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This article was published on May 5, 2017

Selfies could one day determine life insurance eligibility

Selfies could one day determine life insurance eligibility
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Insurers currently pull motor vehicle records, prescription drug histories, and reports from insurance databases to help determine what constitutes acceptable risk when writing a policy. In the future, they could do away with all of this, or supplement it, with a selfie.

Karl Ricanek Jr., co-founder and chief data scientist at Lapetus Solutions Inc., is looking for partners in the insurance industry to test a product, Chronos, that would allow customers to buy life insurance online in as little as 10 minutes — and without a medical exam.

“Your face is something you wear all your life, and it tells a very unique story about you,” Ricanek told USA Today.

Chronos uses hundreds of data points on your face to analyze wrinkles, contours, and dark spots. It’s also attempting to extract information like body mass index, and physiological age (how old you look) to determine whether you’re aging faster or slower than your biological age. Insurance companies rely on these life expectancy estimates to make policy approval and pricing decisions.

Several companies are testing Lapetus’ solution, although Ricanek declined to reveal which ones. The solution still faces significant roadblocks. First, Ricanek has to find an insurer willing to use it outside of a testing environment. Then, it’d have to gain regulatory approval. Plus, it’s able to detect makeup obscuring these facial data points, but not plastic surgery.

According to 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.”