The Pale Rider’s Fitbit

People applying for income protection or life insurance usually answer a short series of questions that provide a basic medical history. Questions usually seek information about smoking status, alcohol consumption and frequency of exercise. Insurance premiums increase depending upon the risk factors that are calculated based upon actuarial tables.

If you are a healthy 50-year-old man you have a 16% chance of developing type-2 diabetes in the next 20 years. If you are obese & smoke this figure rises to 23%.

Modelling suggests that “healthy” diabetics between the ages of 50-70 years would expect to live about six years less than non-diabetics. Obese smoking diabetics are expected to live ten years less than non-diabetics.

In many cases the information provided is fairly general in nature and lacks the depth of a full medical history. With the advent of wearable technology insurance companies have the ability to access a greater variety of information to assist in the pricing of insurance cover, by more effectively calculating liabilities and accurately managing risk.

Apps are available that take into account blood pressure, sleep patterns, number of steps walked, as well as age, gender and height to calculate a countdown clock, showing the number of years, months and days they have left to live. The countdown clock is supposed to “motivate yourself to be healthier.”Whilst technology that adopts predictive analysis to anticipate the effect of pre-existing conditions on an individual to calculate mortality patterns is currently available.

This technology allows insurers  to incorporate the impact of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory, digestive/renal and neurological disorders into their existing tables in order to calculate average life expectancy.

The more accurately insurers can predict when you are likely to die enables them to compensate for potential risk. In layman’s terms insurance companies can increase premiums or not insure people who pose a greater risk whilst continuing to insure those with lower risks of disease and death.

Without being too morbid the chances that you will die are 100%. The unknown quality is the time that you are going to die. In September 2015, a supercomputer installed at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center claimed to predict the likelihood of a patient’s death with more than 96% accuracy.

In The Seventh Seal a Knight returning from the crusades plays chess with Death, the Knight creates a distraction by knocking the pieces from the board allowing a family to slip away, Death states:

“Nothing escapes me. No one escapes me.”

Death places the pieces back on the board; wins the game on the next move announcing:

“When next we meet, the hour will strike for you and your friends”

In making plans for your future you should have contingencies in place for illness and death so that your loved ones have less things to worry about during these difficult times. Life & Income protection insurance, an Advance Care Directive, Power of Attorney, and a Will helps you plan for you and your family’s future. Once you have them in place revisit them regularly to ensure they reflect your wishes. Most importantly take the time to discuss your plans with your loved ones.

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