Sure, everybody wants life insurance to be relevant and essential to American families, but could life insurance actually be fun?
It’s not only possible, said Kartik Sakthivel, chief information officer, LIMRA and LOMA, it is actually happening at John Hancock. That is one of the subjects Sakthivel addressed with John Hancock CEO Brooks Tingle at Tuesday’s opening session of the virtual Life Insurance Conference.
John Hancock includes with each life insurance policy access to the Vitality program, a technology-based wellness program that rewards healthy habits. Vitality focuses on three pillars of good health — nutrition, physical fitness, and mental well-being. The program nudges users to make small changes, which compound to greater healthy outcomes.
“Vitality is such a great tool to engage with people who don't necessarily associate wellness with life insurance,” Sakthivel said. “It's not just a great engagement tool, but it’s also a goodwill building tool. It's fun too, because you can gamify it.”
The gamifying is the different levels that a user can achieve based on activity. Users can climb four levels, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum, to earn greater savings and rewards.
Vitality includes health screenings, and monitors activity, diet and even sleep. It incentivizes healthy eating by offering up to $120 a month in savings for grocery purchases, plus a $50 bonus for Vitality PLUS members.
Now the program has partnered with Amazon, which will give Vitality members a Halo band for monitoring activity. Tingle said in December with the release of the news that wellness is top of mind these days.
"With health and longevity more top of mind this year than ever before, it is imperative we continue to be a leader in pairing the protection of life insurance with tools and resources that can help our customers better understand, maintain and improve their overall health," Tingle said.
The Halo band tracks heart rate and sleep quality. The three-year membership also allows access to more than 100 Amazon Halo labs — workouts, meditations and challenges that were developed by health and wellness brands and research institutions.
Vitality members can also use other wearable tech such as FitBit and Apple Watch.
The carrier was early in gamification, introducing Vitality in 2015, but other companies are jumping in with advancing life insurance by using tech in many ways. Sakthivel said the shift is imperative for life insurance to be relevant with today’s consumers.
“According to LIMRA research, about three-quarters of carriers are investing in automated and accelerated underwriting programs,” Sakthivel said. “Those kinds of things are extremely critical for us, especially when we talk about the next generations of consumers. They are going to be able to make the process of purchasing insurance, I don't say fun, but I would say seamless.”
LIMRA research has shown that consumers expect the life insurance process to be considerably more speedy than it is today. Their expectation is closer to a week for the process, rather than a month or so.
Sakthivel said carriers are most focused on data analysis in improving processes, and healthy outcomes for consumers.
“What I've been hearing across the industry over the past 15 to 18 months has all been on data analytics, which include things such as IoT [internet of things] and wearable tech,” Sakthivel said. “So we are talking about things like machine learning and artificial intelligence. So AI is surely front and center.”
Steven A. Morelli is a contributing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines. He was also vice president of communications for an insurance agents’ association. Steve can be reached at [email protected]