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Life insurance industry using AI and social media to rate customer risk

The New Yorker: “Recent news that life insurers are now subject to a mild setback in the process for determining premiums might have been cheering if it didn’t come with a revelation that the actuaries of the world might be studying your Instagram feed. Last month, in a circular letter, the New York State Department of Financial Services, a major regulator, allowed that life-insurance companies can, in principle, use information gleaned from customers’ social-media posts and other “lifestyle indicators” when setting premiums. The catch—that the use of this information has to meet non-discrimination standards—brought, in theory, a cold wind of accountability. In practice, though, it simply served to highlight one more horrifying thing that we didn’t know was going on. As the Wall Street Journal explained it, in a report by Leslie Scism, insurers have already begun using algorithms to comb through “nontraditional” information sources to evaluate customers’ risk, so most of us would be prudent to flaunt our virtues online. “Post photos of yourself running,” the Journal advised, in a sidebar. “Riskier sports, like skydiving, could complicate the situation.”..”

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