Could you really take a photo of yourself with your smart phone camera and use it as a life insurance application?
Not yet. But, maybe soon.
According to published news reports there are several major life insurers who are testing the idea.
The science behind the idea is that facial recognition software will be able to determine specific medical traits.
Lapetus, a Wilmington, North Carolina technology business, is testing this technology with unnamed carriers.
The process would entail using the image to validate information provided on the life insurance application in lieu of an exam.
Speed and convenience would be the major benefits to both consumers and insurers.
Additionally, carriers would love to jettison the costs affiliated with medical exams.
The exam can be an anxiety provoking experience for applicants who are not comfortable with blood & urine tests or are simply very busy.
The exam process can be lengthy, making fully underwritten life insurance applications take 30-60 days to be placed.
The exam is also a cost center to carriers who, in turn, recoup the expense in the pricing of policies.
The first hurdle will be efficacy. That is, does it work?
After all, carriers are in business to make money and they use medical exams to inform the risk they are insuring.
It is for this reason that they generally charge significantly more for so called 'no exam" policies.
Because answering the question "does it work" demands actuarial results, it is hard to believe any wide spread implementation of a photo based system is near.
If it is shown to be effective in assessing risks, the next hurdle will revolve around consumer acceptance.
And will the information gleaned from the image be reported to the Medical Information Bureau?
While technology is capable of unimaginable breakthroughs, the fact remains that client based businesses have a human element that will not be ignored.
These are thorny issues that will be playing out for a long time to come.
If you have any questions about life insurance we'd love to hear them. You can call or drop an email.
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Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook. Over the past 10 years, Jim has used his CFP-financial planning designation to help individuals with their life insurance needs. In addition to working with life insurance clients, Jim teaches ESL classes in his spare time. He resides with his beautiful wife Nicole and the 3 cats that rule their lives..
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