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Genetics and insurance

Genetics is the science of how you inherit physical and behavioural characteristics. Genes are the ‘blueprint’ of your body contained in the DNA molecules that make up your chromosomes. They are the inherited characteristics passed on by your parents (or grandparents) to you.

For insurers, your physical health and ways of behaving are important factors for considering risk management and calculating your premium. 

Types of policies 

Life cover 

To set the level of cover and cost of your premiums, an insurer may ask for the results of a diagnostic genetic test as part of their examination of your medical history. Insurers cannot ask you to take a genetic test. Insurers can only ask for the results of a test if you have already taken one, and they can only ask for the results of a predictive genetic test for Huntington's disease where the life insurance cover is worth more than £500,000.

You can voluntarily disclose (tell your insurer) the results of a predictive test that might counteract a higher premium based on your family medical history.

Depending on the type of policy you take out, your insurer may want to assess factors such as:

  • your existing medical conditions 
  • your family history
  • diagnostic genetic test result
  • predictive genetic test result for Huntington's disease where the life insurance cover is more than £500,000
  • your occupation 

Things to consider

  • Your family history / your medical history
  • Ensuring confidentiality of the information you provide
  • What genetic testing involves
  • What kind of life cover would suit you best

Next steps