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Some Consumers Would Still Let Life Insurers Track Them With Smartphones

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Now that insurers are really starting to tie financial incentives to tracking data from wearable devices, the share of consumers who say they like the idea appears to be falling — but is still large.

Analysts at LendEDU look at consumer views on insurer use of wearable device tracking data in a new report on a survey of 1,000 U.S. residents ages 18 and older. The survey was conducted in August.

About 82% of the participants said they object to the idea of an insurance company installing biometric trackers in their bodies in exchange for giving them a chance to qualify for lower life or health insurance premiums.

But 7% of the participants said they were not sure about the idea an insurance company installing biometric trackers in their bodies in exchange for access to life and health discounts.

About 11% of the participants said they were OK with the idea of an insurance company installing biometric trackers in their bodies.


  • 18% of the participants said they were OK with the idea of giving an insurer access to their DNA, and 11% said they were not sure. Just 71% said they opposed the idea of insurer DNA access outright.
  • 8% said they would be open to letting insurers install cameras in their homes, to monitor their daily activities, and 5% said they were not sure. About 87% said they opposed the idea of in-home insurer cameras outright.

More information about the survey is available here.

What Have Insurers Been Saying About Wearable Devices?

John Hancock recently announced that it will now give all of its life insurance policyholders incentives to report on their wellness efforts, and that it will also encourage policyholders to use wearable devices to track wellness metrics, such as how many steps they take each day.

(Related: John Hancock to Build Wellness Incentives Into All Life Policies)

In Berlin, ONE is tying premiums for personal household and liability insurance partly to reports from smart phone-based risk-tracking systems.

(Related: Insurtech Tadpoles Swim With the Frogs)

Back in 2016, managers of Life Happens’ 2016 Insurance Barometer Survey found that 51% of U.S. millennials surveyed, and 30% of all U.S. people surveyed, said they were very or extremely likely to share wearable tracking data with life insurers in exchange for financial rewards.

The new LendEDU survey results suggest that consumer acceptance of insurer wearable device use may be shrinking as real-world use of tracker technology expands.

What Could Happen to Insurer Wearable Device Use in the Future?

State and federal health privacy and data security laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), could also put tight limits on insurer use of tracking data.

But the LendEDU results also suggest that there could still be a large niche market for tracker-based life and health insurance discount programs.

If the same LendEDU survey participants who were open insurers putting cameras in their homes were the ones who were open to insurer DNA access, and insurer access to wearable device tracking information, that means that more than 20 million U.S. adults may be open to life and health discount programs that involve the use of wearable device tracking systems, insurer DNA access and insurer-controlled in-home cameras.

— Read Share Tracker Data With Life Insurers? Consumers Like the Ideaon ThinkAdvisor.

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