, there is currently no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

The disease is transmitted via blood to blood contact including sex, tattooing, sharing cocaine straws or notes and even sharing an infected person’s razor or toothbrush.