Life insurance company will require policyholders to submit fitness data

[Update: John Hancock says while everyone will be required to join the “Vitality Go” program, the fitness tracking portion will be opt-in.]

Next to the day I married my wife, and the days my children were born, and the day the Cleveland Indians won the World Series, the happiest day of my life was the day I lost the fitness tracker my company offered to get us to be healthier employees. Perhaps it’s nagging someone else now who didn’t have enough pressure and unmet obligations in life.

Since that blessed time, they’ve grown to become creepy in many ways, accumulating data that we shouldn’t have to share with anyone.

But that’s what the John Hanock is now requiring, announcing it will no longer sell traditional life insurance policies, opting instead for ‘interactive’ policies which use smart watches and fitbit-type devices to monitor the physical activity of its policyholders.

Existing customers won’t get a choice. Their policies will be converted to the new ones in 2019.

The company says it will provide discounts in exchange for the data. It will likely save money if otherwise sedentary policyholders start exercising and, thus, pay life insurance premiums longer for a product that is, essentially, a bet between them and the company that the company will take more in premiums than it ever pays out.

Engadget notes that people will likely give up their privacy in exchange for the discounts — privacy as a concept is rapidly disappearing as consumers willingly give up for the right price, but, Engadget says, “it could also end up punishing users who have short-term health conditions, such as an injury, illness or a pregnancy and are unable to keep up with fitness goals. It’s also worth remembering that it isn’t too hard to intentionally game the steps count and other stats with these devices, and that they aren’t perfectly accurate.”