Here’s how your selfie could one day affect your life insurance

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WATCH: Technology from a North Carolina company could help life insurers decide if you qualify for life insurance – based on a selfie – Apr 21, 2017

When you think of a selfie, life insurance probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, a company in North Carolina is claiming its product can help determine if you’ll qualify for life insurance.

Lapetus Solutions Inc. in Wilmington, N.C., says its product, Chronos, can help estimate your life expectancy, which is a big factor for life insurers.

According to Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. (CLHIA), life insurance is “a way to protect your survivors and dependents against financial hardship” and “guarantees payment of the face value of the policy, upon death.”

Janet Anderson, chief marketing officer with Lapetus, told Global News Chronos helps determine someone’s life expectancy from an uploaded photo.

“[The consumer] uploads a selfie and answers a few questions and then we take that info and analyze it and are able to produce an output of a life expectancy,” said Anderson.
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“Taking a look at 350 points on the face, and thousands of regions, we assess for BMI, gender and are able to…detect if there was smoking” in a person’s history, Anderson said.

Not only can Chronos determine a person’s life expectancy, Anderson said, but their healthy life expectancy as well.

Anderson explained that a person’s healthy life expectancy can be 80, for example, but their life expectancy may be 82. That means that individual could start becoming frail at the age of 80.

Mark Coutts, financial adviser at Sunlife Financial said when a person applies for life insurance, there are factors other than what your face looks like that determines if you qualify for life insurance.

For example, Coutts told Global News that with the client’s permission, they can collect information such as if a person has had multiple speeding tickets, has lost their license in the past, which all factor into person’s lifestyle and whether they’ll be approved and for how much coverage.

Anderson also said the purpose of Chronos is to quicken the approval process for consumers.

“You can go through our platform in less than 10 minutes and during that time we can provide that info to an insurance carrier,” said Anderson.

She went on to explain that consumers have to fill upwards to 15 pages to apply for life insurance, and may have to take a medical exam, which can add to how long it takes before a person finds out if they’ve been approved.

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“They have to schedule [the appointment]…may have to provide fluids, answer some additional questions, have it validated, then give it back to the insurance company to review it.”

However, for bigger insurance policies where blood tests are needed, for example, Chronos could help with the initial application process but the consumer would still have to go out and get the additional medical evidence required for their application.

Coutts said depending on the person, how much insurance coverage they’re applying for and their medical history, their life insurance can be approved as quickly 48 hours to a few weeks.

“Consumers’ expectations continually change and insurance companies are aware of that,” said Coutts. “[The industry] is always looking for technological advances that will speed up the process … and is more cost efficient.”

With that said however, Coutts said he can see insurers using Chronos as another factor to help decide who qualifies for life insurance but can’t see it being used exclusively.

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In the end, the insurance company has the last say on whether a person gets approved.

Anderson admitted Chronos could have difficulty detecting if someone has had plastic surgery.

If there’s ever an issue with the selfie uploaded, Lapetus would let the insurer know that it spotted something “odd” leaving it up to the carrier to ask the consumer for additional information.

If carriers decide to use Chronos, they would have to get regulatory approval from the government. This happens anytime there is a change in the application process.

Anderson says there are companies that have tested their product but would not disclose who they were because of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).