Sensitive health information being shared with insurers is likely to severely damage consumer trust in health companies and insurers, as resistance to sharing data with either of them was already high. An Observer investigation in the Guardian found that UK private health companies had been sharing data donated for medical research to insurers without permission on several occasions between 2020 and 2023.
GlobalData’s 2022 UK Insurance Consumer Survey (results shown above) found that there was already a relatively high level of resistance to sharing data with insurers. It found that a total of 88.7% of respondents were concerned about the loss, theft, or misuse of personal data (55.8% were slightly concerned, 28.0% were concerned, and 4.9% so concerned they would consider buying insurance against identity theft and loss of personal data). Only 11.3% of respondents had no concerns on this topic. Furthermore, when asking respondents who were against sharing health data from a device such as a smartwatch with insurers why they held this opinion, concerns around the use of the data were a popular answer. The most popular response was ‘not wanting to wear a device,’ but three options heavily linked to concerns around how data is used were also frequently selected. ‘It is sharing too much personal data,’ ‘I have privacy concerns,’ and ‘I don’t understand why an insurer would need this data’ were three of the top four answers to this question.
Therefore, the level of resistance to sharing personal data was already high before this damaging story in a national newspaper. Although the insurers involved have not been named, it is still likely to impact the whole industry. Collecting and analysing personal data is crucial for insurers, as it allows them to improve their risk profiling and underwriting and create more accurate pricing. It can also allow them to track behaviour over time and consequently incentivize consumers to improve aspects such as their health or driving, which reduces the chances of a claim. The insurance industry often fares poorly in consumer trust indexes. It therefore needs to ensure that it is squeaky clean with consumer data. If not, it will face significant fines due to GDPR regulations, and it will not take much to dissuade consumers from sharing personal data that can be used to help both parties.
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