The Association of British Insurers claims this week's newspaper reports that the Government will allow insurers to genetically test policyholders are premature.

Several nationals suggested the Government was ready to allow insurance firms to ask people with a family history of illness to undergo tests to see if they carry the responsible gene.

Such a move would revolutionise life insurance rating, but would also have major implications for both medical and travel insurance.

The ABI said it would abide by any decisions of the government's Genetics and Insurance Committee, which is looking at the reliability of tests for insurance. The committee is expected to issue a report in September.

Meanwhile, the ABI will stick to its own code of practice on the issue: "We don't ask people to take tests, but if they do, they should tell us," an ABI spokesman said.

The committee is expected to put seven single-gene tests to the Government for approval.

The spokesman said concerns remain about the effects on an individual of discovering he or she had the gene for a particular disease.