Insurers have promised that genetic tests done for research purposes will not be used to set premiums, to try to calm fears that people may be put off participating in research projects.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) reaffirmed that insurers were only interested in genetic test results that had been communicated to the individual as part of a clinical diagnostic process.

It said it hoped the statement would reassure people who had been asked to take part in genetic research.

The clarification of the ABI's position came at the request of the UK Forum for Genetics and Insurance, which facilitates discussion between the insurance and genetics industries and the public.

The British Society for Human Genetics, which represents the clinicians, scientists and counsellors who test and treat families with genetic conditions, welcomed the institute's move.

“This removes one source of anxiety for people asked to take part in genetic research, and should help avoid the risk that research will be hampered because of people's worries about insurance,” the society said.