Insurance industry adoption or study of wearable health tech has so far been limited to health insurance companies. For example, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) encouraged health insurance companies to adopt rules regarding incentives to support employee health goals, which could involve wearable health tech. Consultant Michael Ellison reported on “Wearables Poised to Reshape Insurer-Insured Relationship,” focusing on the ramifications of health insurance and health tech industries working together. Now a life insurance company is piloting a program to incentivize customers to reach health goals based on data collected and transmitted by wearable health tech devices.

Zurich Life Assurance is beginning a two-year pilot program with Garmin and Hintsa Performance. Selected Zurich Life customers who buy life insurance policies will be given a Garmin Vivosmart HR device to use at no charge for the two-year study. The participants will follow a health goal-setting program developed by Hintsa specifically for this study. The overall plan is to help customers incorporate healthy behaviors into their daily lives. Customers will not receive lower premiums nor will it affect underwriting or claims. When customers participate and stick to their plans, however, they can earn cash rewards based on actual data collected by the Garmin units. The devices measure and report activity (as measured by footsteps) and heart rate data.

Self-reporting exercise and nutrition program compliance is notoriously inaccurate. Participants over- and under-report compliance for a variety of reasons. Tying financial rewards to exercise data and biometrics via objective wearable health tech devices is a step forward in accountability. The hope is the program will increase compliance and result in healthier customers who live longer.