Insurers can now predict life expectancy through a selfie

Facial analytics technology is latest development in drive for faster underwriting

Insurers can now predict life expectancy through a selfie

It is an ongoing challenge for life insurers to reduce the underwriting process for consumers. Providers want to be able to deliver a policy decision in minutes rather than days or weeks, but technology is now offering the tools to do just that.

US firm Lapetus Solutions and its Chronos platform is one such example. Named after the Greek god of time, Chronos allows insurers to render decisions on coverage using a selfie of the applicant. Facial analytics technology examines a person’s face and can instantly provide the individual’s gender, age and BMI rating.

This information is useful for insurers in determining risk, and with a few further questions, life expectancy can be determined.

Janet Anderson, chief marketing officer, Lapetus Solutions, explains how the system works.

“Imagine an advisor speaking with one of their clients and wanting to see if they fall into a classification qualification for an insurance product,” she says. “They can simply upload a selfie, get some immediate feedback, and have a better indication of what path their client needs to go down – whether they need to do full underwriting or if they qualify for some other benefit level.”

An important question in any life insurance application concerns smoking. Lapetus has therefore developed software to detect if a person smokes or not, which is then reflected in their premium.

“From a selfie we are able to detect if there are signs of smoking,” she says. “Smoking literally leaves a footprint on your face; it reduces the oxygen in several parts of your face. Using our algorithms, we can detect marionette lines around the mouth, or lines under the eyes.”

Lapetus Solutions is made up of leading scientists in the fields of biodemography, facial analytics, health, aging and data science. Those experts use artificial intelligence to predict life events in real time, including mortality, morbidity and healthy lifespan. All this information is extremely useful for life insurers, but Anderson believes these programs will extend far beyond that space.

“Within the insurance sector, we are starting with the life insurance companies, and moving more into the health side,” she says. “We are also building out our tools for retirement planning. Imagine if an advisor is with a customer and they upload a selfie. We can age-progress that selfie, which has a big influence on someone’s saving habits.” 

She adds: “We are continuing to do specific data collection initiatives where we have one-on-one consumer interviews. We ask a few health questions and then take a variety of still photos, video and audio. From that we will build some algorithms and that will help with disease detection, and that’s where we see a huge impact – on the health insurance side as well as the medical and pharmaceutical industries.”


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