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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)
Anca C. Yallop (AUT Business School, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 10 December 2019

Issue publication date: 23 April 2020




In addition to data transforming the insurance sector from within, insurance consumers and their behaviour has transformed significantly over the past 20 years from traditional retail to, predominantly, online trading. Data are a fundamental part of how the sector operates, and the use of data in insurance is constantly evolving. This paper aims to explore consumer perceptions about digital privacy and their subsequent motivations to disclose personal data for insurance purposes.


The study uses an exploratory research approach based on in-depth interviews to generate metathemes to provide an understanding of consumer perceptions about digital privacy and data sharing in the insurance sector.


Consumers were extrinsically motivated to disclose data by financial reward and convenience; however, subsequent intrinsic motivations may be an influence on the initial motivations. Consumers perceived transactions as “fair” if they received the expected rewards, retained control of the data, and the data was not unilaterally used to their detriment. Concern for privacy was generally low, provided antecedent conditions were 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 future research in this area and is, therefore, not proposing to suggest strong conclusions and definitive answers.


This paper presents the first empirical research to examine data privacy issues in the UK insurance context. It contributes to knowledge in the areas of motivation, applied ethics and online consumer behaviour in general.



Blakesley, I.R. and Yallop, A.C. (2020), "What do you know about me? Digital privacy and online data sharing in the UK insurance sector", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 281-303.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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