Want Cheaper Life Insurance? Get an Apple Watch

A 15 minute workout could help your wallet.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers: we buy them to log our workouts and force ourselves to go the gym. Or maybe we just think it’s cool having a tiny computer on our wrist. Now there’s a new reason to wear one—to save money on life insurance. Starting in October, John Hancock Life Insurance will use fitness data to reward customers with healthy habits, such as “exercising, eating well, and getting regular checkups,” the company said in a press release.

The rewards you get are based on the program you choose:

  • Vitality Go is available at no additional cost and provides discounts with brands like REI, Amazon, and Fitbit.
  • Vitality Plus is available for as little as $2 per month. It offers substantially more benefits that include up to 15 percent savings on annual premiums, a free Fitbit Alta (or the option to buy an Apple Watch Series 3 GPS for $25), and even a one-year subscription to Amazon Prime.

Both options provide an app to track your health and fitness data. But with Vitality Plus, there’s a catch: you’ll have to share your data with John Hancock. You’ll also have to exercise, eat well, and get regular medical checkups. If you don’t, you could lose your premium discounts, and if you buy the discounted Apple Watch, you could end up paying full price for it.

With these incentives, John Hancock hopes to encourage you to live a longer, healthier life. How much longer and healthier? In a report by consulting firm FSG, Vitality members were found to “generate up to 30 percent lower hospitalization costs and live 13-21 years longer than the rest of the insured population.”

“Vitality members were found to “generate up to 30 percent lower hospitalization costs and live 13-21 years longer than the rest of the insured population.”

Of course, healthier customers mean lower risk and greater rewards for John Hancock. If fewer customers die prematurely, that means they continue paying for life insurance. And while the company generates more revenue, customers enjoy the added benefit of living longer lives.

“The remarkable results of our Vitality offering convinced us this is the only path forward for the industry,” says Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock. “We believe offering Vitality on all life insurance policies, at no additional cost, is the right thing to do for our customers, our business, and society. We believe this is the future of our industry, and I encourage other insurance companies to follow suit.”

Other health insurance companies have used technology to incentivize healthy living, but John Hancock is now exclusively selling this type of interactive policy for life insurance.

Will this shift affect the rest of the insurance world? Maybe. Life Insurers can already charge more based on tobacco use and weight. That same logic could eventually be used to reduce premiums for active customers while charging more for those with a sedentary lifestyle. The insurance industry, however, is heavily regulated, so if it does happen, it may take a while.

Until then, it can’t hurt to get some steps in, even if you’re not getting a discount.

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