Page URL:

Insurance industry agrees to genetic test moratorium

29 October 2001
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 131

Insurance companies in the UK have agreed to impose a voluntary five-year ban on the use of genetic testing. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) announced last week that it agrees with the government on a policy of not asking people seeking insurance to reveal their DNA test results unless they were seeking life insurance cover greater than £500,000 or critical illness cover greater than £300,000. For policies above these amounts, the results of genetic tests may be used but only where approved by the Genetics and Insurance Committee. The financial limits will be reviewed after three years. The ABI says that the ban will bind all of its members, said to represent 97 per cent of the industry.

The moratorium is to last longer than the two years recommended by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and the three years recommended by the Human Genetics Commission (HGC). The director general of the ABI, Mary Francis, said that 'the agreement will enable us to have a rational and informed discussion about the best way forward for the UK on genetics and insurance'.

The agreement was welcomed by health minister Lord Hunt, who said that 'the moratorium will ensure that genetics and insurance issues can be progressed in an environment of mutual respect between all the main interests and I look forward to a continuing dialogue with the ABI and all those who have an interest in this subject'.

Baroness Helena Kennedy, chair of the HGC, said in a statement, 'we are pleased that the Government and the insurance industry have accepted the need for full debate on the use of genetic tests for assessing insurance and we urge all companies in the industry to fully abide by the new moratorium'.

Insurance needs a genetic code
The Independent on Sunday |  28 October 2001
Insurers could break gene test ban
The Sunday Times |  28 October 2001
Insurers in 5-year ban on genetic screening
The Financial Times |  24 October 2001
Insurers will ignore genetic test results
The Guardian |  24 October 2001
29 January 2007 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The proposed Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act 2007 is poised for fast-track consideration through the US Congress. It was reintroduced into the US House of Representatives earlier this month (HR 493), with its prospects for successful passage into law appearing better than similar past attempts. The Act aims...
16 February 2006 - by BioNews 
Nobel prize winner Sir John Sulston has repeated his call for new UK laws to prevent genetic discrimination. He says that when the current moratorium on the use of genetic tests results by insurers runs out, in November 2011, it should be replaced by legislation. Professor Sulston, who is vice-chair...
4 November 2005 - by BioNews 
Some Australian insurance companies are discriminating against people who have taken predictive genetic tests, according to the government-funded Genetic Discrimination Project. A survey carried out by the group identified 87 people who have suffered 'specific instances of negative treatment', according to New Scientist magazine. Team leader Kristine Barlow-Stewart reported the...
14 March 2005 - by BioNews 
The current restrictions on the use of genetic test results by UK insurers will be extended until November 2011, the government has announced. A five-year moratorium imposed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) was due to expire in November 2006. The new agreement forms part of a binding framework...
6 February 2004 - by Professor Graeme Laurie 
The Human Genetics Commission (HGC) MORI poll of public attitudes towards human genetic information showed that reliance on genetic information in insurance decisions is considered to be the least appropriate use of that information. Four out of every five respondents decried such a use. It was as a result of...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.