First, insurance companies gave us black boxes to put in our cars so they could track our driving, in exchange for discounts when we refrain from speeding. Now, they’re coming for our bodies.
The New York Times reports that John Hancock will be the first life insurance company that will offer discounts to Americans who agree to wear an activity tracker:
People who sign up will receive a free Fitbit monitor, which can be set to automatically upload activity levels to the insurer. The most active customers may earn a discount of up to 15 percent on their premiums, in addition to Amazon gift cards, half-price stays at Hyatt hotels and other perks.
Traditionally, life insurance companies have set their rates based on a customer’s medical history and age, among other factors. But with the advent of fitness trackers, they can set rates in real-time, drawing on data about their customers’ lifestyles. Andrew Thomas, a 51-year-old South African who has been sharing his activity with his insurer for years now, including his cholesterol level and exercise habits, tells the Times he gets “points” for good behavior, which translates into money back on his premiums. “Every Saturday morning, just for playing golf, I get points,” he told the Times. (He would probably get more points for a sport that requires serious exercise. For the sake of his premiums, let’s hope he walks the course instead of driving a cart.)