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Insurance and Genetic Information

  1. Yvonne Bombard,
  2. Trudo Lemmens

Published Online: 19 APR 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005203.pub2



How to Cite

Bombard, Y. and Lemmens, T. 2010. Insurance and Genetic Information. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 APR 2010

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (15 MAY 2017)


With the accelerating pace of genetic technology comes increased opportunity for individuals to obtain additional risk estimates about their susceptibilities to disease. Insurers argue that they need to have access to any information that predicts disease risk because the amount that policyholders pay for insurance coverage is determined by assessing their level of risk. Without access to genetic information, insurers are concerned that individuals may purchase more insurance at unadjusted premiums, which may lead to the collapse of the market. However, people are reluctant to share genetic test results with insurers due to the potential risk of insurance discrimination. As genetic testing becomes more prevalent, there are concerns that sections of the population will be denied insurance because of their genetic profiles. The question of what governments should do about this is one that has been debated in many countries.

Key concept:

  • Despite the public's fear of insurance discrimination, insurers argue that genetic health information should be shared with them to enable underwriters to make an accurate assessment of the risk.


  • genetic information;
  • genetic testing;
  • insurance;
  • discrimination;
  • ethics;
  • public policy