Instead of tea leaves or Tarot Cards, Lapetus Solutions uses proprietary algorithms and AI to predict your future – by reading your face.
It’s not for entertainment, it’s serious science helping financial advisors and insurance companies tailor products that will provide annuities and coverage for individuals around the world. Lapetus, a long-time tenant of the CIE and a successful UNCW faculty spinout, responds to the need for data-driven insurance and financial tools and contact-free health assessments. The company recently became a licensed Longevity Estimate Provider with full regulatory approval.
Has Covid-19 impacted Lapetus? Karl Ricanek, Jr., PhD, co-founder and chief AI scientist, says it’s an interesting time for the company. Applications for life settlements and life insurance have slowed – with consumers resisting the in-person contact required for medical exams. Individuals are reluctant to sell life insurance policies with the uncertain trajectory of the pandemic. Still, the need for data to support decisions on these policies continues to grow; Lapetus had one life estimate client 18 months ago and has a dozen today.
Increasingly, insurance carriers want to expedite health assessments for rapid underwriting. With the Lapetus medical selfie and answers to a set of questions, new policies can be underwritten in minutes instead of weeks. Historically, blood and urine samples were collected during an in-person paramed exam. The pandemic has made scheduling these difficult. In South Africa, for instance, paramed exams were prohibited this spring, leading a carrier there to turn to Lapetus for a better solution.
The need for longevity data for large-scale annuity programs is ramping up. Lapetus recently inked a deal to provide individual longevity estimates for an Asian country to determine risk profiles for new Social Security-like government-backed annuities for its citizens. Accurate data will assure the program is adequately funded.
How about a personal assessment? Lapetus offers a genetic test developed by their scientists to determine whether you have the genes for exceptional longevity. Start with a 23 and Me report on your ancestry, then share the data with Lapetus to gain additional health information, including your potential for early onset Alzheimer’s and other chronic diseases.
Lapetus got its start with a phone call seven years ago when cofounder, S. Jay Olshansky, PhD, chief science officer, said “Hey, I have this crazy idea and you’re the only person that can build this technology”. At the time, Ricanek was working on a U.S. Government sponsored project and questioning why chronological age algorithm accurately predicted age using facial analytics for 80% of test subjects, but not the other 20%. It turns out he was accurately measuring something else – biological age. Senescencing is the rate at which subjects biologically age. Some people senescence faster due to genetic contributors and extrinsic factors (including alcohol use, depression, and smoking) and die sooner.
What’s the future of Lapetus? Building out the platform, taking the company public, and exiting? Or setting up a life insurance company for certain products? Growing to be the next largest insurance company in the U.S.? There are multiple paths to a $1B valuation over the next two years.
Fortunately, as Lapetus faces new opportunities, Ricanek continues with research and promoting innovation at UNCW and the CIE. The face of InsurTech in Wilmington is here to stay.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.