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Ver­sicherun­gen stützen sich auf Risiko­min­derung. Doch es besteht die Ge­fahr, dass durch Big Data der Aus­gle­ich nicht mehr gegeben ist.

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Com­ment from the English-speak­ing world

Is it rea­son­able for life in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to de­mand that their cus­tomers try to get fit? ... John Han­cock, one of the old­est life in­sur­ance com­pa­nies in the US, an­nounced [re­cently] that it would in fu­ture only write poli­cies that of­fer re­wards for cus­tomers who use var­i­ous forms of fit­ness track­ers or join gyms. Sim­i­lar of­fers are avail­able in Bri­tain, where 1.1 mil­lion peo­ple have signed up to such schemes. ... But if the process is car­ried to ex­tremes, it could un­der­mine one of the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of any in­sur­ance mar­ket.

In­sur­ance works be­cause we are ig­no­rant of our in­di­vid­ual fates . ... [A]ny of us might turn out to be a bad risk [which] makes it sen­si­ble for ev­ery­one to in­sure against that re­mote chance. The pool­ing of in­di­vid­ual risks ... un­der­lies the whole sys­tem. But there is a sub­tle mis­match of aims be­tween in­sur­ers and their cus­tomers. The cus­tomers want to avoid the con­se­quences of mis­for­tune; the in­sur­ers want cus­tomers who avoid mis­for­tune. The two aims are rec­on­ciled be­cause both sides are op­er­at­ing be­hind a veil of ig­no­rance.

In­sur­ers have an in­ter­est in know­ing as much as pos­si­ble about their cus­tomers. Cus­tomers have an in­ter­est in in­sur­ers un­der­es­ti­mat­ing their real risk . ... Each in­di­vid­ual cus­tomer also has an in­ter­est in the in­sur­ers pric­ing all the oth­ers ac­cu­rately, with the help of as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble. And both sides will ben­e­fit if ways are found to re­duce the risk of the mis­for­tune in­sured against . ... The bal­ance be­tween knowl­edge and ig­no­rance of risk has tra­di­tion­ally been struck at the level of sta­tis­ti­cal knowl­edge about large groups . ...

But sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant groups are get­ting smaller in the age of big data. In the US, one data com­pany uses 442 non­med­i­cal at­tributes to pre­dict med­i­cal costs and so which clients are prof­itable to in­sure. In the light of the health dis­par­i­ties be­tween the rich and poor ar­eas of Bri­tain, pri­vate in­sur­ers could do the same here with no more in­for­ma­tion than a post­code. This is why the NHS has to cover ev­ery­one, if it is to work as it should. The risks must be shared be­tween healthy and un­healthy, rich and poor . ...

© Guardian News & Me­dia 2018

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