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Insurance Discrimination in the UK – Life Insurance and Genetic Risk

  1. Jacqueline Needs

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020658



How to Cite

Needs, J. 2007. Insurance Discrimination in the UK – Life Insurance and Genetic Risk. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. ESRC Centre for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen), Cardiff University, Wales, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007


Life Insurers in the UK have operated within a moratorium on the use of predictive genetic test results since 2001. Prior to this, controversy surrounded the use and interpretation of genetic tests by insurers and led to pressure for legislation to prevent discrimination. The original moratorium applied for five years until November 2006; in March 2005 an extension to the moratorium was announced for a further five years until November 2011. The article explains the events which led to the moratorium, the difficulties of underwriting genetic test results and monitoring the activities of insurers during the moratorium. Research of adverse selection and discrimination is discussed, with reference to the UK, Europe and United States.


  • Insurance;
  • predictive genetic tests;
  • discrimination;
  • adverse selection;
  • moratorium