Genetic illness: Insurance problems

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Indy Lifestyle Online

An insurance company has refused to give me a mortgage and critical illness insurance because some members of my family have a genetic condition called myotonic dystrophy. Several years ago I had a genetic test which showed that I do not carry the myotonic dystrophy gene and I will therefore not develop the disease. Are insurance companies allowed to refuse insurance on the basis of genetic illnesses?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Myotonic dystrophy is a type of muscular dystrophy. The condition is caused by a faulty gene that can be passed from parent to child. One of your father's parents must have carried the gene, and they passed it down to both your father and your uncle. Your father then passed the faulty gene down to your sister. You have clearly not inherited the faulty gene, and the genetic test that you had proves this. Unfortunately, insurance companies are allowed to refuse insurance if they think that you are at risk of developing a genetic condition. But in your case, the insurance company has made a mistake, because you can prove that the illness will never affect you. You should write to the chief medical officer of the insurance company and send them a copy of your genetic test result. If you get no joy you should contact the Financial Ombudsman Service: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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