Tracking lives, forging markets

Maiju Tanninen, Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen, Minna Ruckenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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In the insurance industry, digital technologies have been harnessed in pursuit of three goals: personalising services for customers, obtaining information about them and nudging them towards behaviour that diminishes their risks. This article examines two Finnish companies that use self-tracking practices and sensor-generated data in life insurance products. It investigates the knowledges and practices mobilised in a design process that aims to transform the customer relationship from reactive to proactive. Insurers use three main strategies, educating, incentivising and partnering, in striving to align their aims with those of their customers. Instead of confirming narratives of ‘digital disruption’, this study argues that insurance should be understood as a historically specific technology within regulatory constraints and market frictions. The new policies’ most distinctive disruptive feature is the technological mediation of the customer relationship. Critical voices rightly point out that behaviour-based insurance carries the potential for discrimination and dataveillance. Our study shows, however, that critique remains abstract or even hypothetical if it does not consider existing practices and the difficulties that insurers face when implementing their ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-463
Issue number4
Early online date22 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Insurance
  • life insurance
  • market regulation
  • nudging
  • self-tracking
  • service design

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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