Your genes in insurance: from genetic discrimination to genomic solidarity

Ine Van Hoyweghen*, Lisa Rebert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Advances in genomics and postgenomics have renewed interest in the impact of genomic health information on private life insurance across Europe. These developments reopen the issue of how genes apart from being the object of discrimination (exclusion) also operate as generators of solidarity (inclusion). This article traces several developments in regulating genetics and life insurance and its social implications in the European context. At first, genes were viewed as a source of differentiation, which led to fears of 'genetic discrimination' in life insurance. In response, genetic nondiscrimination regulations were enacted across Europe. Current debates on the use of genomic health information in life insurance have actually opened up possibilities for a form of genomic solidarity between 'all of us'. The introduction of genes and genomes appears to turn private life insurance practices of actuarial risk discrimination increasingly into 'discriminatory' practices by challenging the larger fundamental 'right to underwrite'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-877
JournalPersonalized Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • ethics
  • genetic discrimination
  • genetic nondiscrimination regulations
  • life insurance
  • nondiscrimination
  • social impact of personalized medicine
  • solidarity

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