Embedding wearable health technology into the insurance industry

Embedding wearable health technology into the insurance industry

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Speaker(s): Lisa Altmann-Richer (Bupa)

Private insurers including health, critical illness, income protection and life insurers are seeing a rise in claims due to the growing non-communicable disease (NCD) burden. Higher levels of physical activity have been suggested by the World Health Organization as a way to tackle rising morbidity and mortality from NCDs. Physical activity trackers are beginning to be used by some private insurers to track the physical activity of their customers.

These devices could provide cost saving opportunities for private insurers by allowing them to explore and exploit the link between physical activity and NCD. Findings from a systematic examination of the literature on the long-term relationship between physical activity and NCDs are used to suggest a prospective framework for the policy implications of the use of physical activity trackers and other wearable health tech by private insurers. In the short-term we are likely to see insurers incentivising the uptake of wearable devices iso that they can use data analytics to refine the understanding of the relationship between lifestyle behaviours and risk of developing NCDs.

In the medium-term insurers may seek to class policyholders according to their health risks by charging differential risk-rated premiums, whilst policymakers may look to prevent the discrimination inherent in classing through the introduction of risk-smoothing policies. In the long-term there is an opportunity for insurers to collaborate with other stakeholders in the wearable health-tech ecosystem to encourage behavioural change that reduces the societal disease burden.

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