More and more people are utilizing activity-tracking devices to keep tabs on their fitness levels and log their dietary choices.
Building off of this trend, North American health insurance company John Hancock will now only offer and sell “interactive” health policies, says BBC News. These policies will collect data on customers’ health via smart wearable technology, including smart watches and fitbits.
Policy holders who enroll in these policies will have the opportunity to earn discounts and rewards for hitting exercise goals, such as an Apple Watch.
The idea of interactive health and life insurance policies was popularized by the insurance brand Vitality, an international partner of John Hancock. Vitality told BBC News that based on collected data, its policyholders lived between 13 and 21 years longer than “the rest of the insured population.” John Hancock launched its first interactive policy in 2015, and is now applying that model to all of its policies.
How much is too much interaction?
While the insurance company’s policy changes are supposed to incentivize customers to enroll, critics have said that new plans are “creepy” and “dystopian,” BBC News reports. For example, “privacy advocates have warned that insurers could use tracking data to punish customers who fail to meet targets.”
Matt Stoller, fellow at the Open Markets Institute, said told BBC News that these policies would “combine insurance with fat-shaming.”
However, BBC News says that the insurance industry is “tightly regulated,” and has to justify any sort of rate increases and policy changes for customers. John Hancock said that enrolled customers are not required to log their activities to qualify for coverage, but, “they would not benefit from discounts if they chose not to.”
It’s also unclear if John Hancock is benefitting from its new policies. “The company told Reuters it was too early to say whether it was paying fewer claims because of the Vitality program.” As a result, other insurance companies and decision makers looking to implement a similar program will have to wait for more data to be released to evaluate if these changes are worth it.