Wearables are selling fast. Research firm Gartner released
a forecast that 274.6 million wearable electronics will be sold in 2016, an 18.4% increase from the 232 million units moved in 2015. This explosive adoption has prompted the likes of Manulife Financial, in cooperation with Vitality Group, introduce a policy that encourages customers to wear a fitness device that tracks their physical activity, and in exchange gives discounts on their premiums and rewards at retail partners.
Behavioural modification is very much on the insurance agenda as wearable devices capture the public’s attention. Up from 30.32% in 2015, smartwatches will compose 50.4% of wearable technology sold in 2016. Gartner attributed this increase to the Apple effect – or the desirability of the Apple Watch.
Marianne Harrison, president and CEO of Manulife Canada, described the program as “revolutionary” and a “new perspective” in Canadian insurance, as it helps consumers to live active and healthy lives. The program has different levels according to the capabilities and level of commitment of the consumer.
A similar promotion was implemented in the US by John Hancock, a Manulife subsidiary. Each policy holder wore a Fitbit, and yielded average premium discounts between 7–15%. Manulife Canada, however, has yet to finalize what brand of fitness tracking device would be used.
Harrison added that it’s not just physical activity that will earn points for consumers. They can also accumulate points by reporting that they got an annual physical checkup or got a flu shot.