But such tweets could help insurers to price premiums for individuals, with research suggesting a direct link between positive posts and a reduced risk of heart disease.
This could lead to future insurance cover based on “sentiment analysis,” in which Big Data and artificial intelligence make predictive models ever more accurate.
Swiss Re says technological advances will cut the price of insurance protection and help individuals and firms make better decisions through programs that offer advice and incentivise improvements in areas such as health and driving.
However, detractors fret that such developments could erode customers’ privacy or lead to increasingly personalised pricing, undermining the basic principle of insurance sharing risk.
Social media monitoring is one of several advances insurers are examining to improve the pricing of policies.
As part of its data push, Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest reinsurer, has invested in digi.me, a startup aiming to let consumers store personal data culled across various social media channels and beyond and to exchange their data with businesses for personalised deals.
“In a relatively short period of time, maybe a few years, most of the major insurers will have integrated lessons from behavioural research,” Swiss Re’s head of digital analytics catalysts, Daniel Ryan, told Reuters. “Undoubtedly, it will lead to a different interaction between insurer and policyholders.”
By highlighting “safe behaviours”, insurers believe they can reduce claims by helping clients to lead healthier, safer lives.
Programs such as Discovery’s Vitality and Allstate’s Drivewise are already putting these policies into practice.
The Vitality health and life insurance program assesses a customer’s overall health based on factors from age and blood pressure to diet, exercise and self-assessed happiness levels. It then establishes a personalised health improvement plan, tracking users’ progress via purchases and wearable devices.
Customers gain rewards for making healthier choices, from premium reductions to cash back on health food and discounts on travel bookings.
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Insurers like Allstate and Britain’s Drive Like a Girl offer discounts to motorists who exhibit safe driving behaviour after installing a ‘telematics’ tracking device—which collects data on speed, abruptness of braking and time and frequency of use—in their cars.
“The focus of Drivewise is to give you feedback that can only help your driving and your rates,” Allstate says of the programme. Rates will never be raised—only reduced or maintained—based on the data, the U.S. insurer says.
But big data and artificial intelligence do not simply serve to identify ‘best users’.