Press release

Insurers continue to safeguard cover for those taking predictive genetic tests

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Thousands of people who have genetic tests for conditions such as Alzheimers and cancer will continue to benefit when taking out insurance thanks to an extended agreement announced today by Public Health Minister Anne Milton.

The agreement with the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the Concordat and Moratorium on Genetics and Insurance, continues to guarantee that anyone who has had a predictive test to assess their susceptibility to genetic conditions, such as breast and ovarian cancer, can take out significant insurance cover without disclosing the results.

The agreement has been extended to 2017 and sets out that all future reviews of the agreement will take place three years before the provisional end date. This will give consumers enough time to prepare if there are any changes. The agreement has also been simplified to make it easier to understand. The next planned review will be held in 2014.

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said:

“This is an excellent agreement that has benefited many consumers. The extension and strengthening of it will make sure that the public continue to have the confidence to use predictive genetic tests whilst being reassured that they can still get insurance.”

Stephen Gay, Director of Life, Savings and Protection at the ABI said:

“The agreement on genetics and insurance has provided a lot of reassurance for people since its introduction. This is the second time it has been reviewed and extended, which means people will continue to be able to take out very sizeable amounts of insurance without having to disclose predictive genetic test results.”

Notes editors

For further information contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 4990.

Example:
If a 30 year old woman has a mother who has breast cancer, she may wish to take a predictive genetic test to find out whether she is at risk. Under the current agreement, she can continue to take out significant levels of insurance without having to tell her insurers, but may prefer not to take a predictive genetic test in case the agreement ends and she is required to disclose results for future insurance cover. 

Under the new agreement, because reviews are conducted three years before the scheduled end date, she will have enough time to secure cover before any changes to the agreement are in place, without having to disclose test results. Once insurance cover is in place there is no obligation to disclose any further medical information or results.

Background

The agreement covers all predictive genetic tests, but contains a process for the approval of any tests the insurance industry may wish to use in the future, for example, where there is a particular high risk of developing a disease associated with mutations to a single gene, and where the disease becomes apparent in later life.
Any potential future use of predictive genetic results for other conditions will need to meet specified conditions.  It will need to:
• be listed in the UK Genetic Testing Network’s Directory of Genetic Testing
• be for a monogenic condition (a single gene inherited from either or both parents)
• be late-onset - a condition with symptoms delayed until adult ages
• be a condition with a high probability that those with the particular gene pattern will develop the disease (high penetrance).

Since 2000, only one test of this kind has been approved. Insurers can ask for the results of tests for Huntington’s Disease for life insurance policies over £500,000.
A copy of the agreement can be found on the DH website.