If you’re looking to buy a life insurance policy from U.S. insurance giant John Hancock you’ll be required to agree to wear an activity tracker like an Apple Watch or Fitbit, or an activity logging smartphone like the iPhone, before the company will insure you.
The insurer announced the change for new policies this week. Existing policy holders will begin facing the same requirement beginning next year.
Reuters reports John Hancock made the decision three years after first making ‘interactive’ policies an option.
The move by the 156-year-old insurer, owned by Canada’s Manulife, marks a major shift for the company, which unveiled its first interactive life insurance policy in 2015. It is now applying the model across all of its life coverage.
Interactive life insurance, pioneered by John Hancock’s partner the Vitality Group, is already well-established in South Africa and Britain and is becoming more widespread in the United States […]
The insurer will begin converting existing life insurance policies to Vitality in 2019.
Up till now, the firm has enticed policy holders to wear activity trackers by awarding them premium discounts for users that hit exercise targets, as well as gift cards for stores and other enticements for logging their workouts and food purchases in an app.
Privacy and consumer advocates are rightly concerned about the possibility that insurers may eventually use data from activity tracking apps and devices to select only the most profitable customers (those who have a healthy lifestyle), while hiking insurance rates for customers who don’t participate in the program.
However, the insurance industry insists that it is heavily regulated and must justify its reasons for any rate increases or policy changes.