John Hancock incentivizes members with Vitality wellness program

By Laura Lovett
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In mid-September, life insurer John Hancock announced that it would be giving all of its members access to Vitality, a behavior changing rewards platform that is combined with a wearable. The idea is to incentivize policy holders to become more active and make healthier nutrition decisions. 

As part of this announcement all insurance policy holders will have access to the Vitality products. Members will have the ability to opt into two plans. The first is Vitality Go, which gives members access to fitness and nutrition resources and and personalized health goals, and gives users discounts at brand outlets when they reach their activity goals. The second, Vitality Plus, costs users $2 a month, and offers consumers incentives like costs savings of up to 15 percent on annual premiums for healthy habits. 

The impact

The major insurer cites the fact that lifestyle diseases are now the leading cause of death in the US as part of the reasoning behind its decision. As part of the new program, the payer will offer incentives and rewards to members who are hitting certain healthy goal milestones. 

In 2015 John Hancock began offered Vitality and reported that those members were taking twice as many steps as the average American and were engaging with the program on average more than once a day. 

"The remarkable results of our Vitality offering convinced us this is the only path forward for the industry," Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance, said in a statement. "We have smart phones, smart cars and smart homes. It's time for smart life insurance that meets the changing needs of consumers. 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."

The trend

In the last few years life insurance companies have become more interested in the wearable activity tracker space.

Earlier this week Kiwi company Performance Lab Technologies, which specializes in behavior-changing technology, announced that it was joining forces with Vivametrica, an activity-based health scoring and insurance underwriting company, to create a new platform called EngageRate. Similar to Vitality, the tool is aimed at engaging life insurance policy holders with their health by offering personalized artificial intelligence coaching and activity tracking. It also helps insurance companies track and validate their underwriting services. 

Additionally, Cardiogram, a smartwatch app that uses a deep neural network technology to detect hypertension and sleep apnea, made news in September when it announced that it was teaming up with life insurer Amica Life and Greenhouse Life Insurance Company to offer users $1,000 in accidental death insurance for free. As part of the deal, the insurers get a chance to look at users' data.

On the record

"For centuries, the insurance model has primarily provided financial protection for families after death, without enhancing the very quality it hinges on: life," Marianne Harrison, John Hancock president and CEO, said in a statement. "We fundamentally believe life insurers should care about how long and well their customers live. With this decision, we are proud to become the only US life insurance company to fully embrace behavioral-based wellness and leave the old way of doing business behind."