Selfies Set to Revolutionize Life Insurance Underwriting?

Many of us find looking at other people’s selfies to be annoying. One survey found that a whopping 82 percent of participants would rather see other types of photos, instead of selfies, on social media.

But there is one group of people that not only want to look at your selfies, it believes these self-generated pictures can predict longevity.

Lapetus Solutions Inc., a science and technology company based in North Carolina, has developed a life insurance product called “Chronos.” This product would enable prospective life insurance customers to upload a selfie to their insurer and then answer a few health questions. Chronos’ facial analytics technology would scan hundreds of points on the face and can then allegedly draw conclusions regarding body mass index, potential diseases, smoking habits and ultimately, life expectancy.

Karl Ricanek Jr., co-founder and chief data scientist at Lapetus, told the Associated Press that several life insurance companies are testing Lapetus technology (but he would not disclose the names of companies testing its product.) Lapetus claims Chronos would enable a customer to buy life insurance online in as little as 10 minutes without taking a life insurance medical exam.

Buttressing Lapetus’ claim of making headway in the insurance industry is the fact that the company was selected for Plug and Play Tech Center’s 2017 Insurtech Innovation Platform, a program to connect and promote innovative insurtech that is anchored by major insurance groups, including Munich Re, USAA, Aon, Swiss Re, Travelers and Farmers.

Will Chronos Work?

It must be noted that these are still early days for Chronos. Lapetus will need to prove to a conservative industry that it consistently produces accurate results and then obtain regulatory approval on a state-by-state basis. Also, Chronos is apparently somewhat impeded by plastic surgery.

Regardless of Chronos’ ultimate success or failure, it is a dramatic attempt to automate underwriting for life insurers. Today’s life customers are tired of waiting weeks for their life policy to be approved. They expect the process of buying life insurance to be like shopping on Amazon, or any of the many other online services to which they have become accustomed. At the same time, a carrier must balance properly assessing the risk.

Also, because the life underwriting process is lengthy and often includes a medical exam, an attending physician’s statement and several interactions with the customer over a period of weeks, it can be pricey for insurers. Ways to streamline this process are welcome.

Privacy concerns are always on the minds of life insurers and regulators, but research has generally shown that prospective customers, particularly Millennials, are willing to trade away a bit of their privacy in return for tangible benefits, such as significantly expedited service.

Today’s Trends

Insurers are seeking full digital suites that will enable them to shorten the underwriting process, produce actionable insights from their data and provide a unique customer experience.

Chronos will provide large amounts of data that must be rapidly processed to be effective. An effective and integrated advanced analytics/business intelligence (BI) solution for life insurers will be key to take advantage of Chronos.

Having your social media timeline flooded with selfies depicting your friends’ “perfect lives” will always be a little annoying, but some good may come from selfies. This new technology could eventually make life easier for life insurers and their customers…

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Erica Moe

Erica Moe is the head of Sapiens' North American Life Insurance practice. She possesses expertise in business and technology-enabled transformations, mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing, software implementations, business architecture and end-to-end operations for the financial services industry (life insurance, P&C, group benefits and banking).

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