John Hancock Insurance has expanded its reward program to include eating well.
Last year, policyholders who added the Vitality solution to their life insurance policy could earn points by doing things like exercising, going to the doctor, getting health screenings and now they can earn points for buying healthy food.
“Our Vitality program is like a frequent flyer program for life insurance,” said Brooks Tingle, senior vice president of marketing and strategy with John Hancock “Policy holders earn points for healthy living that count toward a bronze, silver, gold or platinum status which can earn them savings on their life insurance premiums of up to 15 percent a year.”
The Healthy Food benefit was originally developed by Discovery Insurance in South Africa.
“We expect to see more insurers offer similar discounts to the Vitality program,” said Catherine Ho, product actuary for LIMRA research. “It may not be through healthy eating or the Vitality program itself but we will more likely see an increasing number of insurance companies creating reward programs for their policies.”
The insurer said that policy holders with Vitality can shop at Wal-Mart and 12,000 stores in the network, use their store loyalty card and in the process receive significant savings off their healthy food purchases up to $600 a year.
"Policyholders also gain access to trusted science, resources and other tools that will help them adopt healthier diets through a new collaboration with the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, which will provide up-to-date and relevant guidance towards maintaining a healthy diet," said Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the school.
More than two-thirds of American adults age 20 and older are overweight or obese as are 32 percent of children, according to the American Heart Association.
“It’s good for us to have our customers live a long time because it’s at death that we pay a benefit and delaying the death benefit creates financial value for us, that we can share back with our customers,” Tingle said. “If policy holders live longer, their money is invested in the life insurance policy longer and there is more opportunity for investment gain.”
Research shows that offering discounts of 10 percent and 25 percent for buying healthy foods increased the amount of money consumers spent on healthy food, increased the amount of fruits and vegetables they bought and decreased the amount of less-healthy foods purchased, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“If John Hancock is offering up to $600 in discounts in their healthy eating program and up to 15 percent on annual premiums, it is probably based on actuarial assumptions otherwise they could not justify such rewards,” Ho said.
For an advisor selling life insurance, Vitality makes talking about life insurance an easier conversation.
“Advisors are now talking about a client’s life rather than their death when discussing a John Hancock life insurance policy,” said Tingle. “The person the advisor is selling our policy to is getting tangible benefits from day one, which include discounts, rewards, guidance, savings, fun apps and educational content on how to live more healthy.”
Vitality is available to John Hancock Term, Protection Universal Life, Accumulation Indexed Universal Life, Protection Indexed Universal Life, Accumulation Variable Universal Life and Simplified Life or easy-issue Variable Universal Life products.
Juliette Fairley is a business and finance journalist who has written four personal finance books for John Wiley & Sons and has written for major news organizations, such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and the New York Financial Writers Association and a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Juliette can be reached at email@example.com.
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