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Is your Insurance Company using your DNA?


Ever since DNA testing and the paternity test became more accessible, there have been ethical fears that people could be discriminated against based on their genes. Concerns such as whether employers would use genetic tests to decide whether or not to hire an employee may seem the stuff of science fiction, but stories are already emerging in the press. And one recent story that involved a DNA test and an insurance company has caused outrage.

Tragic Death

In 2006, a leading insurance company made a toddler give a DNA sample in order to carry out a paternity test to prove her father was in fact her father. The man in question had died tragically in a motorbike accident, but the insurance company refused to pay out insurance on his life for the upkeep of his child until a paternity DNA test proved he was in fact the child’s father. A leading tabloid newspaper, The Mirror, also revealed that even when the test came back as positive, the insurance company tried to cut the compensation back.

Father’s Death Prompts Test

The father was killed six months before the toddler was born by a driver who admitted careless driving. The mother of the child took the matter in hand and asked for an award for lost earnings from the driver. But the insurance company resisted unless a paternity test was taken on the child. The paternity DNA test was taken by using a DNA swab [see glossary of terms for more about swabs] from the child and DNA samples from the child’s father’s parents.

Paternity Test Positive But Compensation Still in Dispute

The paternity DNA test caused months of heartbreak, delay and upset for the family who would have been due an award of £191,110 once the test results came through. The insurance company appealed the award saying that even though the test results were positive, they felt the figure was too high. They believed that the argument that the child deserved the same material standard of life if her father had lived wasn’t necessarily correct, as the couple may have split up. They also felt the compensation was judged to be too high.

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