Charging your cell phone can increase your credit score?

May 18, 2016

The Financial Post reported that several dozen companies from around the world have developed ways to take cell phone use and other personal habits to predict creditworthiness. For example, people who don’t let their phone batteries run low tend to do the same for their debt balance. Borrowers who get more calls than they make are better risks, and applicants who state their loan purpose in a few words are better borrowers than those who end up writing an essay.

These companies say that phone use, web browsing and social media, utility payment records and psychometric tests all give lenders new ways to replicate, within seconds, the traditionally deliberate work of loan officers. Since phones are increasingly used to store and transfer money, they also carry a great deal of information about creditworthiness.


This got us thinking, what else has the technology already started to disrupt? 


Wearable Technology

Examples of wearable technology, or wearables, include the Fitbit, Apple Watch and Garmin vivofit. These devices are worn in the same way as a watch and can simply function as such, but also track steps taken and calories burned, provide workout summaries and help set and track fitness goals. They can also measure real-time information such as heart rate.The shift towards their use in determining insurance rates has already begun, wearable technologies would allow for detailed information about someone’s physical health and activity level to be measured and shared with a life insurance provider. Simply put, living a healthy lifestyle with frequent trips to the gym and improved health metrics could result in decreased life insurance premiums.

Manulife has already introduced a similar program for their life insurance product. Policy holders were provided with a Fitbit when they signed up and have the opportunity to earn points towards discounts on premiums in subsequent years. Points are earned by tracking fitness goals, reporting physical results and other health-related activities.  The information submitted is all controlled by the user and they only share information that they want with the insurer to protect their privacy and personal information.


Little Black Box in your Car

Information such as how long your vehicle went over 100 km per hour or how quickly and how often you slam on your brakes can be sent your insurance carrier to help get a reduction of your vehicle insurance, that is, if you stay under the limits. State Farm in the US has already partnered with Ford to install a tracking system to help record this data and it also works as a “black box” similar to what is in a plane. This can help to quickly determine fault in an accident and provide details including location and parts damaged for potentially instant estimates and faster claims. This information can potentially also be used by life insurance providers to help evaluate the risk of you getting into an accident. The safer you drive, the less risk you have.


Drones and Wild Fire Hazards

Farmers Insurance, a US insurer part of Zurich Insurance, will soon test drones to detect wildfire hazards in an attempt to mitigate and improve claim resolution. Drone are also being used to gain a detailed look at a disaster zone from the convenience and safety of an off-site location. Without the time and resources needed to travel, navigate broken transportation ways and assess large areas, adjusters could utilize drones to expedite the assessment and claims process.


Early-detection disease

Liquid Biopsy offers an easy and quick test to detect cancers by analysing the DNA of a small blood sample. This technique can provide more accurate data for your insurance risk profile and in turn aid early warning detection of diseases to help mitigate ill health, thus reducing claims costs. Furthermore, you will be able to purchase coverage according to your profile and not just based on your demographic.


Thermostats

Thermostats are no longer installed to simply help control the temperature of your home, they now detect humidity, smoke, and connect to other controls in the home environment, such as lighting, or alarm system.  These systems will reduce the level of risks for home insurance. As an example, humidity sensors can gather data on the level of humidity to detect flooding and leaks in the house. Moreover, AXA Insurance in Belgium has already partnered with NEST (a mobile-connected smoke and CO detector company) providing discount on NEST products for its home insurance policyholders.

For those insurance companies willing to embrace modernization and the way they engage with customers, there is a great deal of potential for you, the client, to take control of your coverage. There is a shift on the horizon where we’re seeing the industry move from product focus to client focus. Insurers are able to gain a more complete view of your situation, use a wealth of data to personalize products and interactions for you, and it allows you to "shop around” your data to companies and find the best price.

Resources:

  • Click here to read more on the Financial Post's article on cell phone's and credit ratings
  • Click here to read more on Manulife's Fitbit program

Pamela Coquet
Financial Strategist at Savanti Wealth

Want some more information? Send us an email or give us a call and we can help you at info@savanti.ca or (403)968-8443



Savanti is your no-nonsense, get it done, always got your back, tell it to you straight, make you laugh, and there if you need to cry - financial partner.

Share on

Suggested Reads