Here’s a new use for your smart phone, even if it is a tad uncomfortable to think about. Towers Watson’s U.K. office has released an app that allows users to estimate their own life expectancy. (Unfortunately, for those wishing to guess at their mortality on this side of the pond, the app is available only in the U.K.)

The free app, called TW LifeTime, uses the company’s research into mortality rates to show the user the average life expectancy of a pension plan member with the same age, gender and U.K. postal code profile as their own.

“Giving employees an idea of how long people like them are expected to live can help them think about retirement planning, when they might realistically aim to stop work and how much they need to save for retirement,” explained Vassos Vassou, a consultant with Towers Watson.

“For employees still in defined benefit schemes, this easy-to-use information about life expectancy can help illustrate for how long the pension might be paid out. This is an important message for employees in those schemes about their true value, so there is greater understanding when changes to it may need to be made.”

Life expectancy can vary significantly not only between different parts of the country but also between nearby streets, says Towers Watson. As such, the app has built in GPS functionality, which enables users to see how life expectancies vary across the areas they pass through, as well as between postal codes.

The app also includes information on factors that influence life expectancy—such as diet, income and smoking—to help users assess their effects on lifespan. The results from TW LifeTime can be posted on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

While some may be disturbed by the thought of estimating their own mortality and then sharing it with friends on social networks, Vassou says it’s not as eerie as it may seem.

“This app is both fun and educational—indeed, many people will be surprised by how long their life expectancy actually is, and some may live even longer,” he said. “It is also a step forward in the way our clients and the broader pension industry communicate with pension scheme members and the general public.”

For more on new media tools in the pension industry, watch for Benefits Canada’s new media issue, available June 2012.

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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