John Hancock, one of the largest life insurance providers in North America, will no longer offer policies that do not include digital fitness tracking.
Interactive policies collect health data through wearable devices, such as a smartwatch, which track individuals’ movements and can be used to log dietary choices. John Hancock launched its first interactive policy in 2015 and will now apply the model across all its policies.
As part of the scheme, policy holders can earn discounts and rewards such as gift cards for hitting exercise targets. John Hancock has said that policy holders do not have to log their activities to qualify for coverage but they would not benefit from discounts if they chose not to. Critics however have raised concerns that the new technology could be an invasion of privacy with insurers using tracking data to punish those who do not meet fitness targets although John Hancock say the system is regulated.
Could other insurance providers follow John Hancock’s lead so that such interactive policies become normalised? Is there a danger that smartwatches could be collecting more data than they purport to be and if so, how might regulators have to adapt? Is this a way to incentivise healthy living or punish those who struggle to or can’t lead healthy lives?