A selfie reveals more than whether it’s a good hair day. Facial lines and contours, droops and dark spots could indicate how well you’re aging, and, when paired with other data, could someday help determine whether you qualify for life insurance.
“Your face is something you wear all your life, and it tells a very unique story about you,” says Karl Ricanek Jr., co-founder and chief data scientist at Lapetus Solutions Inc. in Wilmington, N.C.
Several life insurance companies are testing Lapetus technology that uses facial analytics and other data to estimate life expectancy, he says. (Lapetus would not disclose the names of companies testing its product.) Insurers use life expectancy estimates to make policy approval and pricing decisions. Lapetus says its product, Chronos, would enable a customer to buy life insurance online in as little as 10 minutes without taking a life insurance medical exam.
Life insurers already gather other data with your permission to get insight beyond the information you supply on the application. For example, they often pull motor vehicle records, prescription drug histories and reports from an insurance industry database of certain information disclosed on past individual life and health insurance applications.
Many life insurance companies are exploring how to use additional data, statistical models, artificial intelligence and other techniques to help make quick decisions to ease the policy buying process and boost sales. Consumers don’t like the wait on the typical application process, which can take weeks and often requires a medical exam.
Time and testing will tell which new approaches prove effective, says Robert Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA, a life insurance trade group. “This one may or may not meet the vetting process to make carriers comfortable,” he says.
It’s important for the consumer to feel comfortable, too. It’s one thing to post a selfie on Instagram, another to send it to an insurer for analysis. And it’s crucial for consumers that any technology an insurer uses works. Their claims may not be fully paid if insurers make inaccurate predictions and go belly up.
IT’S WRITTEN ALL OVER YOUR FACE
If Chronos is adopted by an insurer – which would need to get regulatory approval from states to use it in the underwriting process – here’s generally how it would work.
You’d upload a selfie to the insurer online and answer health and other questions. The facial analytics technology would scan hundreds of points on your face and extract certain information, including your body mass index, physiological age (in layman’s terms, how old you look) and whether you’re aging faster or slower than your actual age.
Ricanek says the program can detect makeup, but not plastic surgery. It verifies identity by comparing the photo to the one on your driver’s license.