Letter: Genetic tests could keep premiums low

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The Independent Online
Sir: Tom Wilkie has stimulated some correspondence concerning insurance 'When the gene is let out of the bottle' (24 March), and I thought it worth setting the record straight.

In discussing health insurance schemes in America, he attributes to UK insurers the aim of demanding applicants to supply the result of genetic testing. As he rightly says, tests for many conditions are some years away and the UK life insurance industry has no intention, within the foreseeable future, of seeking genetic tests on proposers for life, health or pensions policies.

Equally, however, where the results of such tests form part of the medical record they should be included as part of the overall assessment of the risk. It is by such careful assessment that the industry is able to accept more than 99 per cent of proposals received. If insurers were not able to seek relevant medical information, they might have to assume a worst-case scenario, with higher premiums across the board.

Genetics and its future course is a serious and complex subject, which the life insurance companies are approaching constructively.

Yours faithfully,


Chief Executive

Association of British Insurers

London, EC2