(Withings O2, photo courtesy of the manufacturer.)
In a recent article, Aflac CIO Julia Davis asks a question on many insurance executives’ minds: “With the proliferation of devices like Fitbit and Bodybugg, how we can leverage some of that to drive better underwriting for folks?” Companies are rightfully not at liberty to use personal health data and spend millions to make sure they comply with all the personal data protection laws such as HIPAA (US), PIPEDA, (Canada) and European privacy regulations. But what if individuals choose to share their personal data?
A new offering of supplementary insurance by AXA in France provides an example of such sharing. AXA offers a Withings Pulse O2 activity tracker, worth € 99.95 to the first 1000 customers who purchase supplemental health “Modulango” from AXA.fr. Modulango subscribers can voluntarily participate in a contest to four weeks rewarding physical activity. Depending on the number of steps made in this period, volunteers can earn vouchers enabling them to access services of alternative medicine:
- From 7000 steps per day: 1 check worth 50 € for alternative medicine + 15% discount on Withings products.
- From 10 000 steps per day: 2 check worth 50 € for alternative medicine + 20% discount on Withings products
The gift certificates at the end of the contest are intended to incent volunteers to give their consent for Withings to share their personal data with AXA Health France – one of the earliest examples of consumers volunteering to share personal data via a connected device.
This breakthrough approach to accessing potentially valuable customer data for underwriting purposes demonstrates that innovation requires thinking beyond industry assumptions.
A new normal leads to new expectations
The results are not in yet with regard to the potential of voluntary sharing of personal data, but there is no way back: individuals can be expected to share more and more personal data through internet connected devices. In this case, AXA astutely leverages new technology to target a younger generation of consumers that traditionally was not prone to subscribing to supplemental health coverage. Other insurers should take note, as they plan for the future.
In ancient China, the Emperor’s doctor would only earn his pay when the royal family was healthy. The Chinese system worked that way because doctors were expected to maintain one’s health and wellness through prevention.
The same way, if we start following insurer’s recommendations for physically activity with the goal of lowering health risks, this will lower the likelihood of filling claims, we can imagine a future where our insurance premium will be dependent on the level of activity recorded by connected trackers.