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'.
Sources and References
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Insurers in 5-year ban on genetic screening