chapter  3
22 Pages

The quest for insurability in the molecular age

In October 2000 The Economist celebrated what was presented as an unprecedented decision by a committee set up by the British government to allow life insurers access to the results of consumers’ genetic tests.1 The decision was heralded as the beginning of ‘a new era for the industry’. Arguing that ‘Britain had done the right thing’ and that ‘access to the results of more tests would undoubtedly follow’, the article stated that life insurers should be allowed to operate under sound liberal principles and that every effort towards legislation against insurers’ use of genetic testing should be resisted.2 The article finally argued that the problem of ‘how to deal with the unlucky owners of harmful genes’ was a government issue and insurers should not be expected to behave as another social service.3