ABI Members Won’t Use Genetic Tests

April 25, 2001

The ongoing controversy in the U.K. over the use of genetic testing by the insurance industry took a new turn on Tuesday with the announcement by the Association of British Insurers that its members will not use genetic testing in screening insurance applications.

The move came as the government is considering imposing at least a two year moratorium on the use of any such tests. So far only one application of genetic testing – for Huntington’s Chorea – has been approved, but studies are under way to link certain genes with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease and certain types of breast and ovarian cancer which appear to be hereditary.

Consumer groups oppose the tests, as they feel individuals could be singled out by their use, and be denied insurance or forced to pay higher premiums. Insurers contend that proper risk assessment is an underwriting necessity, which, while it may indicate higher levels of risk for some individuals, could actually lower the risk involved for others.

The ABI coupled its announcement with a commitment to work with the government’s Human Genetics Commission in order to work out a solution to the problem that would be fair to all parties.

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