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Online Behavior Could Influence Insurance Rates

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the brain-tumor-insurance-not-offered-to-youtube-commenters dept.

Privacy 141

storagedude writes "There seems to be no end to the ways your personal data and online behavior can be used against you. According to the Wall Street Journal, insurance companies are considering using online behavioral and social networking data to try to weed out insurance risks. What you read, what you buy, how much TV you watch, your credit, your fan pages... it could all be used to predict your longevity and insurance risk. The practice, which appears to be in the early stages, could raise concerns with the FTC and insurance regulators, but insurance and data mining companies say they just plan to use it to speed up the applications of people who appear to be good risks; others would have to go through more rigorous traditional screening."

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And the first ones to be denied insurance..... (1)

scosco62 (864264) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316548)

who posts to this thread...

Re:And the first ones to be denied insurance..... (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316838)

No, probably people who use search engines to look up medical conditions. It'll be the new "pre-existing condition" metric. Doctor's records are so passe.

the new health care bill bans pre-existing conditi (3, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317042)

the new health care bill bans pre-existing conditions and makes it so you can't be turned down and any ways how do they even known they have the right name if they just use Google?

Re:the new health care bill bans pre-existing cond (2, Interesting)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317406)

They have an increased risk that you might potentially be a person who has, or has family who have, a given condition. Therefore you should pay more for insurance, because you (or someone who could be mistaken for you) presented some interest in Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography, for example.

Re:the new health care bill bans pre-existing cond (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317570)

Right, they can't turn you down, but what's stopping them from setting the rate at a ludicrous amount because they noticed you just searched Bing for diabetes?

"You can't be turned down" is irrelevant because they can charge you whatever they want.

Re:the new health care bill bans pre-existing cond (4, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318592)

"You can't be turned down" is irrelevant because they can charge you whatever they want.
And even better, you can't turn them down, because under Obamacare, you have to have insurance even if they set the premium so high that you can't afford it. This will be the best thing to happen to the insurance companies since, well, everything else that has happened to the insurance companies. Thank you Obama, for bailing out the already rich insurance companies.

Re:And the first ones to be denied insurance..... (1)

storagedude (1517243) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317134)

If they use search history, hypochondriacs and people with OCD are hosed.

Re:And the first ones to be denied insurance..... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318342)

Not to mention people like me who waste time browsing wikipedia. I've already browsed through all the world's most horrific diseases...

Has America died? (2, Insightful)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317928)

Are you claiming that Google is selling browser history data to the health care industry?

How much is being paid?

Exactly who is buying.

I suspect that this is not the case since this would fundamentally destroy their business and they are or at least should be sensible enough to recognize this.

Rather, I suspect, but can not as yet prove, that it is the health care industry mining data from social networking sites and on-line marketers that are the primary culprits in this. Exactly, how much is being paid to and by who needs to be the subject of a much wider debate. Otherwise, the entire concept of American democracy is dead.

Re:Has America died? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318202)

All the insurance companies have to do is pay for ads to be displayed for target conditions. If searches for "diabetes" show ads that people click, then the insurance companies have IP addresses. If the users don't click, the insurance companies still have a number totaling how many times their ad was displayed, and in what general populations.

Insurance companies spying on people, old news (4, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318116)

Health insurance companies often send private investigators after people who they think might be feigning injury. I've heard of this happening about a decade ago.

Car insurance companies send lookouts to street racer hangouts and sometimes even 100% legal track meets to look for customers to cut off (almost all insurance contracts say that participating in a timed run or contest of speed is not covered. It's standard procedure for us low-budget racers to get a barebones insurance package for our streetable track rats and just not tell the insurance companies shit...we fix our own vehicles of course and pay for separate event insurance, so the insurance company basically gets free money for giving us a piece of paper we need in case we get pulled over, but they aren't happy with this for some reason.)

This isn't even the first instance of insurance company spying ON THE INTERNET - a couple of years ago there was a story of a depressed woman cut off from her health care insurance because she posted a happy status update and a pic of her smiling to her Facebook page.

Of course (4, Insightful)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316562)

And TSA x-rays are just to reduce the number of people who have to be submitted to TSA groping.

No. (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318198)

Its really the result of two fundamental trends:

1) The War in Afghanistan and against "terror" is being lost and there really are more "imminent threats" out there. Al Qieda is now publishing a magazine that attempts to target third parties to join in on ways to destroy our economy. One article instructs folks how to make bobby trapped parcels and suicide bombs for travelers.

2) For those corporations and their owners who make huge money off security, defense contracting, militarism, and the overall trappings of a police state, the highly visible and intrusive procedures are designed to instill a sense of fear and submission by the public to the concept of more and more need for these services. Soon TSA will be privatized, republicans are already pushing for this, and there will be two lines at airports, bus and train stations, the sign on the one leading to the x-ray scanners will read "cancer", the other leading to the pat-down room will say "humiliation". Of course, the top 1% and politicians will not be inconvenienced as they get pre-cleared to walk around both.

The only way to stop this, and perhaps the war as well, is for the public to demand legislation that requires that ALL federal employees, specifically including senators, representatives, and senior executive branch staff be required to go through the same lines and be videoed in a highly public way to demonstrate that they too are getting the same treatment. Likewise, no private airplane, carrying lobbyists, CEO, etc. can leave the runway until ALL passengers have likewise gone through the lines and have their pictures taken in the process to prove it.

Already happens (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34316590)

Some members of an auto-cross club posted pictures of a recent event on a forum and got their insurance cancelled.

Re:Already happens (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317048)

Damn, I was going to post speculation to this effect, and the industry beat me to it in the meat world. Sometimes even the most confirmed cynics can't keep up . . .

Sure wish I didn't join the (4, Funny)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316592)

I've got an STD facebook group.

Re:Sure wish I didn't join the (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316786)

You may laugh, but I remember driving into Dallas a decade ago and seeing a billboard for an I-have-herpes dating service. That would be a really... interesting client list.

Re:Sure wish I didn't join the (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317300)

You may laugh, but I remember driving into Dallas a decade ago and seeing a billboard for an I-have-herpes dating service. That would be a really... interesting client list.

Something like between 1 in 5 to 1 in 8 adults have genital herpes. So it is likely that someone you know has it. Although there are also stats that say only 1 in 5 who have it actually know they have it as it is hard to correctly diagnose.

I'm posting anon (let me just check that again!) because I do have HSVII and belonging to a social group where everyone has the same socially (yet in our opinion unfairly) stigmatized disease is a emotional relief.

Re:Sure wish I didn't join the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317380)

Replying to my own post. I forgot that about 10 years ago I was filling out paper work for a work based health insurance policy and I answered that I had had an STD check up - Not that I had had an STD. This was a red flag to the insurers who wanted to know why. My stance was that in this day and age, not getting an STD checkup when you are sexually active is irresponsible. Especially when recommended practice for a new monogamous sexual partner is to use condoms for at least 3 months, have an STD check up and then go condom free. But it was still embarrassing to have to explain all of this to an insurer. (and this was before my HSV II days)

Re:Sure wish I didn't join the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34318654)

And if you don't know anybody who has it, YOU'RE probably the one who has it!

Habitual slashdot use bodes well. (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316616)

Habitual slashdot use bodes well for your insurance rate. Mom's basement is pretty safe and the chances of catching an STD are as limited by the low probability of meeting a female in real life.

Re:Habitual slashdot use bodes well. (3, Insightful)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316700)

It's a good job that the sedentary lifestyle correlating with prolonged computer usage isn't a major risk factor in heart disease then

(Yeah I know, facts = karma hell)

Re:Habitual slashdot use bodes well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34316848)

If they figure out just how much I've posted on usenet, slashdot and dozens of other forums over the years, they'll correctly identify me as an RSI hazard.

I'd better subscribe to some healthy outdoors activity forums. Nothing extreme, of course.

Re:Habitual slashdot use bodes well. (3, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316958)

And single computer geeks need life insurance, for why? Exactly whom would it meant to support, unless of course there is a provable reincarnation option.

Re:Habitual slashdot use bodes well. (1)

puto (533470) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317686)

Actually you are correct. For true life insurance(say 100k USD+, but generally 250k is the bar) you have to prove that there is an insurable interest. Kids, wife, someone who is going to miss that income. Someone that depends on you. And it is based on income being currently earned. Disability income does not count.

Re:Habitual slashdot use bodes well. (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317504)

So, slashdotter <40 == good risk
Slashdotter >40 == bad risk

Re:Habitual slashdot use bodes well. (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317512)

In all seriousness, though. I could imagine that time spent online would be an invaluable metric for health insurance providers.

Re:Habitual slashdot use bodes well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34316706)

Yeah but the risk of mental disorders is much higher. Poor eating habits are probably a higher possibility as well.

Re:Habitual slashdot use bodes well. (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318608)

Here's a little something while we're on the subject of Mom's basement. Women live longer than men. While studying why that is, scientists have learned that there is a way to bring men's longevity up to women's:


Predicting the future... (5, Interesting)

Manip (656104) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316644)

Here is what will happen:
1) People will "game" the system to get cheaper quotes (e.g. fake browser history, fake cookies, etc).
2) Some insurance company which doesn't really understand technology will either sue a client, or try and withhold a payout
3) A 70 year old judge will agree that fake browser history (or "privacy" as I like to call it) is fraud
4) A law will be passed making it illegal to tamper with or destroy your browsing history, or to attempt to avoid tracking while online

Re:Predicting the future... (2)

scosco62 (864264) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316676)

5) Some idiotic politician will make this a platform; while making no real binding committment to deal with it 6) The insurance company will continue post positive growth, based on profiling And so the wheel turns......

Re:Predicting the future... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34316732)

6) ???

Re:Predicting the future... (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316808)

Where's the "+1 scary in that it could be true" rating? And I don't just mean "insightful" ;)

Re:Predicting the future... (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316832)

I can also see an alternative #3: Attempting to remove browser history or identifying cookies is considered bypassing DRM under DMCA/ACTA/whatever future laws get made.

What I'd like to see is research on pseudo-anonymity. The ability to have an identity remain anonymous, but people are able to correlate posts/ideas. This way, someone anonymous ID (like the person posting under the nym Black Unicorn back in the Cypherpunk days) can start to have a reputation and some way of knowing posts were his/hers, but without the ability to tie it to a real person. A real person can have multiple of these nyms and change at will.

True anonymity is a good thing, but having a method of being able to have some sort of identity that isn't tied to the person would be nice too.

Re:Predicting the future... (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317814)

We already have that. It's called Pen-Name/Psuedonym and is how I exist online. Yes you can google search on my handle and find lots of what I've posted as Fast Turtle but you wont confuse that with my other psuedonyms because I have never linked them.

Re:Predicting the future... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317202)

Okay, that just made me sick to my stomach a little. Not because it's absurd or unreasonable, but because it seems incredibly likely to be the truth.

Still, how long before HIPPA is repealed? It's a bullshit law anyway and does nothing to stop the information sharing that is going on.

Re:Predicting the future... (1)

puto (533470) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317708)

There is no insurance company that does not understand technology.

Possible, but unlikely (1)

rs1n (1867908) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317992)

While this is one possible outcome, I highly doubt it will ever happen as you describe it. Your typical computer user is not even going to be aware of how companies mine data on them, let alone be able to "game" the system through fake histories and cookies. Sure, they might be aware that "companies" are collecting personal information about them -- but only in the general sense. The only real safe way to prevent this is to keep internet usage to a minimum -- which will never happen. The only way your scenario will even be partially realized is when a company makes that process of faking histories and cookies as easy as installing a plugin. And then it will be said company that might have to face any related circumvention laws.

I watch TV or Internet all day. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316690)

That should make me one of the safest customers.
They certainly don't need to worry about me wrecking since I'm not driving, or chopping my finger off with a saw since I'm not working. I just sit and avoid risk.

It smells in here. (5, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316720)

Deloitte and the life insurers stress the databases wouldn't be used to make final decisions about applicants.


She also says that, while Acxiom does store personally identifiable information, it doesn't store or merge anonymous online-tracking data, such as Web-browsing records.


Units of News Corp., including The Wall Street Journal, supply information to marketing-database firms and buy information from them. "We have strict precautions around confidentiality," a spokeswoman said.


The insurer says pilot projects with marketing data are continuing in its effort to improve clients' buying experience.


All these quotes were made by PR and corporate stooges. Does anyone honestly think they would tell the real story?

Re:It smells in here. (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317128)

I used to work for Acxiom a long time back....and it was scary THEN what information they have on people. Back then, we were looking to expand into Europe, etc for information gathering.

They did all kinds of neat things....you fill out a change of address for the post office? Yep, they buy and use those to clean their databases on you. Many states sold and still sell drivers license info, they use that. Do you ever fill out warranty cards for products you buy? Fill in the surveys anywhere? Yep, they know who you are. They can pull up pretty accurate info for likely 95% or so of the people in the US, who knows about foreign countries by now. They can tell how much you make, if you wear glasses.....any number of personal or financial traits you might have.

They are VERY good at it. Heck, after 9/11...the Feds used Acxiom to start data mining for terrorists.

I know they have info on me, but I try not to make it easy. At the one grocery store I shop at that still uses customer cards...I am registered at a 98 yr old hispanic lady named Goldenberg...and a native of Sweden. I just make sure and only pay cash at that store. I fill out every possible survey and form out incorrectly trying to skew their data profile on me. Post Katrina, as I moved around...they lost me for a bit. But I think they have me decently again, due to magazine publications I like to read.

Oh well...hard to stay invisible these days...but you don't have to try to actively try to help them. That facebook thing looks like it could be fun, but man, I just cannot bear to let even more info out about me voluntarily.

Re:It smells in here. (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317284)

That's very interesting.

Well. Perhaps the next Timothy McVeigh will set his sites on Acxiom instead of the government and attack the problem at its source.

The government has rules and restrictions about the data it is allowed to collect and connect. The reasons for these rules and restrictions is to prevent precisely what is happening now. So what does the government do? Change the rules? No. They just step around them by using the information collected by others.

But it won't be long before Acxiom and companies like it are considered to be a part of the government just as the Federal Reserve Bank is...

Re:It smells in here. (3, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317658)

"The government has rules and restrictions about the data it is allowed to collect and connect. "

Are you kidding?

In the US, there are VERY few laws about personal data collection and distribution. If you read the article, it says Acxiom and these other companies are very wary about selling this information to the insurance companies for this usage, in fear that it might trip up some regulations that do exist (with the FTC I think?).

But really, with the exception for HIPAA type information, in the USA, it is pretty much the wild west out there...anyone can gather what information they want on you, and use it in almost any fashion without any repercussions from the very few laws that do exist out there concerning this.

And these companies don't want this kind of attention, nor this kind of regulation in the future. They make a LOT of money with this stuff.

One interesting project Acxiom had going on back in the day, was to come up with the perfect personal identifier, so as to make it easier to identify you as you moved, married, changed names, changed SSN, etc. They want to track you from birth to death, and by now, I'm sure they do a pretty darned good job of it.

I do not condone violence like you alluded to...there are innocent people there working that are just trying to earn a living. And it is a free country, and this is perfectly legal what they do. If you don't like it..legal action is the path to take.

Re:It smells in here. (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317932)

The rules and restrictions I speak of are only applicable to GOVERNMENT. For example, there are ample laws in place to prevent the use of social security numbers for purposes other than social security account management. But there are not laws that say entities other than government can't use that number and so they do. In fact, there's no law that says state and local government can't -- the law only applies to federal government. But there are also laws preventing the sharing of collected law enforcement data among agencies as well. The ability to share such data among agencies was a hot topic not too long ago. Where were you?

As for violence against innocents go, we get more than our share of it by "doing nothing." Just as in the case of concealed handgun permits, we only stand to reduce needless violence by taking action rather than doing nothing and being passive.

More and more we hear about police violence justified by "resistance" by the people. And increasingly, video evidence to that proves the "government lied" emerges... which results in more actions to make illegal such recordings. The cycle goes on and on. "Doing nothing" will result in the problems getting worse and more and more innocents falling victim.

I know I don't have the balls to do anything myself and would likely report anyone I knew who would be the next McVeigh. But still -- I sit back quietly and hope for the removal of various things I see as a big problem in the world. Those include:

1. Spammers
2. Advertisers/Marketers
3. Legal-system-abusing trolls
4. ...and lots more...

I fail to list "corrupt politicians" because I don't see them as a problem as much as they are a symptom. EVERYONE, including myself, is corruptible. Corruption is a problem of opportunity, not of character.

And as far as innocent employees of Acxiom goes? Really? Are you serious? I know the job market has its problems, but anyone who works at Acxiom knows what Acxiom does and that, at the very least, being employed there exposes them to risk of angry people. So unless there are people who just stopped in to ask for directions, there aren't many innocents at Acxiom.

Similarly, there is a growing list of business types that I will not work for. Among these are:

1. Jewelers and related (debeers)
2. Advertising/Marketing companies
3. Intellectual property driven businesses
4. ...and more...

See a pattern here? I also will not work for any company involved in the Miltary Industrial Complex... same reasons. No innocents -- when you are making bullets for sale to the military, the chances are good that what you touched with your hands will be used to kill people. How innocent are THEY?

Re:It smells in here. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318492)

The Federal Reserve Bank is part of the government. It was created by an act of Congress and its Board of Governors is appointed by the President (and confirmed by the Senate). However, each member of the Board of Governors serves for a 14 year term. Additionally, the President selects a member of the Board of Governors to appoint for a 4 year term as Chairman and a second member to serve a 4 year term as Vice Chairman.
So to repeat, the Federal Reserve is a government body. Its governing Board is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. What makes this whole thing more complicated is that the Regional Federal Reserve Banks are not exactly part of the government (they are, also, not exactly private organizations, either).
I have serious doubts as to whether those involved with the writing and approval of the Constitution would consider the Federal Reserve to be Constitutional as currently constructed. I suspect that even Alexander Hamilton (the strongest proponent of a central bank from the period) would have a problem with the way the Federal Reserve was created.

Re:It smells in here. (2, Interesting)

XorNand (517466) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317818)

Using front companies that present themselves as marketing or advertising agencies, Choicepoint (since purchased by LexisNexis) buys data from pizza delivery places. Apparently it's a great way to be able to correlate unpublished or cellular phone numbers to a particular address.

Re:It smells in here. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317716)

I work for Acxiom now, and can tell you they don't keep online tracking stats. I think people give them more credit then what they are capable of doing. I sometimes wish they would start a project like that, as I get bored with the majority of the development work here.

Re:It smells in here. (3, Informative)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318736)

Its not in their interest to tell the real story. If one thing can be learned from history, its that corporations will not regulate themselves.

This is why anonymity is important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34316760)

Even if you understand the risks *now* to your privacy, people will find ways to abuse it later.

Therefore, the only real safeguard is anonymity and the ability to hide who you are online. All other arguments against anonymity are always made by people who stand to make more money or having more control by knowing everything about you with your online persona. For everyone else, you're better off being completely anonymous online except when you choose to reveal yourself.

Screening differences = huge cost differences (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34316788)

Because of the volumes of insurance contracts processed by small companies (foreclosure situations case in point), anyone who does not 'fit the mold' of the initial screen will probably be rejected.

I myself needed to take up a loan once here in the UK because I had after a year-long degree managed to secure a high paying job, but needed to secure the last rent payment. If my bank had shut down my account it would have been a terrible blow to my reputation at the new firm. Unfortunately all loan applications are processed by screens, and they all look ask whether you have worked in gainful employment for the last 6 months or something along those lines (yes, even my own bank).

Despite having a signed contract to come in at £80k I could not even borrow £500 at a lender charging 2000%.

In consumer banking and finance screens are almighty and firms will simply reject whoever doesn't pass them. There is no reason why the situation for social patterns that need manual processing to end up differently from income patterns that need manual processing.

The First Amendment is Obsolete (4, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316792)

The First Amendment becomes meaningless as limits to speech come more and more from the corporate sector. In a world where everything you do and say is recorded and databased, and where industries (like insurance) are increasingly dominated by just a few players, stepping out of line even once can have dire consequences. The blacklist is back.

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316872)

Yeah, it's totally outrageous that an insurance company would want to accurately characterize the risk associated with each potential customer, I mean, that would let them do things like operate their business efficiently, or offer less risky customers lower rates (this is just the other way of saying that they will use the information to charge risky customers extra...).

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34316942)

or offer less risky customers lower rates

You talk like they would actually *offer* said lower rates...

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (2, Insightful)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317272)

So long as there is competition between insurers there will be lower rates for the less risky customers. If the risk is balanced correctly with the cost, insurers are still basically printing money.

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34316966)

The problem being that one can always find a problem with a customer if you search deep enough. With this they have the proof of why they will rate everybody higher and nobody will be able to dispute the "facts."

Posting as AC... no karma whoring today.

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317136)

Conveniently, there is more than 1 greedy insurance company out there.

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (2, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317032)

offer less risky customers lower rates

Pull the other one, it's got bells on.

This will be used to gouge customers arbitrarily, like any and other possible excuse has been used.

My g/f moved in with me recently. The house we live in is 600 yards from her parents house, and on the same estate. They are connected by the same road running through the estate. Turn right for the road to her mom's house, left for ours.

Her insurance premium went up by over £300 (an increase of approx 80%). The reason was that the post code was more at risk. A post code one letter different to the one she resided under previously.

Insurance companies are out to gouge you for profit, and you can't say no unless you're a multi millionaire and can guarantee you can afford the bill if something goes wrong. Don't think they're out to do anything for you. Ever.

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (4, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317210)

It seems a lot more likely to me that they'll use the information retroactively, to deny valid claims. Get in a late night car accident and you may be on the hook for all the liability that they originally told you would be covered because someone with the handle Maxume posted on Car And Driver's reader forum about participating in illegal street racing.

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317536)

I live in a no-fault state (which probably doesn't mean they are unable to try to deny a claim, it just means they are unlikely to bother trying).

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316890)

Why shouldn't the insurance industry try and load the odds in their favour?

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317286)

Fortunately in America we are free to pick and choose what products and services we buy!

If we dislike the business practices of our Insurance companies we can leave at any time. There's no law that says we must have insuran...

...oh. Right.

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (2, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317306)

If it makes the fat slob who smokes and drinks too much pay more and me less instead of forcing me to support his bad habits, OK with me.

If you're the fat slob, you might disagree.

Re:The First Amendment is Obsolete (2, Informative)

Soldrinero (789891) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317850)

If you think that a "fat slob" paying more for his insurance means that you'll pay less, you have a very naive view of insurance companies. Or companies in general. Also, how diligent do you think they'll be to check that you're not a fat slob? Remember that banks have been foreclosing on houses that weren't even in default!

Nothing new here (4, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 2 years ago | (#34316812)

Insurance companies will use whatever information they can get their hands on to try and make sure that what they get paid for providing insurance is appropriate for the risk profile of who/what they are insuring.

It is a core part of their business model to correctly determine the risk profiles of the individual/situation for which they are providing insurance so that they charge the right premium and in aggregate make a profit.

Many of us want to make sure that our genetic information doesn't get collected at thrown into a public database because it would sooner or later end up in the hands of insurance companies and affect our personal premiums for everything from medical insurance to car insurance.

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317046)

And yet when they DO collect the information, why is it that the price only goes up. It has never been about rightsizing the risk, but about justifying charging more.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317386)

Must be your lifestyle. Typically the more information the insurance companies collect, the lower my premiums get.

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317066)

Taken to it's logical conclusion the insurance premium will equal the certainty (not probability) of the amount of a claim by an individual plus a profit margin for the 'insurance' company. At that point, there will be no insurance risk to insure, just a profit to be collected in excess of each and every claim made. With enough information every outcome is determinable.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317204)

If they were making that much money, why not invest in them? Most are public companies, after all.

The truth of the matter is that the average insurance company (not talking medical here, just "normal" insurance) sucks a bunch of money out of the system in terms of salaries, etc, but typically pays out as much or more money in claims as they take in in premiums. They make their profit and pay their expenses by holding "float", investing the premium money until they need to pay it back out.

From a business standpoint, you expect to pay about as much in insurance premiums as you get back in benefits - what you're "buying" is the smoothing of events - pay a bit each month instead of a lot every decade.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317360)

I would welcome that. Once the premiums are balanced with the cost of the risk (plus profit) the product becomes more reasonable IMO. At that point the customer has the real option of either not taking insurance and managing risk themselves, or taking insurance and not having to worry about saving to manage risk. The cost of that risk management service is the profit taken by the insurer. If that profit margin is too high, customers will leave and manage their own risk. It's balancing.

The concern I have now is that I know my premiums do not reflect my personal risk. My premiums represent the shared risk of every member of my employers small group plan. This might be a fair exchange, it might not. I don't know, because my insurers are not allowed to tailor their coverage to my unique situation (unique in that every persons situation is unique).

Re:Nothing new here (1)

lazlo (15906) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317188)

I see this as a fantastic opportunity to have insurance companies' actuaries work for me for free. Now I know that if I apply for insurance and get immediately accepted, then I shouldn't buy it, as the company has determined (probably correctly) that I don't need it. If they really put me through the ringer, that means they're not sure they can make a profit on me, so there's at least some chance I'm not just throwing my money out the window at them.

I do think it's interesting how, the more accurate the predictive powers of actuarial science becomes, the more insurance approximates not having insurance at all.

Hmm ways to fight back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317012)

Ok well there are several ways to go:

1. Become a hippy and forgo all things digital. You may be able to shower in peace, but if you live in the woods no one will come looking for you anyway so you are pretty safe.

2. Become a politician or lawyer (is there really a difference?) and fight back. Although your soul may be required as payment to become a politician or lawyer so you may not actually fight back.

3. Create a large corporation and fight back. However, see #2 for potential required payment.

4. Create a way more extreme and way more controversial method for tracking. Make it so damn invasive and humiliating that people would see reasons for privacy. CRAP, the TSA has done this already and it didn't work!

OK, well I am out of ideas. Long live privacy! Privacy is dead! (Note to my insurance companies: I love you guys and I took the train to work so I don't put many miles on my car and always obey the speed limit so I am a safe driver and I swear I am eating healthy today. Uh, we are having lean turkey for Thanksgiving and my bowel movements are fine, thanks so much for caring!!! All the best to my favorite insurance companies in the world. You guys know who you are! Oh and um, those TSA scanner things, they add about 35 - 50 pounds to your actual weight, just so you know.).

That's ok (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317018)

I buy platinum insurance [eveonline.com] for all my ships. Since I'm already at the top rate, it can't go up any further...

Re:That's ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317446)

After they nerfed Insurance, I had to stop manufacturing and blowing up about 20B isk ($1000) of ships each day for insurance money.

See page 35, the graph shows my losses as I used suicide by police rather than just normal suicide to blow up ships over twice as fast as others.

-Magic Acid

Fear more powerful than facts (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317138)

We see this reality at play everywhere from religion to medicine to the stock market. Anti-gun people even today have conveniently ignored the positive effects of concealed handgun licenses across the US and continue to cry "blood in the streets."

And of course insurance companies are looking for new excuses to raise rates. (How often do you see rates decline? Not often... I have USAA insurance, but they seem the be the only exception... my rates went down again with my most recent renewal.) Greed knows no limits. It's the justification and reasonableness that are growing more and more scarce.

I would say that this is "old news" or not news at all if it weren't for the fact that people simply need to learn to accept and embrace certain aspects of the reality of human nature that are continually used against us all. We don't use facts when fear is so much more effective at getting the immediate results desired.

Wondered how long before this would happen? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317498)

This is not good, not good at all...wait, what? Posting on Slashdot just lowered my rates by 15% or more?

Well good luck finding me (2, Informative)

spectro (80839) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317518)

I was lucky enough to think of using a pseudonym the first time I got online through a 2400 bps modem and I have kept that since then. It was really useful when I got hired as programmer for a defense contractor, I caught my manager goggling me and of course he found nothing. I use fake names in social networks... my friends know who really I am.

Only websites where I use my real identity are the ones who already got my personal info through other means (banks, credit cards, insurance, etc).

Re:Well good luck finding me (3, Insightful)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317792)

I've been using a pseudonym for a long long time...but that includes creating accounts for WoW or whatever other services, and I've given them enough billing information for someone to link my pseudonym and my real name.

So Mr spectro, you've really used a pseudonym and kept that pseudonym separate from anything that could be traced to you? Because otherwise you're just one data breech away from the link.

Re:Well good luck finding me (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318768)

Spell your name wrongly. Works for me. I spell mine with a regional accent, which is how everyone says my name anyway.

Inda since 1997 (where good sites allow four character names).

Re:Well good luck finding me (1)

joost (87285) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317886)

Have you been using the same pseudonym since you first went online? If it's reasonably unique it only takes one slipup or one leak and it can be tied to your name. Bam they know all about your leet haxor skills with nothing you can really do. Personally, I use a different alias for every new website. Track that!

not that hard to find you... (1)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317998)

I was lucky enough to think of using a pseudonym the first time I got online through a 2400 bps modem and I have kept that since then. It was really useful when I got hired as programmer for a defense contractor, I caught my manager goggling me and of course he found nothing. I use fake names in social networks... my friends know who really I am.

do you really think that makes you hard to find? first of all, are you 100% sure you never used your real name and pseudonym in the same place, or in places that are associated in some way?
second: social networks. i just need to know 1 of your friends who happens to use his real name on facebook, and I will be able to find you. did you know that facebook considers certain information public,regardless of your privacy settings, and that this information includes your list of friends?

Re:Well good luck finding me (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 2 years ago | (#34318722)

The real trick is to build some tools that will cause an online persona with your name to do all the right things. Join exercise and health discussion groups. Avoid any being associated with people who smoke or drink. Maybe there is a market in bots that will make you look good to insurance companies, law enforcement, etc.

You can then do all your real social interaction with your pseudonym

This WILL happen, get over it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317566)

which means we need legislation to be prepared.

IAAIB (I am an insurance broker, not in the US though), and do online stuff for a living. This doesn't mean I'm qualified, I simply see how the insurance companies work.

It is an integral part of an insurer's business to screen as much information as possible on a risk. In some countries its a LAW that the insurer has to behave like this.
Remember, in an ideal world, the best interest of the insurer IS the best interest of all other insured parties. Having an Insurer fail is a BIG issue. It's at least 150 years that most legislations have this kind of attitude.

The only possible, partial, solution to the online data scraping and/or worse the genetic data screening, is to mandate by law that the insurer disclose, to each submitter individually, the info used to screen him AND the related result for each datum.
See you posted on facebook a 2 am +5% premium.
Look at this gene! We won't cover heart attacks.

Information is POWER. Information wants to be free.
The bad isn't that the insurer finds and uses information (good luck regulating that effectively anyways).
The REALLY BAD is the insurer knows you much better than you ever will at least in respect to risk. And this takes your freedom away.

Anonymous proxies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317568)

... use them

beware gamers (1)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 2 years ago | (#34317834)

Looks like I have to be more careful if I look up Need For Speed or Gotham Racing... I obviously have a thrill for high speed street racing... I just hope they don't see that I also checked out GTA, I don't want them to find out I like to make bonfires from pileups!

if you have to say "could",you have nothing to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34317838)

it's not information unless you are giving the odds; or make a definitive statement.

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