Activity Tracker Like Iphone Or Apple Watch Now Mandatory For John Hancock Life Insurance

from 9To5 Mac

It will no longer be possible to buy a life insurance policy from John Hancock – one of the largest insurers in the US – without agreeing to use an activity tracker. This can be either a wearable device like an Apple Watch or Fitbit, or a smartphone capable of logging activity, like an iPhone.

The firm announced the change today for new policies, with existing policies also adopting the requirement from next year …

More here.

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38 Responses to Activity Tracker Like Iphone Or Apple Watch Now Mandatory For John Hancock Life Insurance

  1. Alexa Shello September 20, 2018 at 8:07 pm #

    The idea of linking fitness trackers with health insurance premium is a very modern and detailed view on how to create policy premiums, but I’m not sure it is the most accurate for fair. I currently work for an insurance company that just implemented an app for new policy holders to be able to track their driving, detect their speed, distractions, coming to a full stop, stopping too short, etc. And utilizing a fitness app would be very similar for health insurance companies to implement. However, as I have seen the implementation of the app for auto insurance policies, I have noticed there are a lot of problems with this type of data collecting. With auto policies, people are worried about “poor driving” impacting their premiums negatively, even if they have not been in any accidents or received any tickets. While the insurance company that I work for is only using the app to test it out and see if there is a correlation between driving information and risk, and it is not (yet) being used to impact premiums, driving is something that can also be controlled by the individual. This is very different than fitness apps, which track an individual person’s activity levels. While “activity” is technically something that people can control, there re many factors that aren’t taken into consideration. For example, the blog post mentioned different ratings for people who walk in a “sketchier” neighborhood than someone who walk in the middle of the day through a more upscale part of town. Personally, this seems to base activity risk on income level, and people who can’t afford to live in the nicer part of town, probably don’t walk there. Another example would be someone who works a full-time desk job to make ends meet is probably less likely to workout on a regular basis than someone who works from home or does not work at all. Therefore, rating a person’s insurance premium based on their activity level would not equate to fair premiums, even if they are more accurate. I would predict that people with lesser activity levels would eventually leave that company if there is a negative impact on the cost. Below I have posted a link to another article pertaining to people being denied healthcare plans because of their fitness tracker’s information. Other companies, including United Healthcare, have offered people the choice of whether or not to wear the fitness tracker, assuming that people who choose not to wear it would have similar rating factors. This all seems to be moving in the direction of more and more insurance companies offering this or forcing it upon their customers. As these devices become more and more high-tech, they could one day predict disease or illness in a person who shows no signs yet. This is even more disheartening to know that, although people could start to make treatments and preparations early, the insurance companies would also receive this data and who knows what they could do with that information.

    https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2017-02-17/could-fitbit-data-be-used-to-deny-health-insurance-coverage

  2. Sun Jae Lee September 20, 2018 at 11:25 pm #

    Recently, I have read an article about Internet third-party tracker that seemingly watch and follow everything the internet user does on their personal internet. Such an idea, I could not fathom on why multiple people would stalk an individual’s internet use. Now to my understanding, John Hancock, one of the largest insurers in the United States, are changing their life insurance policy so that their insurance users must wear an activity tracker. The company states that one can not buy the life insurance policy without the tracker which could be a wearable device such as a Fitbit, or an Iphone. I cannot comprehend why such a huge and financially strong company would switch their life insurance plan policy so that users have to wear activity trackers. I believe this is a serious invasion of human being’s right to customer’s privacy. John Hancock as a company is simply keeping a watchful eye over their insurance policy users. The insurance company is watching the buyer’s everymove, where the user goes to how the person’s health is. These activity trackers seem to be another way for this big company to stalk their customers, understand them and, in my opinion, their buying habit. In a way, John Hancock and its partner Vitality Group would use these trackers as statistics for their own use. This tracker policy is illogical and John Hancock should decimate this policy immediately. Moreover, what I find a hard to comprehend is that John Hancock is having a steady increase in the amount of users switching to this activity tracker life insurance policy. Many of these customers should understand that once these people start using the activity tracker, buyers have a set of watchful eyes on them. That these trackers are a serious offense against human privacy and should have never been implemented nor should have been bought by the customer. In my speculation over this life insurance policy, I strongly suggest many customers to, hopefully able to financially afford, switch to different insurance companies. It will keep one’s safety and privacy from anyone watching and nobody to know but oneself. In today’s age, numerous amounts of companies are having a vigilante eye on their customers and to what the activity the buyer is doing. It terrifies me that not just the government is able to watch over American citizens but a variety of company are able to have a keen eye over their customers.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/90230864/if-you-havent-already-switched-to-firefox-do-it-now?partner=feedburner&utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feedburner+fastcompany&utm_content=feedburner

  3. Michelle Vekshteyn September 21, 2018 at 12:03 am #

    This article stirred up many feelings of discomfort for me. I believe that people should still be entitled to their privacy, and not have something as essential as life insurance invade that. I do not understand the correlation between having to buy an Apple Watch or a Fitbit for a lot of money, in order to be able to pay even more money for a life insurance policy from John Hancock. Not to mention, the article states that this company is one of the largest in the United States. Not only is this creepy, but it is a complete invasion of privacy. In my opinion this world keeps getting more and more public; people cannot do something without it being heard of, seen, or tracked. Obviously the fact that technology has improved so much is an impressive feat in our society, but not a lot of people stop to think about how much is too much.
    A few months ago I was sitting in my best friends kitchen with her and her mom. We were talking about wanting to go get drinks from Starbucks. I started scrolling through Instagram and there was a Starbucks advertisement. I was a little weirded out, but I kept scrolling. My friend’s mom asked her to take out the trash after dinner, and on my Instagram feed appeared an advertisement for Hefty garbage bags. At that point I said something to her. This wasn’t a typical advertisement on YouTube of the shirt you just added to your cart on the Nordstrom website. This was a complete invasion of privacy that proved that iPhones listen in on conversations. The third time I purposely mentioned how I wanted queso from Moe’s, and of course that was the next advertisement that appeared. At that point I was really freaked out and realized that nothing said or done is private anymore.
    It really is mind-blowing that a life insurance company will go as far as tracking a person’s activity to see if they are putting their life at risk, and being able to deny them a life insurance policy over that. The article questions, “Will policyholders be penalized for walking through a sketchy area, logged by the GPS in their device? What about an activity tracker logging a strenuous hike as a risk factor? Or deciding that someone is cycling or skiing dangerously fast? This could be the beginning of an incredibly slippery slope.” All of these points are crazy to think about. People cannot even participate in an activity such as hiking without the insurance company saying “oh no that is such a risk factor, we cannot provide you with life insurance anymore if you do such risky things like hiking”. I feel as if this is definitely too much invasion of privacy. People should not be getting denied life insurance because they wanted to hike, ski, etc. I feel as if there are better approaches to this issue than to invade the private lives of customers.
    It is also very unfair that people’s activity such as the amount of steps that they take a day could be the deciding factor to the rates that the insurance company will charge them. Some people walk around all day, others sit in front of a computer screen all day. I don’t believe that this is an accurate way of deciding people’s insurance, and John Hancock should reevaluate this idea.

  4. Wilnir Louis September 21, 2018 at 8:55 am #

    John Hancock life insurance, a major global insurance company, decided that it would move into interactive life insurance. In this new policy, policyholders will have to wear a fitness device such as a Fitbit or an Apple Watch. They also said that this new requirement would happen to exist policies too.
    Personally, I do not see a huge issue with this on the surface. After reading the Reuters article that the 9to5Mac article references, a customer does not have to log their activities to be able to get the insurance. In addition, the customer does not need a device to log their activities, necessarily; they can just log it themselves on a website. Those two facts cleared up a big issue for me when I first initially read the article. I thought that every single customer would have to be active and log their activities in order to be covered with their life insurance. To know that a person is not required to be an active participant in this program to get insurance is great.
    As well, it is also great to know that there are incentives if you are a part of the program. I believe that getting gift cards or discounts on premiums for doing different goals is a great way to help motivate people to be more active and a great way to attack the obesity problem at its core.
    There are still some issues with this program, however. For one, these tracking devices are sometimes unreliable. They are able to tell you everything about yourself and sometimes data can be breached. It happened recently and it could happen again. As well, the devices or the program could get exploited. What if someone just had their active friend wear the device under their name so they can get free gift cards without doing a thing.
    Secondly, having an insurance company have a hold of this information could be dangerous for a consumer’s wallet. Complete details of this program are vague now, but the insurance company could possibly to jack up the prices for people who do not opt in the program. Also, the insurance company could raise prices for people who do things that are high risk. For example, if the company sees that someone hikes constantly or rides his or her bike on busy streets, or someone who is not active at all, they could raise their premiums based on those explanations. I hope this is not the case but it is still a possible outcome.
    In conclusion, I do see this program as a very helpful tool. I wish other companies would give rewards for physical activity because I do think that is a great way to get people moving. I’m ready to see what this program has to offer in 2019 when more details come out.

  5. MBB September 21, 2018 at 1:04 pm #

    The integration of mobile health tracking into the healthcare industry will be a revelation in how health care providers cover their consumers. This kind of integration will allow insurers to make sure that their consumers are low risk individuals and therefore make them the most money. By having access to a customer’s health data, they can tell whether a person is very active and healthy, or lazy and always sitting around. Most health trackers now also track heart rate, sleep and in the case of the new Apple Watch Series 4, electrocardiograms. However, all health trackers are not made equal, and all do not track the same stats. This will be great news for people who are normally healthy, but could cause potential danger for those who participate in high risk health behaviors
    This is good for consumers in a few ways. One way it will be good is by incentivising consumers who aren’t active, to become active. Obesity in America is a problem and getting people active and eating better, while also saving them money, is one of the ways that we can help get rid of the issue. Another way this will be good for consumers is that it will reward healthy people. This includes not only ones that exercise, as shown by health monitors, but also those who eat healthy. Meals could be entered into an app on a customers phone and sent to the insurer as further proof of their healthy, low risk lifestyle, which would lead to lower insurance premiums for them.
    However, there are still potential problems with this. For high risk consumers, getting a health insurance plan will be harder and more expensive. The fitness tracker itself is also an investment that the consumer has to make and if it only drives their premiums up further, then it is not worth it for them to do it. Another issue is that all health trackers do not track the same data. For example, the new Apple Watch is the only wearable that measures ECG’s and many smartphones can only track steps and location. That means no sleep, heart rate or other health data. How will insurers compensate for the different amount of data each tracker collects and can that hurt consumers by causing their premiums to go up?
    I feel like this is a step forward by insurance providers. As someone who is healthy and strives to make good decisions, I would love to be rewarded by my good decisions and save myself money that I can use towards other things.

  6. Alexander Fialkowsky September 21, 2018 at 1:43 pm #

    The fear of Big Brother has been hanging over the heads of society for almost as long as society has existed. An unknown group or force watching over and controlling us. It has become a more relevant and frightening issue in recent years due to massive leaps in technological innovation such as drones, satellites, security cameras, and even wearable technology. When I first saw the commercial for the new Apple Watch with an improved heart monitor and other health tracking features, my first thought was “Holy Crap! I am not buying one of those”. To me, the idea of having a piece of technology that allows Apple, and God knows whom else, to track my movement and heart rate at any given moment is horrifying. Human beings have rights that should be upheld however, if we willingly give up these rights in the form of a fashionable wristwatch, it is okay according to big businesses such as Apple. In regards to John Hancock Insurance implementing interactive life insurance policies, it seems that the good that would come out of this is vastly outweighed by the bad. At first, the company would likely hold off on penalizing people for small actions such as excessive drinking, or an unhealthy diet. But as time went on, if this policy becomes widely accepted, the insurance companies would have free reign over how much people’s lives are worth to them. To me, this is almost as scary as Apple tracking my heart as well as my every move. To know that the value of your life is being judged by people who see your every move would be quite unsettling. People would stop living life for the sake of living it, and start living for the welfare of their beneficiaries.
    The progress technology is making in society is incomparable to anything else in history. The benefits of our findings have improved society tenfold, but have also rendered us vulnerable to the higher powers who control said technology in the name of “National Security”. Individual rights are not things that can be bought, or exchanged for technology. People should be able to uphold their rights in any situation for the sake of humanity. If we submit our rights to a higher power in the name of safety, we are doing the most unsafe thing possible. The argument “if you have nothing to hide, you should not worry” does not work and will never work. Privacy is a virtue of society and must be retained in order for us to thrive.

  7. John Skalski September 21, 2018 at 3:26 pm #

    After reading this article, I found myself with two conclusions. The first conclusion that I made was I think that it is really smart for an insurance company to be taking advantage of the resources that we have in this day and age. John Hancock is going to be able to determine rates for customers based on the activity that they do during the day. From a company’s perspective, this is a very smart business move and could eventually allow them to make even more money and grow further as a company. According to the article, they could make money in many ways such as, saying that a person is not moving enough, they are too dangerous in how they work out, or anything of that nature. It should be very interesting to see how they determine if someone should have to pay more or even pay less for their insurance.
    This leads me to my next conclusion that I made where I believe that it could potentially become really unfair and bad for some people with this insurance. If John Hancock decides to determine rates for insurance based off what the tracking device may say, it could potentially get really bad. Some examples that the author said was if you walk down a bad alley, would they charge you for putting your life more at risk? Another could be if you go on a hike with a dangerous trail will they count that against you? Like I said from the business perspective this could be great for money, but I do not like the idea of having to pay for insurance based off what a device says. Sometimes the tracking device could be wrong and say that I did or did not do things that could affect my insurance rate. A personal example would be that I like to run outside a lot and I use a watch to track my distance, calories burned, and things like that. What if I get to a point where I am training really hard and my heart rate stays high for a longer time than usual, will I be charged extra for running harder than usual? Another example could be if I get injured from running and need to take time off and I am not running at the rate that I usually do, will I get charged more for doing that? I understand that nothing is set in stone yet for how John Hancock insurance will be charging or not charging people, but the examples that I stated need to be considered when people are thinking about using their insurance. John Hancock also needs to not be so critical on how they determine rates for people. As long as there is a happy medium then everything will be okay and this could work out great.

  8. Petar Micevski September 21, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

    Fortune 500 companies have a very creative way of inducing us to share our privacy with them. Companies today are so focused on their data collection and analytics that they are starting to become too involved in people’s personal life. They are doing so because technology permits it, and we as the consumers are shown the good parts of customization in technology. The sneaky way that big companies try to collect “extraneous” data on us is very clever. A prime example of this would be Apple. From iPhone 7 and up, Apple has incorporated a multitude of new technologies used to unlock your phone at a faster rate via fingerprint scanners and face ID. Where do you think that fingerprint goes when you scan it? Those types of unlocks are used to connect a face or finger to any and every phone. Unknowingly, you are sharing your personal data with the company by choosing to give away your fingerprints and face ID. This information is locked away securely in Apple’s database, but with the rise of technology and Artificial Intelligence, that data could be used in many ways unbeknownst to you. If Apple could put a face to their phone, and the internet could track your user data via session cookies, companies would practically know everything about your life. Personally, I choose to avoid scanners and face ID because the idea of a robot knowing personal information about me makes me get goosebumps.

    Another example of privacy issues comes up with John Hancock’s health insurance company requiring you to have an Apple Watch or Fitbit in order to receive extra rewards. This is yet another secretive tactic to collect data on the user. The collection of user data does not benefit the consumer. It is only a method used by the businesses (or in this case insurance companies) to specify and obtain better and more advanced data collection in order for them to maximize their efficiency and retained earnings. However, the cost of obtaining such information comes at the price of the consumer’s privacy. By attaching a Fitbit and monitoring your progress for extra rewards, the companies would know who is at risk for certain health deficiencies and who is risk-free. By implementing this reward system, they would be given the chance to charge customers that are of higher risk higher prices, similar to how people with lower credit scores get worse loans given to them with higher interest rates. Our generation already has enough privacy compromised with iPhones taking notes on our fingerprints, Google and Amazon taking notes on our algorithms, and Snapchat taking notes on our faces. Eventually, we must take a step back and realize that technology isn’t everything. While it is and will continue to stay a big part of our lives, we still have a say in the encryption of our undisclosed information. If we don’t fight for our privacy, companies would be able to have access to anything and everything about your life. When we fight for our privacy, we make websites ask for the activation of cookies before collecting data on us. When we fight for our privacy, we can spare an extra second to unlock our phones with numbers, not ourselves. When we fight for our privacy, we can stop insurance companies from showing them personal information about their statistic.

  9. Doug Tkac September 21, 2018 at 6:26 pm #

    After reading this article about how John Hancock requires every person under a life insurance policy to wear some type of fitness monitor while enrolled in the Vitality GO program, whether it be a FitBit or an Apple Watch, I might seem like I’m some type of creepy government agent, but I actually agree with what John Hancock is doing and requiring, and I think people might make (or are making) a bigger deal of what this is.

    Just by taking a look at the resources John Hancock utilizes with Vitality GO, you can see that this isn’t some type of quick and easy grab for data by the NSA. With this program, it provides so much information on how to live a healthy lifestyle, ranging from how a person might eat and exercise, to how often a person might need to receive a check-up from the doctor. Just by paying $2.00 a month, it can give you discounted premiums as well as a heavily discounted Apple Watch or FitBit (which, for the record, is definitely a deal that I love, as I love my Apple Watch even though I don’t love the price I paid for it).

    Why would anyone really despise this program? I see absolutely nothing wrong with John Hancock introducing this, as they are addressing three major problems in today’s United States: utilizing services for cheap, trying to curb the obesity epidemic, and adapting to the popular and new technology. There are so many other services out there that either cost too much or are barely utilized or having nothing to offer, as plenty of fitness services these days charge too much, whether it is online or in person. For $2, this program is a bargain for how much this program offers. This country really needs to start improving its health, so for John Hancock to implement this is something out of the ordinary, but in a good way.

    In terms of John Hancock potentially hiking rates for people who are not active and fail to utilize it, or believe that their fitness information will be sold to some third-party: suck it up. In today’s climate, health is being pushed more and more, so if someone wants so complain about a company (selling you life insurance, no less) pushing you to be as healthy as possible, then find a new provider for your life insurance. If someone is that worried about their health insurance getting leaked too, there is no reason to; the government probably already has your fingerprint from your IPhone, so what’s one more thing to release to the NSA?

  10. Cassandra Sibilski September 21, 2018 at 6:29 pm #

    While reading this article about making an activity tracker a mandatory part of John Hancock life insurance, I had mixed reactions to the idea. At first, I thought it was a good idea to make it a part of the the life insurance policies going forward I thought that it was a clever way to try to encourage people to become more fit and to exercise more if the the company was offering rewards, in the form of gift cards and things. And since John Hancock is such a large company, they could use this new policy to try to influence a lot of people’s health. So originally I thought this could be something positive to add to the policies. But then after considering this idea, I don’t really think this is a good idea from the customer’s perspective, but it would be beneficial for the insurance company. The insurance company would be using the information collected from the fitness tracker to be able to reconsider who they should or should not be offering life insurance policies to, and which customers they should raise the rates on, based on what kinds of “risks” they are engaging in. This is not fair for customers because their privacy would be being compromised and then used against them as a potential reason to not be insured, or to have to be made to pay a higher premium. That is not right, and doesn’t really seem to be an appropriate thing for the insurance companies to be using to determine a customer’s premium, or whether or not they should be offered life insurance at all. I think that if John Hancock life insurance follows through with this idea, they will ultimately lose a lot of customers who don’t want their day to day activities to be on display, and to be potentially influencing their insurance policies. And the customers that don’t leave the company, could potentially cause the company more issues over privacy disputes. Ultimately, John Hancock life insurance shouldn’t do this idea. It won’t end well for both their customers and the company itself, and will just cause problems for both parties over time.

  11. Amanda Nitting September 21, 2018 at 6:45 pm #

    During my senior year of high school, one of the required readings was a book entitled 1984 by George Orwell. As an overview, this book discusses how the world has undergone government surveillance known as “Big Brother.” With that being said, “Activity tracker like iPhone or Apple Watch now mandatory for John Hancock life insurance,” discusses how this specific life insurance will not grant a person life insurance unless they agree to an activity tracker. This activity tracker can be used with Apple Watches, Fitbits, and even iPhones. John Hancock is definitely taking advantage of technology, but they might be taking this a little too far. The article poses very important questions by stating “Will policyholders be penalized for walking through a sketchy area, logged by the GPS in their device? What about an activity tracker logging a strenuous hike as a risk factor? Or deciding that someone is cycling or skiing dangerously fast?” (Lovejoy). The idea of having a device to track fitness and health to reward policyholders seems very intrusive. By tracking this information John Hancock is incentivizing their customer’s to become healthier because they will get rewarded by having their premiums reduced.
    From a business perspective, it is understandable as to the reasons John Hancock is making the transition to utilize activity trackers. By doing this they decrease the chances of their customers attempting to cheat the system so they will not have to pay higher premiums. For example, when I discussed this concept with my parents, they were explaining that if a policyholder was a smoker that would mean an increase in the premiums that a person would be making. Furthermore, it seems that part of the reason John Hancock could be using activity trackers would be for a reduction in the claims they are paying to the beneficiaries. Activity trackers prevent that from happening because John Hancock would be allowed to monitor customer’s activities.
    Looking at this idea as a consumer, this seems a bit too intervening for me. Although John Hancock is saying that the policyholder has the ability to decide what they show to the life insurance that could negatively impact their premiums. Other life insurance companies have their policyholders take a blood test to prove they are telling the truth about their information. Technology is just getting more and more involved in everyday life which is a scary concept. Devices such as iPhones, Apple Watches, etc. already have so many functions that an average user does not understand. By allowing technology to intrude on other activities severely impedes on a person’s privacy. It can be debated that technology has already taken over everyone’s privacy due to hacking abilities, and censorship. The article addresses that South Africa and Britain are using this method as well, but it will be interesting to see what the United States does with this in the years to come. For now, some people will accept this idea since they might feel their privacy is already gone and it will not go back to the old way due to how fast technology is going.

  12. Abhi Sood September 21, 2018 at 7:52 pm #

    Following up on this article I had found that Fitbit announced it will expand its programming options outside of just selling to consumers. Employers and health plans can now purchase Fitbit Care for their employees and members. This service provides its wearables to members and offers a social network with fitness challenges and other games. And Apple also announced some new health features in its watch, including that it will be capable of taking an EKG of your heart. This is much more information than you would ever need to know on a daily basis, let alone anyone else. We’re also seeing a potentially alliance between insurers and tech companies. In the John Hancock program, if you pay an extra $2 per month, you get a free Fitbit or a $25 Apple Watch. You can also get a free subscription to the meditation app Headspace, hotel discounts, discounts for healthy foods, and others according to their website. The New York Times quotes that there’s also an incentive program wherein if you meet certain goals in a 24-month period you get the Apple Watch for free So tech companies have more motivation than ever to keep producing trackers with more and more invasive features despite the market for such consumables going down. So now that John Hancock has already exploited this use of consumer electronics, who would be next. And furthermore what are the negative features to such types of programs. The potential problem with all of these things is that an increasingly wide range of people and corporate companies that will have access to your most personal data. Data privacy, and the breaches and misuses that occur, is becoming a concern everywhere from social media networks to your smartphone. Giving your data to people who have a potential financial benefit in that data is a hazardous thing. The insurance companies can use this data to potentially weed out bad health-risk customers, and in return having to spend less money overall turning over an exceptional profit for themselves. Due to the fact that health insurance companies already charge less to their customers that are already in good health.

  13. Steven Gravlin September 21, 2018 at 8:13 pm #

    John Hancock using data about fitness is a really interesting twist on the use of big data. Today, every platform you use collects data on you; Facebook, Instagram, and twitter have access to just about everything you can imagine. Do you frequently use the “mypanera” app? Then you can expect a lot of Panera and other food advertisements to pop up. John Hancock is using data from fitness watches like Fitbit and Apple watches to determine rates and give special benefits to those who are healthy. This sets a precedent for other companies to use data like this too. For example, a drug company that sells blood thinners could use date collected from shop rite to charge patients who purchase unhealthy foods more than those who don’t. Car insurance companies could use data obtained from gps tracking devices like your phone or even your car to determine if some customers speed more than others so they can charge the speedier drivers higher rates. At first glance, it seems unfair for companies to track data like that so they can use it to charge some people higher rates than others. However, one can also argue that the current way of determining prices is unfair because people who treat their body well and exercise should get better life insurance policies than those who don’t exercise. This leads to an interesting debate. Personally, I find the way where they use data to determine the rate for you based on your actions to be a better way to determine pricing. However, I find it too creepy to ever be as widespread as I mentioned above. This John Hancock situation is an interesting start though so it’ll be worth watching to see if more companies start using this model of data usage to determine pricing and eligibility for certain products like life insurance.

  14. Brandon Ruiz September 21, 2018 at 8:16 pm #

    This article talks about the life insurance company John Hancock requiring their customers to join a fitness/health program called Vitality GO in order to obtain their life insurance coverage. The program includes “expert fitness and health resources” and as people reach certain milestones within the app they can earn rewards. These rewards range from getting discounts at major brand outlets to getting up to 15% off of their annual insurance premiums “for the everyday things they do to stay healthy, like exercising, eating well and getting regular checkups.” In order to track these health habits the company offers to provide apple watches for $25 or a complimentary Fitbit device to their customers. The problem with doing this is that if a life insurance company is given the power to track people’s health habits then they might also have the ability to prove an increased health risk to their life and subsequently hike their insurances rates. This would allow insurance companies to unfairly treat certain customers while cashing in on the profitable life insurance policies of certain other customers.
    Moreover, the insurance company could also possibly hike up the cost of an insurance policy due to a dangerous number of reasons since they are tracking you through the app. For example, they could possibly increase a person’s rates based on the fact that they go through a bad area on their daily morning commute. Without an app like Vitality GO an absurd reason like this to raise costs for certain people wouldn’t be possible. If you think about it, why would an insurance company give you free stuff like this if it wasn’t possible for them to profit more from it? The only way that they could possibly profit from this is through using the data collected by the Vitality GO app and using it to prove that people have increased health risks. By proving this they have the power to raise someone’s life insurance costs exponentially. Through making the use of this app a requirement for all of their customers John Hancock will now have the power to do this to all of its customers.
    In addition, by making the program a requirement for all their customers they are imposing an invasion of privacy upon its customers. I don’t know a single person who wants their every move to be tracked. However, the company is using the incentive of rewards in order to entice their customers to allow this absurd new requirement to their life insurance policies. This strategy allows John Hancock to “hoodwink” their consumers into giving their life insurance company the power to find more ways to increase their insurance costs. Use of the Vitality GO app is an unfair and unethical requirement for John Hancock to impose and I do not agree with it in any respect.

  15. Eyal Kleiman September 21, 2018 at 9:38 pm #

    This article brings up an interesting point about consumer privacy and data sharing. The article is talking about John Hancock Insurance starting these “interactive” life insurance policies in which customers sign up to be part of the “vitality” program which would allow them to earn rewards for sharing fitness data and completing fitness goals. At the same time, for those who do not meet the fitness requirements, penalties and fees may occur to the customers account. As someone who has worked in the hazard insurance department of an insurance company, I know that these tactics will be used to distinguish customers, as in, John Hancock will use this to separate their customers into two categories. Those customers who are on top of their exercising and who are the rewarded customers, and then those customers who continue to fail and can be targeted for fees and penalties. I saw this tactic of charging customers fees for things they may not even have been aware of. It is not something that is fun to do as a worker, but it is business and it does happen unfortunately. These companies are out to make money and they are looking for new ways to do so. Also, the article brings up an interesting point at the end talking about what will be determined or can be determined to be extraneous exercise or exercising to the point where someone may construed it as risky exercise. For instance, If one is biking through the woods at high rates of speed, it may pose a greater risk than the exercise requirements need, which may impact the customer negatively, and without them even knowing. It definitely will be interesting to see how this progresses in the future and if the idea actually sticks.

    • Eyal Kleiman September 21, 2018 at 9:47 pm #

      I would also like to add that like some others in the comments section are saying, auto insurance companies have come out with a tracker for vehicles which tracks all things that happen while driving, and if the driver is proven to be a safe driver, they are rewarded with a safe driver discount or a check bonus. However, these trackers track everything from speed, to distance traveled, to how hard you hit the brake pedal. For reasons like this, I will never participate in a system like this. Not because I am a bad driver, actually the opposite, I am a very good driver, but I do like to drive hard and drive fast. Very fast. So for me, having my insurance tracking my driving, would be detrimental to my insurance coverage. The same thing applies with John Hancocks’ system that they are implementing. Sometimes, I like to relax on the couch and not move for a day and just binge TV. If this is something that could penalize me, then I would never participate in a program like that. The rules of the program have to be clear and concise, which in both cases with auto insurers and life insurers is not the case. These programs have pages upon pages of convoluted lawyer language written up defining the program which makes for understanding what you are signing up for difficult.

  16. Danielle Blanco September 21, 2018 at 10:57 pm #

    The fact that John Hancock is now requiring customers to join the vitality program is evidence that society is pushing towards a new modern society by using the app and also that companies are pushing the initiative for enforcing healthy lifestyle In America. I admire that they have found a way to achieve these things. The fact that they have encouraged the healthy lifestyle such as the rewards program for excersising and eating healthy encourages people to change their lifestyle. However, the fact that an health insurance company has access to your health lifestyle could effect how they treat those customers. When companies have access to bad health information for customers they could raise their prices based on some health issues that could not be controlled. Also, since rewards are offered, many could cheat the system. Many have jobs that require hard labor and others have desk jobs. They both have different professions trying to make a living but one is being rewarded and getting benefits, even though one may be in better shape than the other. Having these rewards being offered could force people to travel into sketchy areas just to reach the rewards. However, policyholders should not be penalized for walking in that area. Some people live in those areas and that is out of their control. Tracking level activity could vary from person to person also. A workout could be more strenuous for someone than another person but one pen could not get rewards and be recorded as having low fitness. I believe that. Even though companies are trying to become more modern and trying find ways to have encourage healthy lifestyle, I believe that this policy has many flaws and factors that could alter the program. This has potential to be something good but I feel as though John Hancock could abuse the system by charging more for those who have bad health or people could abuse the system with the type of activities they do. If the policy were to change this could be a new movement.

  17. Peter Duca September 22, 2018 at 12:27 am #

    John Hancock insurance, one of the United State’s largest insurance companies, is now requiring its policy holders to join their “Vitality Program,” geared to promoting a healthy lifestyle. The company is offering rewards for policy holders who choose to share their fitness data through devices such as a Fitbit or an Apple Watch. The program allows policy holders to download an app on their device that provides expert fitness advice and allows users to create personalized health goals at no additional cost. As users achieve these goals, they can receive discounts at major brand outlets. They also allow users to join a “Vitality Plus” program for $2 extra per month. This program offers discounts of up to 15% on annual premiums to policy holders for performing activities related to promoting health and well being. This program was established in 2015, and use of this program is now available to all life insurance policies from John Hancock. While the program has some benefits for consumers, skeptics are worried that John Hancock will use the data to adjust rates for policy holders based on their participation in the program. Policy holders may seem less profitable to Hancock if they do not participate in the vitality program, and as a result their rates could increase. The law currently prohibits insurance companies from raising premiums if they cannot prove that the policy holder has an increased risk.

    This personally does not sit well with me. To me it seems discriminatory that companies will now use policy holders’ data against them to increase premiums if they feel that the consumer is not leading a healthy life by participating in the Vitality program. Insurance policies should not be adjusted based on data implications that a policy holder may have an increased risk of losing their life. The purpose of the program is to promote healthy living and encourage users to engage in physical activity; the purpose is NOT to penalize users for choosing to live the life they want to live. This policy may create a lot of controversy, and I believe that many arguments in court will arise from this new shift in Life Insurance. In the future, we may see regulations and rulings that better dictate the rights of policy holders and the Insurance companies. The Vitality program is quite revolutionary and will change how Life Insurance works today, whether it be increased regulations, invasion of privacy, or just a way to promote a healthy lifestyle while receiving discounts.

  18. Michael Martini September 24, 2018 at 9:58 am #

    After reading this new policy from John Hancock’s insurance policy, it is safe for me to say that the world we live in today has definitely taken a whole different outlook than it did in the past. From my perspective, it is both a good thing and a bad thing. The first thing that one may think off the bat is that this is simply nothing other than an invasion of privacy. Does anyone actually really need to track where you go, what you do, or monitor your body statistics? The answer is both yes and no. Sometimes privacy is necessary for some in order to prevent further issues from happening. If someone knows too much of your personal information, it can cause you to be targeted. Perhaps someone is looking specifically for you or trying to hurt you, then privacy is needed in order to stop this from occurring. Maybe there is no reason at all that you would like certain parts of your life to be private just because it is not anyone’s business. There are exceptions to this rule, however. John Hancock’s new policy can be understood by many because it is generally for the safety of a person. Safety is mainly the only exception that should be mandatory to invade someone’s privacy. The prime goal of his policy is for his company to be able to understand the health status of his customers. I believe that it is a good trade-off allowing people to purchase his insurance only if they are allowed to be monitored. It is for the benefit of the customers, from what the general public should be able to understand. However, policies like this could go too far. The main point is that we should allow a little room for people to know our business, but not let it get out of hand.

  19. Vincent A September 24, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

    This article, about John Hancock Life Insurance introducing the new “activity tracker” policy, made me feel somewhat uncomfortable. This can be argued both ways, though. If you’re looking at it from the company’s point of view you can try to justify this new policy, in that it benefits them, Hancock. From a consumer or client point of view, this could be very hard to wrap your head around. The first concern that comes to mind is the privacy factor. With this activity tracker Hancock can potentially receive a lot of information and data about an individual. With access to an individual’s exercising and eating habits, and regular check-up status, I would also raise questions, like the privacy and consumer advocates, about how Hancock is going to use this information in the future. I would fear that Hancock would target clients who are not living a healthy lifestyle in order to increase their rates and make more of a profit off them. To me, that just isn’t right.
    As stated in the article, “the insurance industry says that the law means it can only hike premiums if it can show an increased risk”. I think that John Hancock should review this policy as I don’t see how its fair to force an idea/policy like this onto their customers. The problem is that this is the direction that society is headed in. The use of technology will always be increasing, contributing to new, and controversial, ideas like this one, making some individuals in society feel as if their privacy is slowly disappearing. I don’t think I’m the only one who would feel uncomfortable with having an insurance company know vital information about me, and then potentially using it against me in order to charge me at a higher rate. Other insurance companies will probably adopt this idea as well if John Hancock prevails to be successful with it, which is very scary.

  20. Olivia I. September 25, 2018 at 11:13 am #

    Linking the use of fitness trackers to insurance is a smart idea to keep up with the age of technology. In this day and age, many people rely on fitness trackers in order to stay healthy and meet their fitness goals. I think this is an innovative solution to health insurance and an interesting method to set John Hancock apart. The article says that this idea was first introduced in 2015.The company had made plans like this optional at first, but in 2019, John Hancock’s “Vitality” plan will be put into effect. My perspective is that utilizing fitness trackers is an interesting new concept, however, I feel that it is not especially practical just yet. While many people own wearable fitness trackers, there is still a large number of people that do not own them. These people may not like the idea of feeling forced to get one of these devices and the company could lose business from them.
    While this is a modern idea that could help align people’s goals to those of health and achievement, there are also some disadvantages that may need to be worked out. The article claimed that those who didn’t adapt to John Hancock’s new law will have higher payments . This is unfair to those who either cannot pay for one of these devices or are disabled and cannot meet the goals on the fitness trackers. Offering incentives such as gift cards or rewards to people who meet these goals is a perk to people who can physically meet them but a frustration to those who cannot. I think John Hancock would be more successful either by postponing this plan until more people have wearable technology or by making this plan more inclusive to those without fitness trackers or are disabled.

  21. Amber Stile September 25, 2018 at 12:35 pm #

    The article by Ben Lovejoy discusses some crucial privacy concerns within life insurance. While offering clients more beneficial health advice and programs, rewarding those who provide specific fitness data is the start to a very risky privacy breach. A main concern with healthcare in the United States is the concept of pre-existing conditions. If a person is unaware that they had a pre-existing condition prior to a health tracking application notifying them of symptoms, they are subjected to higher premiums in this situation. The main goal of companies is profit and pleasing shareholders – if a life insurance distributor is able to see who needs insurance more, they can charge higher premiums for a higher profit. John Hancock isn’t mandating this switch to providing personal health data, but it’s rewarding those who do and manipulating them to give the corporation crucial data.

    The partnership with Vitality GO rewards individuals who connect to a Fitbit or Apple Watch, even supplying the devices, in order to track their habits and see who is healthier and who isn’t. As stated at the end of the article, if someone takes a particularly strenuous hike or overexerts themselves during exercise, there could potentially be a fee for risking their lives. The Apple Watch is able to tell consumers when they need to “take a breath” because their heart rate accelerates too high. If life insurance companies create a threshold of activity at a certain age and a client goes over that threshold, a fine is just another way to earn profit.

    Contrary to all of the negatives, however, an interactive policy could strongly benefit consumers. Insurance companies can better tailor a plan to you once they know activity level, resting heart rate, sleep patterns, location patterns. It’s all creepy to consider, but this data allows the world to be more personalized and relevant. Rather than one paying for a feature in a plan that doesn’t apply to them, they can create a plan with everything that relates to them and it’s more worth their money. This could create an opportunity for life insurance distributors to attract more clients through more relevant plans.

    There are pros and cons to every use of data, but I personally believe that despite all of the negatives, being able to learn what I can do to live a healthier life and extend it is worth the risk. These plans aren’t so outlandish because everything is moving towards more data collection and usage.

    • RJC-Rider September 28, 2018 at 11:20 am #

      Hi Amber,

      Just a minor detail, but your statement about preexisting conditions is false. Under the Affordable Care Act, established by the Obama administration, insurers cannot discriminate with insurance premiums for those with preexisting conditions with the exception of high risk behaviors like smoking. Insurers can also raise premiums slightly for the elderly, however, there are strict rules and regulations around this. Besides this minor detail, you raise some excellent points and food for thought.

  22. Abigail Johnson September 25, 2018 at 5:05 pm #

    Companies are all the time trying to find new and innovative ways to connect with their customers on a personal level, and watches and cell phones recording the amount of activity someone does on a daily basis is a huge breakthrough in technology. However, some people may feel that this is a new way to have your privacy invaded, however I feel that it can be very beneficial to those who simply want to keep track of the steps they take, or be able to keep track how many miles you ran in your workout. Also, a feature that is on the Apple Watch is a sensor that is inside the watch, and can detect your current heart rate. This can be particularly helpful to those who have to monitor their heart rate throughout the day, or helpful to people who want an easier way to check their heart rate during a workout.
    Being able to know exactly how many steps, miles, or flights of stairs you have climbed, can be very beneficial for people who are invested and dedicated to taking care of themselves, as well as seeking the convenience that comes with the fitness trackers such as a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or even the new Apple Health app. All of these only take the information when you give permission for the device to record movement, therefore your phone does not have to record how many steps you take if you do not want that. I think this is important for people to be aware of, as having the option will increase a person’s likelihood of participating and tracking their daily activities. However, if a life insurance policy requires people to have these specific devices, that has the tendency to make people hesitant about either getting this specific life insurance policy, or using the fitness trackers all together.

  23. Tyler Miller September 26, 2018 at 4:32 pm #

    Professor Shannon’s blog, “Activity Tracker Like iPhone or Apple Watch Now Mandatory for John Hancock Life Insurance” was shocking that a health insurance company would make it mandatory for them to have access to the user’s physical activity. The insurance company who ranks just outside the top 200 companies on the Fortune 500. The policy is states that anyone wanting to purchase health insurance coverage must use an activity tracker which include, the Apple Watch, Fitbit or other devices with the ability to log a user’s activity. The devices that are included under this new requirement are breath-taking pieces of technology that make a person wonder how they make such an advanced device in such a small space.
    With respect to that, I do not feel that these companies should be able to have access to this data and make it mandatory to have in order to be covered by this company. The point of having insurance is to have a fall-safe in the event that tragedies occur such as car accidents and personal injuries. Health insurance none the less is what helps shoulder the burden of medical fees that come with being in the hospital or going to yearly checks up with a primary doctor. In my view, it should be used on an as needed basis rather than tracking the physical drive a person has on a daily basis. In addition, the data that is collected from this can be used to lower or raise a customer’s insurance premiums depending on the quantity and quality of the exercise that consumer practices.

    http://fortune.com/fortune500/2003/john-hancock-financial-services-inc-208/

  24. Victor Prieto September 26, 2018 at 6:02 pm #

    I love what John Hancock is doing with their life insurance policies. The Vitality program geared towards a healthier lifestyle is a great way to motivate people to live a healthier lifestyle. It is a great idea to provide incentives, especially financial ones, to move people towards being more active. I personally enjoy working out and use an Apple Watch to track progress towards my personal goals. The fact that Vitality GO even provides fitness advice and other resources makes it easier for the public to be active and strive towards bigger goals. Providing discounts to major outlet stores is yet another incentive for people to use the app.
    The insurance industry states that the company can hike up premiums for walking through sketchy areas, and this raises a couple of questions for me: If someone is in poor physical condition, and is trying to start living a healthier lifestyle, the Apple Watch monitors the users’ heart rate and even gives advice on when to take a breath. The advice is given based on the users’ heart rate, so for someone participating in strenuous exercises that raise the heart rate number to “dangerous levels,” the information provided to the company could be misleading. It would be unfair for John Hancock to raise premiums at this point, as users are pushing themselves to levels outside of their comfort zone when working out. As long as this incentive is provided for the right reasons, it is a great initiative on the company’s behalf. Numerous times a week I’ll see a news article from credible sources such as Time, The New York Times amongst others, with an article discussing healthy lifestyle tips. The debates over vegan diets reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, moderate alcohol consumption being healthy or not are a constant topic in these articles. If a company is taking a step at trying to fix these rising obesity rates, heart disease statistics, etc., kudos to John Hancock for taking this initiative.

  25. Jessica Forsthoffer September 27, 2018 at 3:56 pm #

    This topic is very interesting in the modern beginnings of data mining and increased data sharing from users, this is not the first time I have read about insurance companies offering to utilize fitness trackers. Usually this is to encourage the purchase of a special add-on plan which offers benefits such as percent off their policy, or just the general improvement and tracking of their health. I particularly like the questions posed at the end of the article about the ethical implications of using this fitness tracker data to eventually find higher risk policy holders and charge them more or to find the most profitable. According to the article “the law means it can only hike premiums if it can show an increased risk”, but whose fault would it be if insurance companies eventually mine the tracker data to pinpoint higher risk policy holders? Technology companies who produce wearables have agreed that customers will own all data unless they otherwise agree to allow third parties to access and utilize data. Once they receive this information, it is theirs to utilize in any way they wish. For example, some companies are taking certain vitals and finding correlations between data and health outcomes, such as heart disease and depression, to potentially diagnose people with things they otherwise might not know they had. This is an appropriate use of the data as it is beneficial to the insured, as it could potentially identify a problem in its early stages. As for other types of insurances, data collected from wearables can be used for risk management, workers’ compensation cases, etc. In the case of claims assessments, certain wearables can provide to the insurance company what the wearer sees and hears which can assist in documenting damage to property or by collecting statements from the claimant or witnesses. For example, in one case, Fitbit data was called in as evidence to signify that there was a change in activity after a personal trainer was injured in a car crash, leaving the possibility for any type of data collected to be used in a personal injury lawsuit. In workers’ compensation cases, wearables could provide an idea of an employee’s whereabouts or where they have been driving which could be useful in a vehicle or workplace accident scene to identify what happened and whose fault it is. This could also be beneficial outside of the workplace for workers’ compensation to avoid fraudulent claims by monitoring an employee to be certain that they are injured to the point of not being able to work. This is a common scheme to steal money from insurance companies for accidents that did not actually occur. Although the idea of sharing activity data and possibly GPS location to an insurance provider may seem to be too omnipotent and invasive, there are many positives to sharing that information. I believe it can only help people in the future with claims and to identify health problems. If insurance companies do begin to mine the data to find the most profitable policy holders, that Is when it becomes unethical use of the information purely for their benefit.

    https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/05/06/367014.htm

  26. Liliya Molina September 28, 2018 at 10:31 am #

    John Hancock disaster protection, a noteworthy worldwide insurance organization, concluded that it would move into intelligent life coverage. In this new strategy, policyholders should wear a wellness gadget, for example, a Fitbit or Apple Watch etc.
    What’s more in it is the way that John Hancock is currently expecting clients to join the imperativeness program is proof that society is pushing towards another cutting-edge society by utilizing the application and furthermore that organizations are pushing the activity for upholding the sound way of life In America.
    It appears that the analysts and editors at Reuters are uninformed of how insurance functions: This innovation IS GUARANTEED to be utilized to choose the policyholders that are probably going to be the most beneficial and to raise the rates and additionally drop clients that might be less painful. This is positively not another worry about security or customer advocates. The Insurance business is focused on utilizing information to choose the most painful, least hazard clients. Snatching a client’s everyday wearable information will enable a backup plan to expand their benefits by rapidly expanding rates on policyholders whose “numbers” may propose a higher possibility of an insurance guarantee. It would be flighty for an insurance organization to not take these benefits to assist its investors. One won’t have the capacity to “vote with their feet”, as this major client methodology is drilled by actually every guarantor. Hancock is only marginally in front of its companions by following its policyholders by means of wearable – each other real safety net provider is attempting to execute this same procedure now. My doubts go much further. The plain reality that somebody will be observed by wellbeing wellness gadgets is probably going to imply that an organization requiring that is skimming off the most beneficial and protecting just them.

  27. RJC-Rider September 28, 2018 at 11:54 am #

    An important concept to discuss, in relation to any form of insurance, is what insurance companies really provide for their customers. Why do consumers want insurance? Whether it be life, car, or health insurance, consumers want to shift the risk of a catastrophically expensive event away from them and onto another party. People are naturally risk adverse and so insurance companies capitalize on this need by providing a service; this service is risk acceptance. In the case of life insurance, the insurer agrees to accept the risk of a consumer dying and then being financially responsible to support the family of the deceased based on the agreed upon terms of a contract. In return for this service, consumers pay a monthly premium.
    Now, the business of insurance is fraught with risk and unknowns. These are possibly very expensive for the company and so the company looks to mitigate the risk in any way possible, just like any other business would. Furthermore, in health and life insurance it is understood that preventative care is cheaper than emergency care. For example, if diabetes is diagnosed and treated before someone is hospitalized and loses a foot, a health insurer saves money. Similarly, if life insurers can incentives healthy behaviors and habits and disincentives high risk behaviors this would stand to save the company money while also making the consumer bet off.
    Additionally when we assess the morality of requiring life insurance consumers to monitor/ report health data (reporting is optional with this company) a concept that is very important to keep in mind is that life insurance is not a given right in the United States. If one does not agree to the terms of a service that is not essential, then the consumer simply does not make use of that service. For example, if you wanted ice cream but the ice cream parlor required you to do something you did not want to do, well then you can go get ice cream somewhere else or just even not get ice cream. If the policy of reporting that you are healthy bothers someone as a consumer or just having the access to healthy options like a nutritionist, then simply do not make use of the service.
    Lastly, the idea of hiking insurance premiums due to high risk behaviors is already a concept that is widely accepted and is part of a national law, The Affordable Care Act. Under this law, health insurance companies are permitted to increase premium rates for members that engage in high risk behaviors like smoking. Why should life insurers not be granted the same acceptance? If one starts skydiving or no rope rock climbing or even just being a couch potato (implying one is becoming morbidly obese), one is engaging in high risk behaviors. Those activities put one’s life in danger and one is more likely to die. If one is more likely to die, you are now voluntarily becoming a financial threat to a company. Personally, it does not seem that the company is asking too much of its consumers to try and stay healthy and avoid risky life threatening behaviors.

  28. David S September 28, 2018 at 9:51 pm #

    Linking insurance policy requirements to liabilities and risk is an inaccurate and manipulative approach to increase worker engagement for insurance. The main problem is that participation in the Vitality insurance program could put workers at a disadvantage that allows the insurance company to exploit them. Since each workers’ activity would be tracked through devices like Apple Watches using fitness related data, the insurance company would be able to make certain cases against the liabilities that employees may carry. The measurement of these liabilities is very questionable and does not always reflect a fair impact on the insurance rates. For example, if an employee walks through an area of town where there is typically constant crime that occurs that could make them susceptible to an an increase in their insurance charges. Insurance rates are typically set by permanent conditions such as home residence and health conditions rather than temporary conditions such as walking through a potentially risky location.
    Subjecting insurance policies to more specific scenarios would put workers at a disadvantage because they could make many excuses to raise insurance rates that are typical inaccessible to policy makers. This would be a major invasion of privacy. There is already a major issue in rights to privacy in the US, currently one of the least concerned countries regarding this issue. Although it is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, all American citizens have a right to privacy of their own information and this insurance strategy would be a great violation to that and lead to a slippery slope for the insurance industry as a whole.

  29. Carter Pichardo October 4, 2018 at 8:32 pm #

    The idea of sharing your fitness data with insurance companies may sound intriguing at first but can in fact be quite troublesome. These insurance companies could gain a significant amount of influence in how we live our day to day lives. If they are monitoring how you exercise and what you eat, who is to stop them from considering you to be more of a risk to them? Someone who isn’t focused on eating well and being in shape can be faced with unnecessarily high insurance policies. On the other hand, this can definitely benefit someone who is more health conscious. But, as most people should know by now, not everyone likes to be told what they can and cannot do when it does not pertain to following the law. People in the insurance industry have thwarted these claims but have not provided the public with reasonable assurance as to how ethical they will act if this kind of program starts to become more standardized in our country.
    We have already seen what can happen when major corporations such as Facebook collect and use our big data in their scandal with Cambridge Analytica. To provide with a concise summary, the two companies helped each other to influence the 2016 Presidential election. What they had accomplished was outlandishly enough not considered to be unlawful in the United States, only unethical. Several businesspersons throughout history have challenged the line between what is legal and what is ethical and I’m afraid to think that some insurance companies will toe that line.

    https://www.techrepublic.com/article/facebook-data-privacy-scandal-a-cheat-sheet/

  30. Zach Towlen October 8, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

    The new idea of insurance companies tracking fitness activities and goals of its policy holders is very modern and doesn’t seem to farfetched with the technology we are using today. The article weighs in on what John Hancock is doing with their plans and the track that they are on. I believe that there are two clear ends to this argument with not as clear of a middle, silver lining. Looking at the pros end of the spectrum first, it has multiple upsides and benefits. Allowing insurance companies to view data on you regarding your good eating habits and how you are exercising all of the time does not seem that big of a deal when you are getting rewarded for it. Good marketers within companies understand that people are driven through rewards. Just think about it, we should not have to look back at B.F. Skinner’s revolutionary experiments on how rewards drive humans to do things to understand it. If you were told to do something and you will receive a reward you’re going to do it. Now apply it to what John Hancock is doing for life insurance, if you are to one, share your data with them and two, show them you are eating healthy while exercising constantly, you are going to get lower rates and rewards. Who wouldn’t want that? From the company’s point of view, they are only going to see dollar signs once people recognize that they can earn something. From another point of view, it can be a motivator for people to start working out consistently. The reward system could benefit people in another way being that enrolling into this program will get them into shape.
    Looking at the cons side of the spectrum, this is going to be the argument for every data driven experiment that businesses are attempting, it is a huge invasion of privacy. People are not going to want companies to see where they are, what they are eating and how they are exercising. Companies like John Hancock could the in-turn, sell the data to companies for marketing purposes. If someone is consistently eating chicken for example, they could sell the data about you to Perdue, a large chicken company so they can give you advertisements. It is a huge network that data is creating among businesses and it is only growing each day.
    I do not believe that the issue of privacy is big enough to disregard these programs. The way that technology and the world seem to be headed only point into less privacy and ore data being available to companies. What John Hancock is doing is a great idea and the positives out way the negatives in my opinion. I believe that once the industry sees the capability to these programs every company will have one and it will expand over into other insurance companies such as car and health insurers. John Hancock should continue in their footsteps to redefining the insurance industry.

  31. Amari J October 17, 2018 at 7:23 pm #

    The idea of the government watching society has always made me uncomfortable and wonder if they actually are watching me through the lens of my computer as I do a paper or watch Netflix. But John Hancock is proof that the government and big corporations are watching whether it be through a lens or a device. John Hancock is the biggest insurance company in the United States. They have recently made a provision to their life insurance program that promotes people to get up and get healthy. But is the way they are doing it ethical? They are making joining the Vitality program mandatory. The Vitality program that is geared to encourage a healthy lifestyle, which is great in today’s society. But they are also collecting data from its customers which is an invasion of privacy. John Hancock is using what seems to be a healthy motivator to get its customers fit, as a way to keep watchful eye on the people they insure. These “activity trackers” have GPS systems embedded in them as well. This raises the questions about whether insurers will eventually use data to select its most profitable customer, while hiking rates for those who do not or show inconsistent participation. The insurance industry says that insurance companies may only hike premiums if it can show an increased risk, but that risk can be anything in an insurers eyes. Like, simply walking through a bad part of town or working out “too hard” as some devices will alert you. This tracker policy is unacceptable and unfair to its customers. The idea of trackers being connected to your insurance policy should be against the law and emitted from the Vitality program. If insurers were concerned about consumer health they could use their program as a discount to purchase a Fitbit or Apple watch on the consumers dime therefore ensuring the activity will not be tracked by them. John Hancock and other big companies are devious and can finagle the law to get away with doing unethical actions. They should be penalized for making this a mandatory program to receive life insurance.

  32. Allegra D October 22, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

    Health data can be very helpful to insurance companies while helping policy holders maintain a healthy lifestyle. John Hancock Life Insurance has initiated a program called Vitality which is a required program that that encourages healthy lifestyles. The program offers incentives to people who share their health data, but it is not mandatory to share their personal data. Fellow blogger Petar M brought up a great point dealing with privacy. The important question to ask is how John Hancock will use this fitness data. If someone shares their data and has low fitness activity, or if they are seen to do risky activities, could they raise the customers rates? Also, how does John Hancock evaluate individual activity to score points to earn these rewards? Are older people who have a harder time exercising able to reach enough points to earn rewards or is it a young persona game.
    I find this incentive program very helpful and innovative for this life insurance company. It is very smart of them to start this program because it coincides exactly with their company. Life insurance is all about predicting when it is likely that someone will die and how much money they will need to support their family members and pay for their funeral. Insurance holders who agree to share their data can receive many benefits, but could also face a risky situation with the data that they share. It would be smart for people who already maintain a healthy lifestyle to take advantage of this program, but not helpful for people who have health problems or difficulty exercising.
    It is a good thing that John Hancock Life Insurance does not mandate everyone to share their fitness data because if they did, then their business would lose a lot of customers. I also like that they give every policyholder access to the Vitality Go experience that gives an easy to use phone app. Their premium access is also very affordable at just $2 extra a month and gives customers extra benefits. This life insurance company seems like a great company to be with, but people should do more research and make sure their company is the right fit for them before joining solely based on their benefits.

  33. Nicole Faerber October 24, 2018 at 1:59 pm #

    As technology advances so does the concern for human health. With medicine and devices, doctors, diets, and more we have been able to extend the average life of humans. This can be considered a positive in many aspects but there is a downside to this. Insurance companies now need to be able to cover people for an extended period of time. The longer someone lives the more likely it is that they will need some kind of medical procedure. After all, it is the medicine and producers available now that are keeping people alive longer. For reasons like this health insurance companies want to avoid having to pay for all of the procedures. Insurance companies are not trying to do this. They are a business and their main goal is to make money. By people living longer and using their insurance for medical producers and medicine, it decreases their profit. The insurance companies want to find new ways to either keep profit where it is or even increase it. One way to decrease the number of procedures one might have is to increase how healthy one is. Not only has counting steps become a popular trend, but it is also now even becoming required for one health insurance company. John Hancock insurance now requires members to join the vitality program. I believe that this is great as it encourages people to become more active. The program also allows people to get a Fitbit, and or apple watch for a fraction of the cost that it would normally be in stores. This allows people to be aware of their movement and whether they need to increase it. I think that it is great to be offering rewards to those who share their data, as it gives an incentive for people to be healthy and get in all those steps.
    I also believe that there are negatives to this requirement though. I do worry that it would allow the insurance company to give higher premiums to those who are not using their fit bits. Even though at the moment it is not required that people share their fitness data, that does not mean it will be optional forever. I worry that people who share their data for the rewards at the moment will get penalized. Say that someone who shares their data loves to go adventuring. They go white water rafting, hiking, skiing, and etc. Will their rates go up because the insurance company now has their data and can prove that they are putting themselves in risky situations? Are insurance companies then invading the privacy of the people sharing their data? All of this seems to be more of a hassle than anything else. Since the insurance company is a business I believe that they are looking to increase profit. I believe that they will use the data that people share with them to increase their premiums. After a while, sharing data will become a requirement for all members so they can increase people’s premiums by proving people are putting their selves at risk using the data.

  34. W. Velazquez November 9, 2018 at 3:05 pm #

    Using fitness trackers to keep track of a person’s activity seems like a great way of incentivizing the policyholders to get active. John Hancock seems to be offering the option to share your data with them and if you do decide to share your data you become eligible for awards and incentives. The insurance business might be affected by this new interactive program requirement of John Hancock. Some consumers could be wowed by the incentives being offered to the members of the program and the company might see an increase in the number of people wanting to join in. Other consumers may be more hesitant with the new program and question its function within the company and move to a different insurance provider. Many people like to have the power to share what they want to share and if in the future the use of the activity trackers becomes mandatory, customers will not stand for it and leave.

    As consumers, you are only aware that the company is collecting your data, but you are not aware of how it is being used. The question is why do insurance companies want to be able to track your activity? Do they want it for research purposes or to hike up the premiums on consumers that they feel show an increased risk? Sharing your data is optional but if it is optional why is it even an option. Companies are evolving and the use of technology is becoming greater. Should consumers be concerned that companies want to know more about our daily lives, is this another big brother situation?

  35. Yash Wagle November 30, 2018 at 7:15 pm #

    The idea that a life insurance company is tracking your movement through a wearable technology is definitely concerning. Yet, as technology continues to grow (especially wearable technology), I believe that the steps that John Hancock Insurance company are taking will begin to be the norm. The desire for insurance companies as a whole, to monitor policyholder data is not that new. Car insurance companies like Allstate, Triple A, and Progressive have offered discounts for their policyholders if they installed a monitoring device in your car. This monitoring device would be used by the insurance companies to decide whether or not you’re a good driver. Just like John Hancock tracking their policyholder’s physical movement, these monitoring devices in cars is at the moment optional. Yet, in both cases it is the belief that these devices will be a mandatory requirement to monitor policyholder’s is what’s concerning. By making monitoring mandatory as opposed to optional, insurance companies can hike insurance premiums up instead of just declining healthy/active lifestyle discount or a safe driver discount.
    In a Verge article CEO of John Hancock Insurance, Brooks Tingle, made a very interesting point regarding this monitoring of policyholder data. Tingle said “The additional data elements we’re talking about is pretty small and inconsequential compared to the data we already have” What Tingle is referring to here is the fact that insurance companies are already allowed the access to medical files and doctors notes. In fact the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which is the piece of legislation put in place to insure privacy of people medical data, actually gives insurance companies’ legal access to our health information. Still, the fact that insurance companies are incentivizing their policy holders to share their fitness data via wearables shows that that there must be at least some benefit for them to hold this information.
    I believe that insurance companies having access to our fitness trackers is dangerous. The primary reason for this is examined in the 9T05Mac article. We as policyholders simply do not have the ability to understand how our data is going to be used, and how it is going to affect us. The article states “Will policyholders be penalized for walking through a sketchy area, logged by the GPS in their device?” I believe this is a legitimate question. Fitness trackers technology growing, and are even able to find information like location. This example only goes to show insurance companies can be crafty with our data an analyze it a way that could be favorable to them.
    I believe that if life insurance really cared about our health they would subsidize fitness trackers, and give them to us with the assurance that they will not collect the data. I think that this situation would still be a win-win for both sides. Fitness trackers in my opinion do give people incentives to be healthy as they personalize goals for us, but sacrificing our health data should not be needed.

  36. Robert Musantry December 7, 2018 at 5:06 pm #

    John Hancock’s newest rule regarding their life insurance policies is that customers must join the new Vitality program in order to gain life insurance. Now what does this mean? The basic level of the program, called Vitality GO, will provide customers with personalized health information and goals. As customers reach those goals, they will win rewards, often discounts at brands that partnered with the program. The next level, Vitality PLUS, is similar but has even more discounts. PLUS level customers can even get an Apple Watch for just $25 or a free Fitbit. These deals are to help customers keep track of their health and be rewarded for it, or at least that is what John Hancock is saying. But is there something more? Of course there is.
    First off, when people officially opt in to the program, they are sharing all their health data with the Hancock company. Currently, laws prevent insurance companies from hiking rates unless they can prove there is some sort of increased risk. But with the ability to collect all sorts of personal data at a moments notice, what they can consider a risk will really be up to them. This is scary, because suddenly regular activities that these customers do could make their premiums more costly, and they have no way of stopping it.
    Another potential issue is that since the company knows exactly who is providing data and who isn’t, they could increase prices for the nonusers until they force them to opt in and give up private data, which seems like an apocalyptic situation to me.
    All of these problems will be explained away by the insurance industry as just a few negatives that are outweighed by the numerous health benefits and free giveaways that come with the program. It seems, to me at least, that in the very near future most of us will be giving up personal data in some way in order to earn some sort of commercial benefit, possibly without even knowing.

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