Insurers may soon use therapeutic robots to collect data on people 24 hours a day, according to CommInsure EM Insurance Risk Research Aamer Fattah.
“A teddy bear robot is used in hospitals to overcome anxiety in children,” he told the Financial Services Council conference on the Gold Coast last week. “Robots are being used in Europe with the elderly because they help supplement the work of carers.”
Mr Fattah says research shows people living alone suffer the limitations of ageing more quickly than others, but therapeutic robots could counter this.
“The use of apps are limited, but a robot will have that added interest from the person they are with. You could have the robot interacting with the person and delivering data throughout the day on them.”
Mr Fattah says robots could deliver much more data on people to insurers.
“Currently we have to use assumptions on people when underwriting, but with the richness of data we can understand more about people. We will have more evidence-based data.”
He says more data will be analysed in real time as more devices are connected to the internet.
It is estimated 34.8 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2018, rising to 50.1 billion by 2020.
“People will buy devices that can monitor their life for a few-hundred dollars,” Mr Fattah said. “Data can be collected on how many steps people have taken, walked or their temperature.
“This is just the beginning – imagine what data you will be able to access in the next decade.”
AIA Australia Chief Underwriter Andrew McPherson says despite the amount of data obtained by robotic devices, underwriting will still require the human touch.
“I don’t think you can spot fraud using telemetry. Insurers cannot use information in isolation, so they need to look at their data sets and we still need a strong sense of judgement to make the final decision.
“I don’t think data will replace the current underwriting strategies, but it will complement it.”
Mr McPherson says life insurers must be careful how they use data.
“We will need to ask if we should use some data for underwriting. Do we want employers to keep a watch on the emotions of their employees and pass that data to their insurer?
“A dark side of insurance is the anti-selection process. We now understand the risks, so is there danger of who gets insurance?”
Mr McPherson says this is why humans are required in the final decision-making process.