Data Mining Exec Pays For Burgers In Cash To Keep His Insurance Company From Knowing His Bad Diet Habits

from the privacy?-what's-that? dept

The Economist recently had an interesting article on how insurance companies are increasingly using data mining to "analyze risk." That is, they look through the data which was originally collected for the purpose of better marketing, and use it as a tool to see if you lead an unhealthy life. However, the really interesting point is highlighted by Kashmir Hill, where an exec at a datamining company admits that he's changed his habits because of this. Not his eating habits, mind you. But how he purchases food:
Insurers' interest in data mining will only grow, says Kevin Pledge, the boss of Insight Decision Solutions, an underwriting-technology consultancy based near Toronto.... Insurance firms will also analyse grocery purchases for clues about policyholders, he predicts. But that raises some sticky questions about privacy. Mr Pledge himself has begun to forgo his supermarket loyalty-card discount on junk food and pay for his burgers in cash. Promising as data mining is, much will depend on how regulators, and consumers, react.
He also notes that he's working on a system that will go through your social media profiles to see if you provide any info insurers may want to know about. This, of course, is the natural extension of our data explosion. But, in my experience, all of these companies who collect data seem to do an incredibly bad job at getting it right. And... as long as there's that "cash hole" for data, it's hard to see how accurate such information would really be.

Filed Under: data mining, health, insurance, social media


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2012 @ 7:32am

    Re: Re: That is easy

    Car insurance isn't really a problem since there is healthy competition in that industry. If one company wants to screw you over a ticket 10 years old, another would be happy to give you a lower rate to get your business.

    Health insurance is a different ball game since most people have little affordable choice beyond their employer's provided coverage. Since many companies policy don't leave room to change individuals more, the bill goes up for everyone which means that eating a hamburger could lead to you losing your job if it means a bigger bill for the employer.

    I call BS on the pregnancy deal. They may have made a good guess based on her age for some targeted ads. Best they could do potentially would be if she talked about having un protected sex on facebook and they were able to time that with her ovulation based on Kroger plus data for tampon purchases.

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