….but first lemme take a selfie

….but first lemme take a selfie

Would you ever consider sending a “selfie” to your life insurance company?

Insurers across Britain are rushing to purchase computer programs that can analyze a photograph to determine if that person is a smoker, ill or has been ill, or is likely to have a shorter than normal life expectancy.

Facial analytics is a growing scientific field which is picking up steam in the UK and USA. It’s reasonable then to assume it’s only a matter of time until it comes to Canada.  It’s based on the theory that the faster someone ages physically, the shorter their expected lifespan will be.

Usually when someone buys life insurance, they are asked about their health. In some cases the insurer may not check if the answers given are true.  In other cases they may ask for permission to check medical records or run a blood test.

In the future when you buy coverage you may be asked to submit a “selfie” using the insurance company’s application on a smartphone before being accepted for coverage. The insurer’s software would then analyze the photo to determine if the customers face matches the declared level of health.  For example. A smoker may have small creases around the lips, hollow cheeks could indicate hidden drug use, and a bulbous nose may be a sign of heavy drinking.

The system could then also be used to catch people who pick up bad habits later in life by comparing photos taken several years apart and analyzing the changes.

Part of the science behind this is based on a Danish study of twins. The study was conducted using 1,826 twins in Denmark aged 70 or older.  Independent assessors were asked to estimate the age of the subjects by looking at photos of their faces in 2001, then seeing which of the twins had died by the time a follow up was done in 2008.  The study found that if one of the twins had died it was more likely to be the one that looked older.

So back to the original question, would you consider sending a “selfie” to your life insurer if you thought it would result in reduced premiums?   What about if they asked you for your Fitbit data?