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UK Insurers Extend Genetic Testing Moratorium

By a GenomeWeb Staff Reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The UK's main insurance industry trade association has extended its agreement with the Department of Health to maintain a moratorium on using predictive genetic tests to determine insurance qualification through 2017, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said this week.

The moratorium, which began in 2001 and was renewed in 2005 and again this month, means that the results of predictive genetic tests will not affect a consumer's ability to take out insurance policies other than life insurance policies that are more than £500,000 ($817,000). Around three percent of policies are over that amount, ABI said.

"The [moratorium agreement] on the use of predictive genetic test results works well for consumers," Nick Starling, ABI's director of general insurance and health, said in a statement.

"It means people can insure themselves and their families, even if they have had an adverse result from a predictive genetic test."

For life insurance policies over £500,000, insurers are allowed only to use results from predictive tests that have been specifically approved by the government as relevant to insurers, which at this time includes only a test for Huntington's Disease.

"This is an excellent agreement that has benefitted both patients and consumers. The extension of the moratorium will ensure that the public continue to have confidence in using predictive genetic tests and being insured," UK Health Minister Anne Milton said.

Because insurers are likely to ask for family history information, consumers may provide insurance companies the results of a genetic test that shows normal status, or that counter a family history of a disease, to show they may have a lowered risk of getting the disease.

ABI said that it will partner with the Department of Health three years before the end of each extension to review the genetic testing policy, meaning the next review will be in 2014.

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