23andMe and life insurance

I get lots of queries from blog readers (am always surprised people read this drivel), mostly about concerns regarding 23andMe and whether this will or could affect life insurance policies. I always answer in a non-commited, got to make your own mind up, kind of way. Prompted by the latest caller, I thought I’d ask the wisdom of the crowds so turned to Twitter. You can read the storify of the exchange but a precis follows:

Note: this does not constitute formal legal advice! I provide this information merely as a comment on the current situation within the UK.

It turns out that UK insurers (I have not investigated other jurisdictions) have a voluntary moratorium with the UK Government against the use of predictive genetic testing in insurance cases that is valid until 2019. Please read the full text of the moratorium, but I include two sections of particular relevance here:

21. Insurers agree to the following:

a. customers will not be asked, nor will they be put under pressure, to take a predictive genetic test to obtain insurance cover;

b. customers who have taken a predictive test before the date of this Concordat will be treated in the same way as customers taking tests under the terms of the

c. customers will not be required to disclose any of the following:

i. a predictive genetic test result from a test taken after the insurance cover has started, for as long as that cover is in force;
ii. the predictive test result of another person, such as a blood relative; or
iii. a predictive or diagnostic test result acquired as part of clinical research (for example, the 100,000 Genomes Project) To avoid doubt,  customers may be asked to disclose details of any symptoms, diagnosis or treatment received outside of the clinical research programme, even if those relate to a condition they found out about through the research programme.

d. customers making relevant insurance applications will be required to disclose a predictive genetic test result only if all of the following apply;

i. the customer is seeking insurance cover above the financial limits set out in the Moratorium;
ii. the test has been assessed by a panel of experts and approved by Government. To date, the only test that people are required to disclose
under the agreement is for Huntington’s Disease for life insurance where the insured sum is over £500,000. Any change to the list of approved
tests would be notified on the ABI and Department of Health websites

iii. the insurer asks the customer to disclose the information.


26. The terms of the Moratorium are as follows.

I. Customers will not be required to disclose the results of predictive genetic tests for policies up to £500,000 of life insurance, or £300,000 for critical illness insurance, or paying annual benefits of £30,000 for income protection insurance (the ‘financial limits’).

II. When the cumulative value of insurance exceeds the financial limits, insurers may seek information about, and customers must disclose, tests approved with the Government for use for a particular insurance product, subject to the restrictions in the Concordat.

III. The Government will announce and the ABI will publish on its website the date of the next review which will be three years before the expiry date of the current Moratorium.

Thanks to @ewanbirney and @TheABB for pointing me at this information.


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