A major utility company is set to enter the private medical insurance (PMI) market, sources said.

It is understood that Centrica, which operates the AA, Goldfish, British Gas and One.Tel, will lau ...

A major utility company is set to enter the private medical insurance (PMI) market, sources said.

It is understood that Centrica, which operates the AA, Goldfish, British Gas and One.Tel, will launch in the PMI market, but plans are still in the early stages.

A source close to the project said Centrica's plan is to provide access to everything to do with personal lines insurance, including house and home insurance from one place.

He said that a software company has started work on the system used to consolidate Centrica's different offerings.

A Centrica spokesman would make no comment on its insurance plans, but said the company is often in discussions with regards to new developments.

This news comes in a week when a leading scientist said the industry was threatened by genetic advances.

Nobel prize-winning scientist

Sir Paul Nurse said private health insurers would not be able to deal with genetics' predictive power and would "go defunct" due to the removal of risk from the equation.

Standard Life Healthcare chief executive Mike Hall disputed this: "If I had £5 for every prediction for the end of PMI, I would be a rich man."

Hall, who is also chairman of the ABI's PMI committee, confirmed that there was an ABI moratorium on genetic testing so PMI was a product based on delivering cover to everyone.

An ABI spokeswoman said there would always be a need for PMI and that we are a "long way down the line" from thorough genetic testing.