Life insurance and genetic testing
Genetic testing might revolutionise diagnosis, but imagine being denied life insurance because of the result. Sanjay Budhdeo investigates
Life insurance enables people with dependents to guard against the financial risk of their death and to help with savings. This requires regular payments to an insurance company, calculated on the likelihood that a claim will be made. Insurance companies currently use a variety of information to assess this risk, including diagnostic tests and family history. Genetic tests are currently common for diseases such as Huntingdon's chorea and Duchenne muscular dystrophy and increasingly probable for other diseases with rapidly advancing technology.
After worries from insurers and the public, many countries have enacted legislation to prevent the use of genetic information in insurance testing. In the United Kingdom genetic tests do not need to be disclosed as long as the insurance policy has a value under £500 000.1 In the United States the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prevents employers from using genetic information to raise premiums or deny coverage.2 In Australia