How Your Selfie Could Affect Your Life Insurance

By James Tobin, CFP®

Critical Takeaways

  • While the technology is intriguing, implementation is in the future
  • Privacy issues will be thorny
  • Carriers will be motivated by cost savings

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Jim Tobin, CFP®

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Could you really take a photo of yourself with your smart phone camera and use it as a life insurance application? 

Not yet. But, maybe soon.

According to published news reports there are several major life insurers who are testing the idea.

How Would A Selfie For Life Insurance Work?

The science behind the idea is that facial recognition software will be able to determine specific medical traits.

Smoke cigarettes, have diabetes or cardiovascular trouble? Lapetus Solutions thinks the story can be told in a photo image. 

Lapetus, a Wilmington, North Carolina technology  business, is testing this technology with  unnamed carriers. 

The process would entail using the image to validate information provided on the life insurance application in lieu of an exam.

What Would The Benefit Be To Consumers?

Speed and convenience would be the major benefits to both consumers and insurers.

Additionally, carriers would love to jettison the costs affiliated with medical exams.

The exam can be an anxiety provoking experience for applicants who are not comfortable with blood & urine tests or are simply very busy.

The exam process can be lengthy, making fully underwritten life insurance applications take 30-60 days to be placed.

The exam is also a  cost center to carriers who, in turn, recoup the expense in the pricing of policies.

Potential Issues

The first hurdle will be efficacy. That is, does it work? 

After all, carriers are in business to make money and they use medical exams to inform the risk they are insuring.

It is for this reason that they generally charge significantly more for so called 'no exam" policies.

Because answering the question "does it work" demands actuarial results, it is hard to believe any widespread  implementation of a photo based system is near.

If it is shown to be effective in assessing risks, the next hurdle will revolve around consumer acceptance.

For instance if an applicant gets  declined or given a substandard rating based on a picture, will they accept the offer?

And will the information gleaned from the image be reported to the Medical Information Bureau?


While technology is capable of unimaginable breakthroughs, the fact remains that client based businesses have a human element that will not be ignored. 

These are thorny issues that will be playing out for a long time to come. 

If you have any questions about life insurance we'd love to hear them. You can call or drop an email.

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