23 April 2000 – No embargo


Following recent reports that many insurance companies are failing to give practical effect to the Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) Code of Practice on genetic testing, an actuary has argued that a much firmer approach from the Department of Health is required.

Guy Thomas, principal of Varsity Actuarial Limited a consulting and investment firm said:

"Recent reports suggest that many insurance companies cannot be trusted to give practical effect to even the weak code of practice suggested by their trade association. Many people are concerned about insurers’ use of genetic tests and these concerns may be well founded.

The legislative framework for genetic testing in insurance in the UK is already one of the most lenient in the world. Many European countries have sensible restrictions on the use of genetic testing by insurers, which recognise the profound social implications which unrestricted use of such testing could entail. The UK government, in contrast, appears to be planning to give insurers almost a free rein in the use and abuse of genetic tests.

The results of the recent Alzheimer’s Society survey suggest that the insurance industry cannot be trusted on this issue. The government is making a serious mistake."

Guy Thomas 01227 463214


Notes for editors

  1. Guy Thomas, 35, is an actuary and investor and a former Principal Examiner of the Faculty & Institute of Actuaries. He was until recently head of actuarial science at the University of Kent.
  2. The Alzheimer’s Society’s press release about their survey of insurance company application forms is at www.alzheimers.org.uk/news3b.htm .
  3. The Faculty and Institute of Actuaries has published a position statement on genetic testing, available at www.actuaries.org.uk/news/genetics_pos.html. Guy Thomas disagrees with some aspects of this statement, particularly the opposition to restrictions on insurance companies.
  4. There is a research centre on genetic testing in insurance at Heriot-Watt University www.ma.hw.ac.uk/ams/res/girc.html. This is funded by the insurance industry.