American life insurance provider John Hancock will no longer provide policies which do not include the use of digital fitness trackers. New policies are being immediately updated to include the necessity for lifestyle tracking using devices such as fitness tracking enabled smart watches or mobile phones.
Activity-tracking devices will be used to monitor policyholders’ movements, offering rewards such as gift cards to encourage reaching exercise targets. The devices can be used to record how much someone exercises and the intensity, as well as logging food intake to record dietary choices and monitor other lifestyle factors such as sleeping patterns.
Over 91% of Americans are covered by health insurance
Partner group Vitality, already well-established in the UK and South Africa, has been encouraging fitness using tracking technology since 2005. They offer discounted rates on fitness trackers and gym memberships in agreement that the holder will participate in lifestyle changes to meet fitness goals.
The insurance industry is big business, with the total net premiums written amounting to $1.2 trillion last year. Over 91% of Americans are covered by health insurance, largely due to the lack of free healthcare in the country.
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This announcement comes just a week after Apple released details of their new Apple Watch Series 4. Improved tracking instruments have been included in the latest release, with fall detection and emergency SOS, features especially directed towards the elderly and infirm. This will be of particular interest to insurance companies as it will reduce risk factors and increase the likelihood of fast-acting care. The Apple Watch, like many other wearable smart devices, can also track your heart rate and alert of any unusual high or low periods.
70.2% of US adults were found to be overweight or obese
However, the use of this sort of technology for insurance purposes raises issues regarding security and privacy. Limits relating to the amount of data collected and stored by insurance providers will be under scrutiny, with new guidelines needing to be established by regulatory bodies like the Financial Conducts Authority, who operate in the UK, or the US Securities and Exchange Commission in America.
The USA is the leader in unhealthy living. In a study by the NCHS, 70.2% of US adults were found to be overweight or obese. Therefore, John Hancock are looking to improve the health of their clients by incentivising the use of smart technologies.
Concerns relating to the punishment of those who do not meet exercise goals are also present. Many are questioning that because incentives are made to meet targets, equally punishments will be given for those who consistently fall short of goals.
Although the use of fitness trackers is not a necessity in taking out a policy with John Hancock, the benefits offered will incentivise many to include the use of these technologies in their everyday life. Early studies claim that Vitality customers may live 13 to 21 years longer than the rest of the insured population.
This is the future of technology, and just one more way in which wearable technologies are becoming more incorporated into our lives. This may be just the start of a revolution for different industries talking advantage of these new and constantly improving devices.
Apple products, such as the iPhone and the Apple watch can be used to track fitness, and can improve productivity by ensuring staff are contactable when away from their desk. Emails and phone calls can be managed directly from the Apple watch with the introduction of cellular in the Series 4. SeaBro IT can provide Apple products to your business, as well as providing management specifically for mobiles in the workplace. Get in touch to find out how we can help improve productivity within your business.