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Five-year ban on genetic test results

The use of all genetic test results by life offices is to be banned for five years in an agreement announced this week between the ABI and the Government.

In response to the Parlia-mentary science and technology committee&#39s report on the use of tests by life offices for underwriting life and protection products, the Department of Health and ABI jointly announced the moratorium, which starts on November 1.

The industry welcomed the move, saying it gives everyone involved breathing space to decide in what capacity genetics should be used in deciding insurance premiums or whether to provide cover at all.

Insurers will be permitted to use test results for life policies worth more than £500,000 and £300,000 on other types of cover such as critical-illness cover or income protection.

The use of the negative test results benefiting the applicant, such as a result which goes against a family history of a particular disease, is still permitted but, under the new guidelines, life offices must make it clear that this is the only reason they are using the information.

The moratorium will be reviewed after three years.

ABI director general Mary Francis says: “Insurers, the public and Parliament have many understandable concerns about the use of genetic test results. There is a complex web of issues to consider, including the principle that insurance companies should have access to the same information as applicants.”

CIS general manager Mike Fairbairn says: “CIS welc-omes this extended moratorium which brings the industry extra breathing space on this emotive issue.

“It is crucial that we all use this time wisely and productively to build a lasting and acceptable solution for the years to come.”

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