6 Insurance Companies Investing in Wearable Technology

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Wearable fitness devices are growing in popularity, Tech research firm Gartner says that sales will grow by 18.4 percent this year. Over the past several years, including wearable fitness trackers in wellness programs has been a corporate trend. Now companies have gone a step further, partnering with insurance companies that will provide discounts for participation in wellness programs. Insurance companies are leveraging the popularity of wearable technology to keep customers engaged. 

1. Esurance

This online insurance company has been promoting wearable devices in public events which they sponsor or take part in. They provided the SavorBand devices to attendees of the 2014 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. These electronic wristbands can capture information on food consumed, including recipes, cooking tips, and purchasing discounts along with other data. The devices underscored Esurance's brand as a technology and consumer-oriented insurer by providing a tool for healthier eating habits.

2. Phoenix

The Connecticut-based life insurance and annuity firm has been taking increased measures to capitalize on the wearable device trend. The company donated 50 Fitbits to employees that would take part in a team step-tracking competition. The wearables were snapped up in a matter of minutes, so the firm distributed another 250 fitbits to employees. This was followed by a corporate wellness program offering biometric screenings and health risk assessment. This was so well received that it was expanded later to include disease management, healthy lifestyle coaching, and diet programs.

3. Oscar Health Insurance

The New York health insurance company has partnered with Misfit, makers of fitness-tracking wearables, to create a member program that directly links biometric data to their health insurance coverage. The Misfit band serves as a pedometer which can connect automatically to Oscar's app, which sets new daily goals for walking time. Those who hit the goal earn $1, while those who hit the goal 20 times receive a $20 Amazon gift card. While the cap on rewards is currently $240 per year, Oscar could potentially save many thousands in health insurance coverage by promoting healthier lifestyles among its policy holders. In this case, the insurer is actually paying customers to exercise more.

4. AXA

This Paris-based insurer has branches in countries all over the world. In 2014 it began offering its customers a free Withings Pulse fitness tracker. Participants who walk over 7,000 or over 100,000 steps per day over a one-month period may receive discounts of over $100 off their insurance policy, as well as discounts off any Withings product purchases. The program has continued to grow, offering a good example of a marketing partnership on a global scale that continues to benefit both companies.

5. John Hancock

One of the leaders in U.S. life insurance, this company is actually a branch of Manulife Financial. They've also jumped on the fitness bandwagon by teaming up with Vitality, a provider that specializes in implementing wellness benefits with insurance coverage. In this partnership, participants can use FitBits along with iOS devices to track healthy behaviors such as regular health exams, exercise, and smoking-cessation programs to earn "Vitality points" on a scaled system which could be anything from 30 points a day to regular exercise to 400 points for a flu shot. Those accruing enough points could receive a 15 percent discount on their insurance policy, which amounts to a savings of roughly $91 annually, along with other rewards such as restaurant and shopping discounts.

6. Progressive

The insurance firm has already taken part in a program that gives auto insurance customers a discount if they agree to have their driving habits monitored by a tracking device that transmits geolocation and other driving data to the insurer's computers. The company has also made its own foray into the wearables concept by offering employees fitness bands on top of other healthy perks such as exercise classes and even meditation rooms. This is another ROI strategy providing more productivity and lower insurance rates through fitness.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Contributing Writer

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