In the past we have seen how some insurance companies have actually encouraged their customers to use devices like the Apple Watch or Fitbit fitness trackers. They even offered customers incentives for meeting certain health/fitness goals.
Update: multiple previous report stated that the tracking was required. Since then, they have been retracted and we have updated our article to reflect that.
In a report from Reuters, John Hancock was said to have announced that customers who wish to buy a life insurance policy will only be able to do so if they agree to use an activity tracker. However, the company contacted Ubergizmo directly to inform us that it was not the case.
Activity tracking is completely optional and doesn’t necessarily have to be a smartwatch or a fitness tracker, as long as it is capable of logging their activity, like a smartphone such as the iPhone.
Prior to this, John Hancock was one of the companies that tried to incentivize its customers into adopting such devices by offering it at an extremely low price. While we understand where the company is coming from, at the same time we can also see why some privacy and consumer advocates might be worried about the use of health data.
As it stands, the law only says that insurance companies are allowed to increase premiums if the person shows increased risk, but some are questioning how far does this “risk” go? For example if the activity tracker shows the user doing something dangerous like an extreme sport, does that count as a risk factor? Either way it is no doubt a controversial approach but we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.