Shortly after I returned from IsoTech last November, I received one of those forwarded "chain" e-mails. Unlike most chain e-mails I receive, I actually read this one, and, surprisingly, it pertained to a controversial topic that came up at ISOTech during the roundtable session, titled "The Next 'Killer Technology' in Insurance."Panelist Kevin Kelly, managing director, U.S. insurance industry, Microsoft Corp., said he thought sensing technologies were the next killer technology, and he described how radio frequency identification devices could be attached to people or assets to enable the industry to obtain a plethora of information about who or what it's insuring. "There's a privacy element," he admitted. "But people will give up some privacy for convenience."

Elaborating on this theme, panelist Jamie Bisker, global insurance industry leader at IBM's Institute for Business Value, gave an example: An RFID chip could be embedded in a person's body to relay health information. If a person is predisposed to diabetes, for example, an insurer could offer that person a standard rate if the person agrees to participate in a disease-management program, which would include wearing the little chip under the skin. Bisker said he'd gladly do that to obtain a lower rate.

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