How wearable technology can impact your life insurance
Wearable devices have steadily become commonplace accessories thanks to their dependability and versatility. Watches and wristbands by Garmin, Fitbit, Polar and Apple are perhaps the best examples of these innovative products and have specifically presented great opportunities to health- and fitness-conscious individuals.
Gym-goers and outdoor enthusiasts use wearable technology as a means to track physical activity including steps taken and climbed, as well as metrics like heart rate, blood pressure, calories burned, and hours slept. Wearables are ideal for people who are looking to start or maintain a diet or exercise regime, and the ingenuity, availability and convenience of this technology will certainly incentivise those people to do so. But these devices have now, in certain parts of the world, started to impact something else pertaining to people’s health, and that is their life insurance.
In September 2018, American insurance company John Hancock announced that it would be incorporating its own rewards program into all of its life insurance policies. This is a means of motivating its clients to adopt a healthier lifestyle, rewarding them with points for activities such as exercising, going for regular health screenings, and buying nutritional food products.
But how could an insurance company manage to collect data such as this? Well, that’s where wearable technology comes in. With devices by brands such as Fitbit and Apple, customers must thoroughly track their physical activity and then share the resultant data, along with any other health-related information, with the insurance provider. Points are awarded on the basis of this information.
What makes this program especially beneficial, and all the more enticing, is that an accrual of sufficient points will eventually result in a reduced life insurance premium. In effect, wearing a Fitbit or Apple Watch to the gym could be a step towards reducing the cost of one’s life insurance.
John Hancock is not the only company to have implemented a policy involving the use of wearable technology. AIA, an insurance group operating within the Asia-Pacific region, has its own rewards program, while UnitedHealthcare, another US-based insurance provider, offers UnitedHealthcare Motion, which encourages customers to monitor their steps in order to achieve financial rewards.
Policies such as these are sure to entice prospective policyholders who are in the habit of maintaining and monitoring a healthy lifestyle. Clients without wearable devices might very well be tempted to purchase their own in order to take advantage of these various offers.
That being said, one can easily assume that an overwhelming number of runners, gym members and health-fund is already own a piece of wearable technology or will do so in the near future. In a Forbes article written in mid-2017, Paul Lamkin noted how the wearable technology market would see shipments rise from 125.5 million wearable devices in that year to 240.1 million in 2021.
Lamkin also states that, while the market has seen the production of items such as belts, shoes and shirts, this surge will be due mainly to the sale of its most popular products: wristbands and watches. It’s understandable, given how these already ubiquitous devices already are so multifunctional as well as wearable in almost any situation.
This convenience has already kept people carefully monitoring and improving their fitness. The new policies implemented by companies such as John Hancock, United Healthcare and AIA have certainly augmented their comfort by encouraging such commitment through financial incentive. One can imagine, hopefully in the near future, that the insurance industry as a whole will have taken advantage of innovation made in the technological sphere and offered security to a great many people.