Actuarial Innovation and Technology Topic - Epigenetics & Underwriting White Paper

Background and Purpose

Advances in molecular biology are leading to new innovations in underwriting technologies. One area of molecular science gaining attention is the science of epigenetics. This emerging area of research appears to be bringing new ways of answering age old underwriting questions, which could drive shifts in insurance underwriting protocols. As a result, many facets of the underwriting process are likely to evolve in the future as this research is developed. Underwriting, reserving, claims management, and customer engagement, among other areas, will be impacted. The purpose of this white paper is to provide information to actuaries regarding:

  • The basic science of epigenetics,
  • The difference between genetics and epigenetics, and
  • The future potential for epigenetics and how it may evolve insurance industry practice, with a focus on its impact on actuaries.

Research Objective

The Actuarial Innovation & Technology Program Steering Committee (AITPSC) is seeking a researcher to prepare a white paper that provides information regarding the use of epigenetics by the actuarial profession. The report would additionally provide the reader with background information regarding the history of epigenetics, as well as ways in which the use of epigenetics is likely to impact the profession in the future. The goal is to illustrate the current and future evolution of the use of epigenetics and provide an informative report to the actuarial community on the topic.


The paper should cover the following topics:

  • Background information regarding the science of epigenetics
  • Detailed summary and history of scientific research in epigenetics
  • Overview of current medical underwriting protocols
  • Overview of current risk classification methodologies
  • Discuss how epigenetic technology will be used to provide specific and quantifiable underwriting and risk classification information
  • Examine the current state of epigenetics and how it is likely to evolve in the near future
  • Detailed discussion regarding the advantages of using epigenetics
  • Concerns with using epigenetics for accelerated underwriting protocols
  • Managing resulting epigenetic data and Accountability Act (HIPAA) legal requirements
  • Dealing with confidential information: chronic disease states, mental health issues, etc.
  • Using epigenetics to empower consumers to improve their health and reverse the aging process
  • How epigenetics will impact the underwriting process
  • How epigenetics is affecting other parts of the insurance business
  • Discuss the protective value being provided from epigenetic technology
  • Benefit / protective value considerations of using epigenetics instead of or in conjunction with paramedical exams and case management
  • Review strategy to measure the impact of epigenetics on emerging consumer experience
  • Some observations as to where epigenetic technology and the sharing of data may go in the future
  • Costs of using epigenetic technology in the underwriting process
  • Case studies

To facilitate the evaluation of proposals, the following information should be submitted:

  1. Resumes of the researcher(s), including any graduate student(s) expected to participate, indicating how their background, education and experience bear on their qualifications to undertake the research. If more than one researcher is involved, a single individual should be designated as the lead researcher and primary contact. The person submitting the proposal must be authorized to speak on behalf of all the researchers as well as for the firm or institution on whose behalf the proposal is submitted.
  2. An outline of the approach to be used (e.g. literature search, model, etc.), emphasizing issues that require special consideration. Details should be given regarding the techniques to be used, collateral material to be consulted, and possible limitations of the analysis.
  3. A description of the expected deliverables and any supporting data, tools or other resources.
  4. Cost estimates for the research, including computer time, salaries, report preparation, material costs, etc. Such estimates can be in the form of hourly rates, but in such cases, time estimates should also be included. Any guarantees as to total cost should be given and will be considered in the evaluation of the proposal. While cost will be a factor in the evaluation of the proposal, it will not necessarily be the decisive factor.
  5. A schedule for completion of the research, identifying key dates or time frames for research completion and report submissions. The AITPSC is interested in completing this project in a timely manner. Suggestions in the proposal for ensuring timely delivery, such as fee adjustments, are encouraged.
  6. Other related factors that give evidence of a proposer's capabilities to perform in a superior fashion should be detailed.

Selection Process

The AITPSC will appoint a Project Oversight Group (POG) to oversee the project. The AITPSC is responsible for recommending the proposal to be funded. Input from other knowledgeable individuals also may be sought, but the AITPSC or POG will make the final recommendation, subject to SOA leadership approval. The SOA's Research Actuary will provide staff actuarial support.


Any questions regarding this RFP should be directed to Dale Hall, SOA Managing Director of Research (phone: 847-273-8835; email:

Notification of Intent To Submit Proposal

If you intend to submit a proposal, please e-mail written notification by October 25, 2019 to Korrel Crawford (

Submission of Proposal

Please e-mail a copy of the proposal to Korrel Crawford.

Proposals must be received no later than November 15, 2019. It is anticipated that all proposers will be informed of the status of their proposal by the end of December, 2019.

Note: Proposals are considered confidential and proprietary.


The selection of a proposal is conditioned upon and not considered final until a Letter of Agreement is executed by both the Society of Actuaries and the researcher.

The SOA and AITPSC reserve the right to not award a contract for this research. Reasons for not awarding a contract could include, but are not limited to, a lack of acceptable proposals or a finding that insufficient funds are available. The SOA and AITPSC also reserve the right to redirect the project as is deemed advisable.

The SOA and AITPSC plan to hold the copyright to the research and to publish the results with appropriate credit given to the researcher(s).

The SOA and AITPSC may choose to seek public exposure or media attention for the research. By submitting a proposal, you agree to cooperate with the SOA and AITPSC in publicizing or promoting the research and responding to media requests.

The SOA and AITPSC may also choose to market and promote the research to members, candidates and other interested parties. You agree to perform promotional communication requested by the SOA and AITPSC, which may include, but is not limited to, leading a webcast on the research, presenting the research at an SOA meeting, and/or writing an article on the research for an SOA newsletter.