The eyes have it. So perhaps, might the nose, ears and mouth in the future, if you watch this space. While beauty might, arguably be in the eye of the beholder, life insurance policy acceptance could well be destined to follow the same path if the latest insurance industry news is to be believed.
www.thisismoney.co.uk claim that UK life insurance providers could be about to revolutionise the way in which they conduct their business, at least from the outset. And while first appearances are known to be deceptive in some situations, insurers aren’t necessarily in agreeance with this general synopsis.
Apparently some insurance companies are all-set to spearhead a new mean-testing scenario based almost entirely in a virtual context, whereby they invite would-be life insurance plan policyholders to send them ‘selfies’ so they can scrutinise a photo of their face to initially ascertain the underlying state of their current health.
According to reports many of the country’s leading insurance providers are considering the merits of the bespoke computer programs which have the in-built capability to analyse an image of someone’s face and determine whether they’re a smoker or not, as well as working out if they’ve been ill or susceptible to having their life expectancy compromised. That is of course unless the sender has applied a creative filter to their photo, which could easily put a spanner in the works.
Facial analytics – despite sounding very sci-fi – is a rapidly expanding field of expertise, with America being at the forefront of its technological advances. To the casual observer it’s based on the fundamental, yet admittedly contentious, belief that the quicker someone ages in a physical and superficial sense, then the more it will be mirrored by a shorter life expectancy. Yet not everyone shares the understanding, and critics argue that customer privacy could potentially be compromised, effectively bringing the risk of some people being uninsurable in the long term. Indeed, the Founder of campaigning organisation, Consumer Action Group, Mark Gander sees the whole concept as somewhat disturbing. “I think this is very creepy. There doesn’t seem to be much in it for the customer, and it leaves them at risk of things becoming far more difficult and expensive,” said Gander, adding; “It essentially seems to be insurance companies saying we will only cover you if we know you will never claim.”
Life Insurance Face Off Could Become Science Fact, As Selfies Could Prove Invaluable Tool for Predicting Policyholder’s Underlying Health Issues and Potential Life Expectancy
As it stands, life insurance proposers are asked about their health status as part of their policy requirements, yet their responses are not always checked against medical records, which allows for discrepancies. Under the protocol of this new photo-fit system those looking to arrange a life plan would need to first post a photo of themselves to fulfil the insurance provider’s qualifying criteria prior to being accepted.
This is then systematically compared with the health status they had disclosed to root out any pressing concerns. Smokers for example would, essentially, be identifiable courtesy of the presence of small creases around the lips, while disguised drug use would be exposed if hollow cheeks were prevalent on the mug shot. Excessive alcohol consumption would be graphically flagged up by the onset of a bulbous nose.
Likewise, if a would-be insured party’s face was characterised by a plethora of crow’s feet, wrinkles or eye shadows if they were aged in their 20s, then this would set off alarm bells, with the programme indicating that the individual is adjudged to be aging quicker than commonly accepted.
Thus this admission would suggest that they posed a greater insurance risk, and could potentially die at an earlier age, which would have life insurance policy implications from the get-go, including paying heftier premiums to counter possible heightened claim likelihood.
Chronos – the science company behind this insurance-impinging tech – says; “This is a revolution in technology. The face gives you clues into potential risks. When they’re added together with other data, they can become a very powerful tool for insurers.”
However the Association of British Insurers isn’t singing off the same hymn sheet just yet when a spokesperson added; “While interesting, it’s unlikely the technology would give insurers better information about a person’s medical history to accurately measure their risk. The industry currently uses refined pricing and underwriting processes that are well established and reliable.”