LONDON — When it comes to the subject of genetic testing, insurance companies rarely get a good press. But the agreement between the UK Government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to implement a five-year moratorium, has undoubtedly cast the industry in a new light. During this period insurers will only request genetic information on certain diseases where the policies involve large amounts of cover. For its part, the government will not bring forward restrictive legislation.

The idea is that the moratorium will provide a breathing space for all parties to disentangle the ethics of a vexed situation. In the meantime, the ABI will monitor whether insurers are complying with the voluntary rules agreed between themselves and the Department of Health.

These state that from 1 November 2001 insurers will not take genetic data into consideration when evaluating premiums unless the government's Genetics and Insurance Committee has approved...

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