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article imageInsurer John Hancock adds fitness trackers to its policies

By Tim Sandle     Sep 22, 2018 in Business
John Hancock, which is a major provider of life insurance in the U.S., has added the requirement that those taking out interactive insurance must wear fitness tracking to all policies.
From September 2018, insurance firm John Hancock will only sell "interactive" insurance policies that collect health data via wearable devices such as a smartwatch or a Fitbit style device. By doing so, policy holders will be able to earn discounts and rewards, like gift cards in return to hitting exercise targets that are considered appropriate to the age of the person who has taken out the insurance.
John Hancock Financial is owned by Canadian company Manulife Financial Corporation, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. The company's president and CEO is Marianne Harrison.
In terms of how the new schemes will work, Engadget reports on the two tiers of insurance on offer. The first is the basic Vitality GO scheme. This offers fitness and nutrition advice and resources. Through these, as people hit goals and milestones they will be rewarded through discounts at "major outlets."
The second tier is called Vitality PLUS. For policy holders enrolled in this scheme, which costs an extra $2 per month, people can be awarded up to a 15 percent discount on premiums. Furthermore, insurance customers can earn a $25 Apple Watch or free Fitbit plus rewards for exercising, eating healthy and getting regular check ups.
Although tracking is optional, the change in direction with regard to insurance policies has not gone down well in some quarters with privacy advocates warning that insurers could use tracking data to punish customers who fail to meet targets. For instance, Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute, said in conversation with the BBC: "Naturally the American dystopian surveillance state will combine insurance with fat-shaming. Welcome to hell."
A spokesperson for Manulife told CBC news there is no update about a similar policy for Canadian insurance customers.
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