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Five-year deal for gene test pact

The moratorium on the use of genetic testing in the setting of insurance premiums has been extended from 2006 to 2011.

The Government agreed the five-year extension at the request of the Association of British Insurers. The terms of the moratorium will be reviewed in 2008.

The moratorium, which prevents insurers from using the results of genetic testing to increase premiums, was due to run out in November 2006.

Under the terms of the moratorium agreed in 2001, insurers could not ask customers whether they have had genetic testing unless they wanted to buy a life insurance policy worth more than 500,000, critical-illness insurance worth more than 300,000 and income protection insurance paying annual benefits of more than 30,000. These terms will now continue until 2008.

Insurers can otherwise ask for results on genetic tests approved by the Government’s genetics and insurance committee. Currently, only Huntington’s disease tests are approved. The committee had been considering approval for breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease tests.

ABI director general Mary Francis says: “This will provide welcome clarity and reassurance for both insurance companies and customers, well in advance of the current agreement next year.”

Scottish Widows market director, protection Nick Kirwan says: “It is very good news for the industry that this has been sorted now as nobody wanted this to become a political football.”

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