What do you know about me? Digital privacy and online data sharing in the UK insurance sector

Published date25 November 2019
Date25 November 2019
AuthorIan R. Blakesley,Anca C. Yallop
subjectMatterInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance,Information & communications technology
What do you know about me?
Digital privacy and online data
sharing in the UK insurance sector
Ian R. Blakesley
Winchester Business School, University of Winchester,
Winchester, UK, and
Anca C. Yallop
AUT Business School, Auckland University of Technology,
Auckland, New Zealand
Purpose In additionto data transforming the insurance sectorfrom within, insurance consumers andtheir
behaviour has transformed signicantly over the past 20 years from traditional retail to, predominantly,
online trading. Data are a fundamental part of how the sector operates, andthe use of data in insurance is
constantly evolving. This paper aims to explore consumer perceptions about digital privacy and their
subsequentmotivations to disclose personal data for insurance purposes.
Design/methodology/approach The study uses an exploratoryresearch approach based on in-depth
interviews to generate metathemes to provide an understanding of consumer perceptions about digital
privacy and datasharing in the insurance sector.
Findings Consumers were extrinsicallymotivated to disclose data by nancial reward and convenience;
however, subsequent intrinsic motivations may be an inuence on the initial motivations. Consumers
perceived transactions as fairif they received the expected rewards, retainedcontrol of the data, and the
data was not unilaterallyused to their detriment. Concern for privacywas generally low, provided antecedent
conditionswere met.
Research limitations/implications As the study uses an exploration for discovery approach, the
main limitation of this study is its small sample. However,this research aimed to identify metathemes and
issues that may be the focus of futureresearch in this area and is, therefore, not proposing to suggest strong
conclusionsand denitive answers.
Originality/value This paper presents the rst empiricalresearch to examine data privacy issues in the
UK insurance context. It contributes to knowledge in the areas of motivation, applied ethics and online
consumerbehaviour in general.
Keywords Ethics, Motivation, Data privacy, Insurance, Online data sharing
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
In recent years, e-Commerce has signicantly changed the way businesses interact with
consumers and has had a particular inuence in the insurance sector. Historically, in this
sector data was a by-product of an insurance transaction. Nowadays, data is central to the
pricing of products (Minty, 2016), claim management (Guillen et al.,2019;Smith, 2019), and
the understanding of consumer behaviour.This is largely because of three key technological
trends. Firstly, the vast amounts of data produced globally (Nunan and Di Domenico, 2013;
Verdino, 2013) has created an abundance of publicly available data (Nov et al.,2010). This
data can either be generatedpassively by users of products and services as so-called digital
Digital privacy
and online
data sharing
Received12 April 2019
Revised4 September 2019
27October 2019
Accepted31 October 2019
Journalof Information,
Communicationand Ethics in
Vol.18 No. 2, 2020
pp. 281-303
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JICES-04-2019-0046
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
exhaust(Wang, 2013;Barocas and Nissenbaum, 2014) created by mobile devices (Shilton,
2009) or explicitly shared on social networking platforms. Secondly, advances in the
capability (Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier, 2013) and reductions in the cost of data-
processing technology have enabledthis data to be widely and cost-effectively accessible to
companies (Richards and King, 2014). Finally, in addition to data transforming the
insurance sector from within, insurance sales processing itself has changed signicantly in
the past 20 years.It has transformed from a more traditional retail or telesales approachto a
predominantly online market supplemented by telephone support (Salvin, 2009;Accenture,
2010;Ono et al., 2012;Wormleighton,2013). Global internet adoption is likely to increase, as
is the growth in usageof mobile devices for internet access (Internet Society,2014;Spaid and
Flint, 2014). These trends will further change both how and when consumers purchase
insurance, and subsequently, inuence how products are designed and marketed in future
(Kaikkonen, 2008;Ono et al.,2012). All these developments have subsequentimplications to
personal privacy (Culnan and Bies, 2003;Sarathy and Robertson, 2003). Therefore, an
examination and understanding of insurance consumersperceptions about digital privacy
and their motivations to share data online becomes importantand it represents the key aim
of this study.
The abundance of data and the act of processing data on a large scale has created the
concept of Big Data.Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier (2013) dene Big Dataas:
[...] things one can do at a large scale that cannot be done at a smaller one, to extract new
insights or create new forms of value, in ways that change markets, organisations, the
relationship between citizens and governments, and more (p. 6).
Big Data includes data from multiple internal and external sourcesand exhibits four
dimensions: volume, velocity, variety and veracity(IBM, 2014a). Veracitywas addedto
the original three dimensions providedby Laney (2001), to cater for questions of trust and
uncertaintyrelating to data analysis (Ward and Baker, 2013). The commonality in most
denitions is the large scale, and the ability to store and analyse data at this large scale.
However, largeand bigremain frustratingly undened (Ward and Baker, 2013), yet
continually growing(IBM, 2014a).
A wide variety of Big Data applications canbe regarded as benecial to businesses and
the UK insurance providers in particular.These include, amongst others: improved decision
making options and research insight (Fitzgerald et al.,2016), analytic insight (IBM, 2014b),
developments in machine learning technology and supporting software. The latter includes
software such as Power BI, which enableslarge-scale volumes of data to be presented and
reviewed in a user-friendly fashion (Mazumder and Dhar, 2006). The associated
improvements in cloudinfrastructure and hardware supporting Big Data has also driven the
costs of these services down and improved their performance (Mazumder and Dhar, 2006).
Specically, in the insurance sector,two key impacts have been felt. Firstly, improved data
collection and management has driven down the costs of managing claims. Secondly, data
has improved pricing effectiveness by allowing underwriters to create products with
competitive, tailored, data-informed pricing. This has enabled insurance brokers to carve
out their own competitive nichesbased on their handling of specic data collected from
apps, new smart devices and telematic boxes (Guillen et al., 2019). It has also improved
process efciency and allowed brokers to create brand new products for these new
platforms (Gayduk,2019).
Worldwide, growing numbers of people of all ages use the internet regularly, many of
them daily (Youn, 2009;Deloitte, 2013;Internet Society, 2014). Consumers are now familiar
with concepts such as recommendationsmade by websites and direct-marketingbased on

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