SCOR, a French reinsurer, reports that tests done by insurers find cotinine, a chemical compound of tobacco, in at least 5 to 15 per cent of applicants who claim to be non-smokers.
“Smoker amnesia” is what SCOR views as the highest mortality risk for insurers who practise accelerated underwriting programs, says the reinsurer in its newsletter on automated risk selection called The Industry Turns a Corner, published in January 2017.
If the presence of a test creates a sentinel effect, its absence prompts more people to lie, the reinsurer concludes from data gathered in the industry. “If applicants know that an insurer does not test for tobacco, it is likely that an even higher number will experience ‘smoker amnesia,’” SCOR explains. Facial analytics is one of the alternate methods that SCOR and its insurers are exploring to screen for tobacco use.