ECG Biometric Significance for Insurance Providers

Auto applicability has attracted leading vehicle manufacturers, such as Tesla and BMW to invest much resources into implementing biometric technology across their range. Harnessing trusted cardio health whilst monitoring stress and fatigue levels, ECG biometrics has potential to revolutionise road safety and optimise the driving experience.

ECG biometric technology is the quintessential modality for automotive application. It supports multiple use cases and applications. The technology offers deployment flexibility for auto OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) as it can be accessed on a wearable device or sensors integrated anywhere into the car’s infrastructure - most commonly the steering wheel - supporting identification and health, wellness and wellbeing (HWW) applications.

These capabilities reflect a whole new frontier for automotive insurance brokers; one whereby an astute decision can be made with minimal risk because of inimitable data insights validated through driver authentication. Let’s look at automotive insurance implications of adopting biometrics.

Where the technology is today?

Biometrics are renowned for delivering enhanced security to a range of applications. This feature is currently most evident on devices and environments with facial, finger or thumbprint security. The advent of biometric security in the automotive sector, for example on Tesla’s fingerprint and iris recognition functionalities, heralds the dawning of enhanced security, making cars harder to steal.

Some of our current payment services now rely on biometrics, with convenience and security being the main instigators for innovation. Building an infrastructure that facilitates cashless automotive transactions is already underway.

The problem with first generation biometrics, fingerprint and iris scanning, is the potential for data hacking. In 2019 the fingerprints of over 1 million people, as well as facial recognition information, unencrypted usernames and passwords, and personal information of employees, was discovered on a publicly accessible database.

By comparison, ECG biometric authentication is harder to spoof or steal as reported by US researcher:

Compared with face, cardiac biometrics are more stable and can reach more than 98% accuracy.

Consumer acceptance and adoption of wearable devices has grown and shows no sign of slowing down, according to research “5 million individuals will be remotely monitored via wearable tech by healthcare providers by 2023”. The next steps involve ECG biometrics gaining the trust of the consumer through personalised accuracy and trending data to enhance experience.

A personalised driving experience, that affords greater convenience and comfort, is destined to be in our future. Using HeartKey® user identification supports personalisation allowing in car functions such as seat height, radio settings, temperature control and more, to be automatic.

Accurately monitoring stress and fatigue while simultaneously detecting cardiac arrhythmia through HeartKey® harnessing and filtering the ECG signal will provide an array of valuable physiological and psychological insight that won’t just optimise driver experience but could save lives.

What are the insurance implications?

HeartKey® can tell who you are and how well you are.

Insurance companies are researching ways to use biometrics and user authentication to hone their underwriting decisions. This allows them to attach specific, tailored premiums to whomever is driving. This ability will create more accurate underwriting, one that potentially benefits safer drivers whom, perhaps, in the past have not benefited as much as they’d like to have done despite a history of diligently cautious motoring.

The next logical step for a complete trusted solution to be used effectively by insurers is the implementation of progressive biometric technology. It’s likely that automotive insurance will evolve into a more fluid concept. For example, integrated ECG monitoring will identify individual drivers and harness rich health and wellness data.

This could prove to be very useful for insurance companies as they can easily adjust insurance premiums based on relevant, irrefutable information. With cloud capabilities HeartKey® can build a complete picture of a specific driver’s health and wellness over time. Providing insurers with a better insight from which to determine changing premiums, restrictions or whether or not to insure at all.

Moreover, ECG has the potential to accelerate the entire claims process. In obtaining data directly from the car, a claims handler will have access to rich insight specific to the driver in the event of an insurance claim being made. This will drastically reduce the number of fraudulent claims by not having to rely on the information of parties who may be convinced to lie when questioned.

This is not purely for domestic use, this technology could provide life saving data for commercial and long distance drivers. Department of Transportation estimates that “8,000 of all truck accidents occurring each year are due to a tired truck driver.” The power of this technology could potentially make drivers more cautious when driving, taking less risks and ultimately resulting in safer roads.

What are the risks of using biometric data for insurance purposes?

Like all technology, there are a handful of inherent risks when adopting biometric automotive identification. However, it’s important to realise that despite the sophistication of the technology, the risks are no more sobering than of using mobile devices or the cloud.

The most obvious risk is the theft of personal data. In theory, inscrutable individuals have access to a treasure trove of personal data which is stored in in the car and transmitted in real time to the cloud. Whether they have the means or ability to access and hijack data packets is another matter altogether.

The innovation of the technology and its relative newness means that even the most persistent fraudsters will have a challenge accessing biometric data. A continual stream of updates will further bolster private data meaning that hackers will not only have to invent new methods of gaining access to any stored data but evolve continually to keep attempting incursion.

The unique properties of an individual ECG profile ensure exceptional anti-spoofing with its rich, internal biometric it cannot be readily stolen or replicated. The benefit of authentication and health and wellness data is unlike any other biometric modality. The recent surge of ECG awareness (Apple Watch and Withings) will only boost consumer interest demand and subsequent. The need and time for ECG is now.

ECG biometric implications on insurance

The swift and decisive developments in biometrics for automotive application have created much excitement and potential over what a car in the future will be capable of achieving. Autonomy on the same level as smart homes, unbreakable security, and the ability to actively monitor and alert us to our health and wellbeing are just three of the ways that automotive biometrics are destined to revolutionise motoring.

Such a vast evolution in automotive technology is bound to have a profound effect on insurance. From what has already been confirmed, it seems that biometric insights will vastly improve decision-making.

Adopting this technology will lead to safer roads, more confident motoring, access to vital information and enhanced security. Insurance underwriters will be able to make better, truly personalised premium decisions as opposed to computer generated ones that benefit specific drivers, learn vital information about the nature of claims and reduce fraud.

B-Secur continues to develop, expand and upgrade or innovative suite of ECG algorithms, HeartKey®, the possibilities and opportunities brought by such high-grade software is limitless.

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