Premium Based on ‘Like, Share and Post’: Use of Social Media Data in Life Insurance and Proxy Discrimination

Paper by Salome Chapeyama Mdala: “Social media has become a massive resource of data such that data analytics firms can use social media platforms alone to extract valuable data for insurers. For example, Verisk Analytics and its subsidiary Insurance Services Offices (ISO), have long offered actuarial services to insurers and now offer social media analytics as part of their services. According to one of Verisk’s actuaries Jim Weiss, “insurers might want to consider how they can use data from social media to tailor offerings to prospective policyholders’ ‘likes’ and preferences.” Social media is a useful database for life insurers because the business of insurance is focused on classifying risks and tailoring premiums to suit the predicted risk. Social Media provides easily accessible data which may be beneficial for the insurance company in underwriting risks. For instance, life insurers can categorise individuals’ risks based on their diet, exercise routine, adventures, hobbies and so forth. Consumers do not have to go through an inconvenient question-and-answer session with their insurers because knowledge about them is readily accessible. However, the risk of unfair discrimination is a significant disadvantage of using social media data for underwriting purposes. Regulatory bodies are starting to provide guidelines about how insurers can use data mining to underwrite policies. The discussion is divided in three parts: the use of social media data in underwriting, proxy discrimination in life insurance and guiding principles in the use of external data sources in underwriting…(More)”