Genetic Testing and Insurance Cover, Ctd.

Article published on 19th June 2008

The subject of predictive genetic testing - the US experience of which was discussed in our last article - is also a growing issue of concern here in the United Kingdom.

In 2001, the British government and the Association of British Insurers started a 5 year moratorium (or freeze) on the use of genetic test results, meaning that no-one could be disallowed health insurance, critical illness insurance or life insurance on the basis of predictive genetic testing.

The only exception was when the cover being sought exceeded a set amount and when the genetic test is recognised by the Genetics and Insurance Committee as positively identifying a certainty of disease - currently only Huntingdon disease is recognised as being so definably predictable.

The British moratorium was started in response to growing concerns that predictive genetic testing was being used to prevent people from getting the insurance they wanted by certain companies. Bearing in mind that predictive genetic testing is by no means an exact science yet, this was understandably deemed as being unfair to customers.

The British insurance sector is still operating under the moratorium which suspends the use of the results from predictive genetic test for life insurance policies worth £500,000 or less, with lower limits in place for income protection insurance and critical illness insurance. These restrictions have been in place since the moratorium began in 2001 and will remain in place until it is fully reviewed in 2011.

As things are, the moratorium is binding to about 97% of all the relevant insurance policies on offer to British citizens.

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