Underwriters start asking about social capital

Flickr photo by d2digital

I recently learned that Transamerica, at least, asks questions about social capital (participation in groups, volunteering, having a pet, etc.) for life insurance customers.  They won’t disclose what their criteria are for underwriting, but they believe that these activities (as research corroborates) reduce the threat of depression, and might implicitly be linked to life expectancy.  (Tip of the hat to Lew Feldstein)

For the moment, answers to these questions are not major factors in underwriting, but apparently make underwriters more comfortable taking on any client with a history of depression.

In the Saguaro Seminar, we posited that health insurers, in the same way as they give discounts for health club memberships, should give discounts to people who actively participated in groups, since this lowers the health risks of the insured.  We’ve written a bit about social capital and health insurance in the past, if you’re interested in reading more.


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