CNET published a really handy list of emerging wearable technology in August 2014. The list includes smartwatches, health monitors, pedometers and activity trackers and articulates what they all do and also the approximate price range for these handy bits of kit.
What is it?
Wearable technology promises to change the way in which we exercise and communicate activity completed. Being an avid cyclist and habitual user of the fitness app Strava I believe that most users share their successes on-line to get bragging rights on how powerful they were in their morning ride. I also know that using this sort of app allows you to look back at the progress made in terms of fitness.
What could this possibly have to do with insurance?
According to Gen Re – quite a (fit)bit. Wearable technology devices such as the FitBit used in conjunction with PruProtect’s and AIA’s has become so successful that they use Lord Sebastian Coe as the face of the program and also are sponsoring Barclays Premier League matches in England.
As part of the reward program they have partnered with some really strong brands such as Virgin Active, Polar, National Trust and WeightWatchers. The program is based on a points system that is tracked from the wearable device that offers members discounts and credits as a reward for being fit and active. The devices automatically upload data to the Web where they may be analysed or shared on social media or manufacturer platforms.
Quite simply – the idea is that the healthier you are – the lower premium you will be charged for your insurance.
A recent engagement study in an incentive-based wellness program, offered by a health insurer, found that there was a strong correlation with lower healthcare costs. Members that were more engaged received lower costs, lesser admissions to hospital and faster recovery times compared with other groups.
The downside for the insurance company is that they have to rely upon the good faith of a policyholder to generate fitness data personally and not to pass a motion-sensitive wearable device to a friend in marathon training.
At present there is little clarity about how big data could be effectively used within the life insurance industry; however, we may be missing the point altogether as many customers may be attracted by the very idea of a fit-for-life health programme and the more tangible rewards attractive.