Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 13:46 UK

Genetic data banned for insurers

genetic test
The next review of the moratorium will be in 2011

A temporary ban on the results of genetic tests being made available to insurance companies has been extended by three years.

The moratorium which ran out in 2011 will now stand until 2014.

It means people seeking insurance do not have to reveal the results of genetic tests which could point to the risk of serious illness in the future.

The temporary ban has been in place since 2001 and campaigners have urged for it to be extended.

The voluntary UK moratorium covers income protection policies up to the value of 30,000 per year, critical illness up to the value of 300,000, and life insurance of 500,000. It accounts for about 97% of insurance policies.

Strong campaign

Life insurers already use complex calculations based on age, existing illnesses, lifestyle and weight to calculate the expected lifespan, and the risk of disease in someone applying for a policy.

It means people can insure themselves and their families, even if they have had an adverse result from a predictive genetic test
Stephen Haddrill, ABI

Some health professionals say that there are genetic "markers" for common serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

But campaigners fear unfair discrimination such as increased premiums or a rejection of insurance if disclosure of genetic tests was granted.

They argue that a positive test for a "disease" gene does not mean illness is certain.

Extension welcomed

The extension of the temporary ban on the right of companies to ask for disclosure of all but one genetic test has been welcomed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

"The moratorium on the use of predictive genetic test results works well for consumers," said ABI director general Stephen Haddrill.

"It means people can insure themselves and their families, even if they have had an adverse result from a predictive genetic test."

There is one exception to the ban. When issuing a life insurance policy worth more than 500,000, insurers have been granted the right to ask for results of medical tests for the gene which causes Huntington's Disease.

The next review of the moratorium will take place in 2011.


SEE ALSO
Insurers mull cancer gene tests
08 May 07 |  Health
Serious diseases genes revealed
06 Jun 07 |  Health

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific