Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Co-operative Insurance Society Limited, following the evidence session of 7 February

  Following the Science and Technology Select Committee's inquiry into Genetics and Insurance, and your offer to witnesses to forward further information, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate a few points and clarify any ambiguity which may have arisen, following the evidence session last Wednesday.

  As detailed in our evidence to the Committee, the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) does not require the disclosure of genetic test results for life assurance policies and will only require, if obtained, the use of approval GAIC test results for critical illness cover. Since the GAIC is yet to approve any tests for critical illness policies, CIS is in effect applying a full moratorium on the use of genetic tests results for all insurance products at present.

  Evidence given to the select committee hearing on 7 February illustrated that, despite the minimum standards offered by the ABI code, there are clear differences of approach being adopted within the industry, and that this is in itself causing certain amounts of confusion externally. Despite this, all parties agreed that legislation is not necessarily the most effective means to remedy this situation.

  As an insurer with strong co-operative ideas underpinning our business practices, CIS would like to see the following:

    —  revision of existing practices so that the entire insurance industry commits to using only approved GAIC tests for insurance purposes instead of the existing system which has caused, despite its well-meaning intent, some confusion and variation in practice;

    —  open dialogue between all relevant stakeholders as suggested during the oral evidence session. In this light, CIS welcomes and is contributing to the Human Genetics Commission's Consultation "Who's Hands on your Genes?" and supports the need for ongoing input from all interested parties in order to empower stakeholders and find workable solutions for what is an emotive issue; and

    —  an agreed solution to the potential problems of "genetic underclass". CIS would encourage and participate in any industry working party created to ensure that no section of society is denied basic life assurance, purely on the basis of a positive genetic test result.

  I believe that the above points indicate that CIS is not only aware of current public concerns surroundings genetics and insurance, but is actively leading the way in "best practice" to ensure that the fear is allayed and stakeholders remain informed and empowered.

  Thank you for asking CIS to give evidence to the Committee; it was a significant honour to provide evidence for what remains a highly emotive issue. If we can be of any assistance to the Committee in the future please do not hesitate to contact us.

13 February 2001

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