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Some Life Insurers Jumping On Wearables

As wearable technology continues to develop, some life insurers have begun to incorporate it into their policies, a review of rate filings shows.

One example is French insurer AXA. Two of its units — AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co. and MONY Life Insurance Co. of America — mention a Wellness Incentive Benefit Endorsement in form filings submitted to regulators. Under the endorsement, policyholders are able to receive periodic payments when they complete health and wellness-related activities, one of which is regular exercise while wearing an approved fitness-tracking device. Other activities include completing an annual online health review, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, and visiting one's doctor more frequently.

As of Aug. 25, the endorsement had been approved in 18 jurisdictions, according to a filing submitted to Oklahoma regulators. The System for Electronic Rate and Form Filing tracking number for the filing is ELAS-130679886, and it can be accessed via RateFilings.com.

John Hancock Life Insurance Co. (USA) included a similar benefit in some of its filings, which it dubs a Healthy Engagement Benefit. Policyholders can lower premiums by racking up points, which ultimately determine the status of the individual. One route to earning points is to exercise regularly while wearing an approved fitness-tracking device, such as a Fitbit. Other ways to increase points include completing an annual online health review, achieving and maintaining a healthy body mass index, and getting vaccinated against the flu. John Hancock is a unit of Canadian insurer Manulife Financial Corp. A recent example of a filing that describes this benefit is a Montana filing with SERFF tracking number MANU-130580739.

As of the first half of 2016, the Manulife group of companies was one of the top 10 largest writers of ordinary life insurance policies in the U.S. market, based on direct premiums written. It occupied the same spot in 2015 as well. AXA produced fewer premiums but was still in the top 15. This data comes from statutory statements submitted to the NAIC.

Top writers of ordinary life insurance in H1'16

Even if insurers do not explicitly factor wearables into their policies, there are still ways they can be useful, as Capgemini noted in a January report. For instance, the data could be used for claims management or to improve marketing efforts, the consulting firm wrote.

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The technology could offer opportunities to P&C writers as well. Travelers Cos. Inc., for example, prepared a paper in 2015 outlining some of the risks that wearable technology creates and how P&C insurers like itself can provide coverage for them. Travelers highlighted three risk classes in particular: cyber, bodily injury, and technology errors and omissions.

Travelers was one of the leading writers of stand-alone cybersecurity business in the U.S. in 2015, as a recent S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis found.

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