156-year old insurer John Hancock now requires customers to use health wearables

In a controversial move, John Hancock will now require all policyholders to track their health with wearables.

John Hancock, a life insurance company that was founded during the Civil War, announced yesterday that it will require all policyholders to record fitness and health data using wearable devices.

A new lease on life

Hancock has offered “interactive policies” since 2015, offering discounts for healthy behaviors such as exercising or buying healthy foods — saving itself money by paying out fewer claims.

To run the new program, Hancock partnered with Vitality Group, a platform that already operates widely in South Africa and the UK. Vitality claims policyholders using wearables live 13 to 21 years longer than “normally” insured couch potatoes.

As other insurers roll out wearable discounts, critics warn that wearable incentives could disadvantage some people — like anyone with an existing condition or anyone without an Apple Watch.

But Apple is excited about health — and healthy profit margins

John Hancock offers financing for health wearables — incentivizing companies like Apple and Fitbit to ramp up production to capitalize on insurance’s data-driven future.

Last week, Apple rolled out a new Watch with an EKG designed to offer new health-monitoring options — and just yesterday morning, Fitbit launched a program called Fitbit Care that provides medical coaching that integrates with doctors and insurers.

So now more than ever, the wearables industry is really one to Watch: Forecasters expect the market for wearables to increase to $25B by next year, thanks in part to increased demand driven by insurers.

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