Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Zurich Financial Services

  Zurich Financial Services is one of the world's leading providers of insurance and financial services and its UK Life businesses currently provide life assurance, pensions and investments solutions through the Zurich Life, Allied Dunbar and Eagle Star brands in the UK. We welcome the opportunity to have input and views on important industry matters.

  We have been closely following the developments on genetics for some time. I would like to answer your questions in the order asked in your letter:

  (1)  Our policy is to follow the ABI Code of Practice for all aspects of the use of genetic test results. In particular, we do not ask for a genetic test to be carried out and we only use previous genetic test results where the Code permits.

  (2)  Again our policy is to follow the ABI Code of Practice. We recognise the importance of seeking and obtaining the best advice possible for applications involving genetic test results. We are aware that the GAIC and the ABI are currently assessing their reliability and suitability for the insurance industry to continue to use. Therefore, any application which has any mention of a genetic test or referral to a Geneticist are referred initially to our Nominated Genetics Underwriter. He will then obtain the advice of our Consultant Medical Officers, our own Geneticist, our reassurance company and if necessary, the ABI's Geneticist, Professor Sandy Raeburn, before making a final decision.

  (3)  We currently only use those genetic test results agreed within the ABI Code of Practice in assessing risk. In the future, we would only anticipate using other genetic test results as and when agreed by the GAIC and the ABI. We do not currently anticipate using genetic test results for diseases which are not single gene defects or where there are non-genetic influences. In these cases we would continue to use the client's own medical history and family history as we do now.

  (4)  We feel that the current regulatory system has been very effective. We provided input to the ABI in the formation of the original Code and follow it closely. We also feel that the current regulatory system helps promote the ongoing dialogue between all interested parties including geneticists and insurers. We feel that this is continuing to form an approach to genetic testing which benefits everybody.

  The regulatory approach is robust and given the level of interest from the media, genetic interest groups and the public, we continue to treat the whole subject with the greatest of respect and sensitivity. We have a particular interest in understanding the reliability of genetic test results and are currently contributing to the research being carried out by Professor Angus McDonald.

19 January 2001

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