In insurance Big Data could lower rates for optimistic tweeters

Sun Oct 23, 2016 4:17am EDT
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By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) - When people take to Twitter to comment on the great evening they enjoyed with good food and wonderful friends, reducing their monthly insurance bill is probably the last thing on their mind.

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 (SRENH.S: Quote) 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 personalized 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, 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 personalized deals.

"In a relatively short period of time, maybe a few years, most of the major insurers will have integrated lessons from behavioral 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."   Continued...

FILE PHOTO: People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo