E33: Wellness & Life Insurance. How John Hancock Developed Their Vitality Program

Part of the conflict between insurance buyers and insurance carriers is that while both stakeholders WANT the same outcome (neither the homeowner nor the insurer wants a fire, neither the life insurance company nor the policyholder wants a death) there is a disconnect of communication. Policyholders don’t understand what they can do to lower risk…or worse…they know what to do, but the insurer has not communicated that they would reward the policyholder for taking steps to lower risk.

In this episode, I spoke with Lindsay Hanson, Head of Vitality Strategy and Operations, on how John Hancock is using technological devices to nudge and encourage policyholders to make healthy decisions, which should lead to better health outcomes, which should mean longer lives, which should mean lower life insurance premiums.

Watch here:

Connect:
Lindsay Hanson (LinkedIn)
John Hancock Vitality Program

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Transcript

Nick
And we're live we're back Coverager Podcast I am in Coverager Podcast headquarters in Naples, Florida. enjoying my window view. Just kidding. It's a zoom background. And I am excited about this particular podcast. For those of you that are recurring listeners, you will know that just recently I had, we had a discussion on wellness, and we with Beam Dental and we had a long conversation around that. And I think a lot of folks could see how excited I got. Well, sure enough, as coincidence in fate kind of leads us. I was actually able to be introduced to someone from John Hancock that runs the vitality program. So Lindsay Hanson, I would like to welcome you to the Coverager Podcast.

Lindsay H
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Nick
And I started off all of these podcasts by allowing you to introduce yourself, but why don't you give us a little elevator pitch? Who are you? But also, who do you work for? I already you mentioned that but talk a little bit about what you do and why that's important.

Lindsay H
Absolutely. So thanks for having me, Nick. Happy to be here. And it's you know, it's really exciting time. I'm Lindsay Hanson, I run Head of Vitality, Innovation and Partnerships here at John Hancock insurance, based in Boston currently working down in the south shore. And you know, it's really important, all of the different things we're doing, it's been great to see our program and our solutions that we're bringing to our customers just continue to evolve. And we're always looking for different ways that we can bring new and exciting opportunities to our customers through way of life insurance, which isn't traditionally the way that we think of innovation. So it's it's been a really great opportunity for us to be able to, to bring new ideas to bring new concepts and to really make life insurance fun, which is not something that you normally hear. So happy to be able to to share some of that with you today.

Nick
Yeah. So generally, as you said, fun and exciting and life insurance, I'm thinking that's an oxymoron. Right there like you don't really connect those things. But I think we might have an opportunity to, to share with the audience that. I want to talk about the vitality program. So can you talk a little bit about the mission behind that? I don't know if you were there from the very start of the vitality program. So the mission and maybe a little bit of the history around it.

Lindsay H
Absolutely. Our mission and purpose with John Hancock Vitality is to help people live longer, healthier lives. End of the day, that's what we're focused on. And I joined the vitality team about a year in after launch. So have been with the program for a while and really thinking through the different opportunities that we can do. And at John Hancock, we fundamentally believe that a life insurance company, you know, we're in a unique position to help customers live longer, healthier lives. With our vitality program, we can create more meaningful interactions, more engaging interactions, you know, a more holistic experience for our customers. And so when we launched vitality a little over five years ago, we knew we were bringing something new to the insurance market. We knew we were going to make the owning process or sorry, the ownership experience of life insurance fun and engaging. We have typical life insurance today is interacting with your customers once or twice a year through a bill.

Nick
If that, exactly

Lindsay H
And then you took it away, and you hope you don't need to look at it. But with vitality, we're interacting with our customers up to 40 times a month. And that's just a true change and true innovation to a product that really hadn't changed in so many years. So we've taken a different approach with vitality. It's really a shared value type insurance. And so what that means for us is that it's an opportunity for the company to give back to the customers through incentives, through resources, through rewards, through opportunities, for them to engage, and in turn for them to save money on their life insurance premium and be able to be in control of that. And so by that engaging experience, that's really what the vitality program allows us to do.

Nick
Yeah, so I was scanning through the website and I was actually surprised. I would my expectations were coming in and I was expecting more of a straight on, You wear a watch this happens. But it was it was more than that. There were lots of different things that were going on, lots of different ways, one, that policyholders can save money on things, technology and other stuff that can then lead to savings in life insurance. So he talked a little bit about some of the different offerings that you currently have. Because it's not just one thing or two things like there was a, you had an entire webpage of all the different partnerships and interactions that you're that you have.

Lindsay H
Yeah, our program is very much about choice. It's really how our customers want to engage with us, how they want to participate in the program. And so that not only goes for what we're able to offer to them in terms of incentive and rewards, but also in terms of how they want to participate in the vitality program. So, you know, you asked about some different technology, some different partners, you know, we have partners of the likes of when someone wants to do their biometrics, we have partners of Quest, that you're able to schedule appointments, right there online, to be able to do your doctor's visits, we have partners, through the likes of you know, for physical activity, we have partners of Fitbit, now Amazon with the Amazon Halo, you know, we have a great benefit with Apple in terms of offering the Apple Watch reward program where you can engage with the Apple Watch, and you can earn it down to free and not pay anything for it over two years by engaging with us, you know, the more you engage, the more that you're able to get benefits out of the program. And by that I mean, you know, the vitality program I may have should have started here is you move through different status levels. So you move from bronze to silver, to gold to platinum. And as you move through those status levels, you earn the opportunity to not only save money on your premium, but to unlock other rewards. So the ability to earn more discounts at staying@hotels.com. For example, the higher your status, the more you save. Another example of that would be if you earn three years at our highest status, which is platinum, you can get a free Amazon Prime membership. So there's so many different opportunities for our customers to engage. And for us to partner. We really enjoy being in coordination with some of the best brands across the globe, Amazon, Apple, Verily, which is the Google Life Science Division, you know, Fitbit, Headspace, the list goes on and on. And so it's just really been tremendous for us.

Nick
Yeah, talk about your partnership with Amazon Halo. For those that are listening, this was new to me as well. So can you talk about Halo, the halo itself, and what that partnership will will look like?

Lindsay H
Yeah, it's it's really just a wonderful collaboration. And we've gotten a great deal out of working with Amazon, and they've truly gotten a great deal out of working with us some, you know, we've, we've shared a lot of different opportunities for being able to work together. And we've been talking with them. And it's been a wonderful collaboration over the past two years. And so what's really been great is to see you know, an insurance company that's over 150 years old, working with some of the, you know, the one of the latest and greatest companies out there that is just really focused on customers and really focused on being a more customer centric company. And for us, that's one of the greatest learnings that that we've taken from that. And so as I think about what we're doing with Amazon, it's really an opportunity for us to be able to offer the latest technology that Amazon is bringing to life with their Amazon Halo to our customers. It's a wearable device that comes with a membership, and our members are actually going to be getting three years of this membership that is being offered with the Halo. And that allows a lot of different ways for the customers, our customers to interact. So the Halo offers really five unique features that it brings. So the first is physical activity, physical activity, as we think about it today, it steps, its heart rate, but what the Halo brings is also an opportunity to give you an activity score. And with that activity score, it's really over a period of time versus looking at each day. So that's a unique opportunity for us to see physical activity a little bit differently. The second is sleep. And that is something you could argue is at the crux of all helping you get I don't know if you run into that Nick at all, but it's certainly something that just always seems to come up. What the Halo does it it's not only hours of sleep, but it's the quality of sleep. And with that it's not only telling you you slept for seven hours, but you got up three or four times and here are some different things to try along the way. So that's a great opportunity. And and something we're really interested in, you know, the science behind sleep has just continued to evolve over time. And this is one where where we know this is going to be a great pillar for us.

Oh, go ahead.

Nick
No, I was good that I'm sorry that the sleep thing with the Halo was what like was really intriguing, because I hadn't seen anyone offer anything like that. So, and I know how important sleep is. So I apologize, I thought I thought you had ended. So let's go to point number three on Amazon Halo.

Lindsay H
Yeah, no, that's, that's completely fine, thank you. The third is what Amazon Halo was calling labs, you can also think of these as challenges. And what this allows the Halo to do is become and to learn and be much more personalized. So it may tell you that if you get up a couple times during the night, maybe not drink so much water before bed, or to maybe try going for a light walk before bed. So this is going to give you a challenge and it will ask you to try it and then report back. And so it's going to learn about you. And it's going to make that a much more personalized approach. And we're going to be awarding our customers points for for engaging in these labs. And the last two features that the Halo offers their new-to-world features. And it's been really exciting to hear from Amazon as these have developed. And our customers are going to have access to both of these. The one is tone, so the tone of your voice. And it's going to, you know, let you know, were you sympathetic, were you happy? Were you angry? Were you frustrated? And it will give you you know, really what did your tone say? And so for me personally, it's going to be interesting to look through my day and understand what was my tone, like in a meeting or with my family or you know, those types of things. So that's going to be great. And then the last is body composition. And this allows, you know, customers members to be able to take a photo and it will a photo of their bodies, and it will tell them, you know, their BMI, you know different things about their body and composition. And, and you know, maybe give them tips. This isn't something I'm looking to jump into. But I think it's a great opportunity, you know, for customers that that want to be able to do that.

Nick
Yeah, it's um, you had mentioned that John Hancock, so 150 year old company, so well known brand name, beyond just being the signer of the Declaration of Independence, but well known brand name for insurance. And I'm curious as to as this program was developing, what's the interaction with, let's just call it old school values of, you know, a very old life insurer that, you know, frankly, could be set in their ways they're, you know, have done stuff for a certain way for a particular amount of time. This is very new. This is very different. This is this, this requires a different...it you're you're starting to tread into a different model for how policyholders and insurance companies can interact with one another and how, because you're in a position of leverage with data you can you can communicate back to your policyholders on how best to use that data, and what's the data telling us and you know, you should be doing these things up. But walk us through what that what that's like, having the vitality team that's dealing with a very tech oriented, digital, modern, in contrast with, you know, an old school legacy, insurer, what's how's How are the two interacting with one another?

Lindsay H
We're incredibly excited to be an insurance company that's over 150 years to be working with the likes of a lot of the organizations and brands that we talked about. And we're so excited to be partnering with these new age companies that are doing such highly innovative things, which allows us to do highly innovative things. And really, from this innovation, you know, we're really fortunate to be able to bring the latest and greatest technologies to our customers. And it allows us to learn about different customer experiences, customer expectations, customer values, which are so important to us as our overall mission and purpose. And that is again to help people live longer, healthier lives. But we do that by creating this ecosystem of partners of companies that we're coordinating with of technologies of science, and that allows us to be able to do all different things that are brand new to our industry. So as I think about you know, being this over 150 year old organization partnering with some of these, you know, leading companies leading brands, it's it's just allowed us to learn a lot but also to offer a bit of learnings back to these organizations as well about getting into this space and partnering with us.

Nick
So let's talk about the elephant in the room which is data. There have been discovered about, you know, how are these companies going to use this data? There are probably regulatory pressures as well on what you can use, how you can use it, what's fair, what's unfair? what it what is John Hancock, John Hancock's position, the vitality programs position on the data that you're collecting and what you'll use it for, or maybe more importantly, what you won't use it for.

Lindsay H
John Hancock, I mean, we're, we're committed to respecting and protecting our customers personal information. And that not only goes for us as an organization, but it goes for all of the companies that we partner with, we highly respect our clients privacy, especially with it being health related information related. And it's just been paramount for us, you know, as john Hancock is more than 150 years old, as we were just talking about NEC. And so, you know, we not only have the, you know, the physical and technical safeguards to protect, but we also have, you know, we protect our customers personal information, as in many ways as we can, and also through the vitality registration process, our customers authorized if they want to share this information with us. They don't have to share information to participate in the vitality program. It's all information that they give to us. And we give right back to that, because a main pillar of the vitality program is educating our customers on knowing their health, and allowing them to the tools and resources and information on how they can improve upon

Nick
it. Can we talk about the rewards program, so that's going to be intriguing to someone like me, highly competitive, you know, it's like, just give me my watches, give me my devices. And let's, let's set up some things and and make this very goal oriented. He walked us through some examples. So you had mentioned the different metal metal categories up to platinum, but could put a little more context to it, what would it take to sort of get to ratchet up and climb the ladder, from one metal to the other, give a flavor for what what's the difference between someone that was in the Platinum level and someone that's down on the bronze.

Lindsay H
If you think about it, you know, really the reward status to be similar to you know, in airline, right, you get different statuses, the more you fly. And so for us, it's you go from this bronze to silver to gold to platinum. And what that is, is silver is 3500, silver is 7000. And Platinum is 10,000. And so as you do different activities, you move yourself through. And as you reach different status levels, you save more on your life insurance premium. And as I said earlier, it unlocks these other rewards that you're able to get. So, you know, as you can unlock these different these different status levels, there's things like biometrics that you can do for being within a BMI range, or your height and your weight, or simply just going to see your doctor and letting us know that you did your biometrics, you get points for that physical activity, you can get up to 7000 points annually for engaging in physical activity anywhere from a light walk, which could be 5000 steps to more of a standard workout. You know, maybe it's those 10,000 steps to running a five K, which could be 250 points. So there's a lot

Nick
I was just gonna ask you like, Is there any rewards points for a marathon or an Iron Man competition? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker
those range from 250 points to you know, 500 points, pending the type of activity and really the athletic event, it could be a bike race, it can be a triathlon, all those things are things that we we try to be and we are top of mind for whatever our customers are interested in. And what they're doing, you know, the Apple Watch was a great opportunity for us to unlock more activity. And so if you're a watch user, you know, one of the things you're able to do is to put in an activity of yoga, or rowing or an elliptical things that we really couldn't couldn't see from our customers doing before. Okay, and at their gym, but we weren't sure how they were exercising, but they can tell us now with the watch, and we can make it more personalized for them. Yeah, that's a great opportunity for us is the Apple Watch program that we have.

Nick
Yeah, there's finally like an alignment of interest there. We both want the same thing. We both want to live longer. You want that we want that. And now there's that way, do these devices can they detect smoking and they detect alcohol consumption like what are though so far? What are the limitations of these technologies?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, so from from the technologies, you know, they do a lot of they do a lot. I think one of the main components of our program is we do not ask our customer to share with us more information than we need for the program. So we don't have a smoking component, we don't have a drinking component alcohol consumption component. So with that we we don't ask the customer to share that information with us. It's around the the physical activity components, if someone wants to share that, you know, so it's really all about that choice

Nick
to initially start, is their traditional life insurance medical exam? How does that work?

Lindsay H
Yeah, so traditionally, starting with life insurance, you know, we have a different channels that you can come through, but it is a true even traditional process for applying for life insurance, you can do it online, you can go through a broker or an advisor, and you can either of those channels, you are able to purchase john Hancock vitality product. And with that there's there's underwriting, which can come through the forms of simplified underwriting, which allows you to get an instant decision all the way through what we would consider to be traditional underwriting.

Nick
How about so this is, this changes insurance in a way that I think is very important from, as you mentioned, light touch, and even those touches, I wouldn't even call them touch points, because it's like I'm sending you a bill. I don't want you to touch me at this point, to a high touch where the experience is positive in those touch moments. Right. So have you I and I didn't get this from your website? So I'm not sure if you've gotten to this point yet. But it has there been a community use you said the word ecosystem, but has a community developed around that where policyholders can potentially talk to one another or engage with one another in sort of reinforcing the positive aspect of get better sleep? You know, exercise? Are you doing any of that?

Unknown Speaker
We actually hear that more than I more than I imagined we would from from a lot of our customers that their spouse, their children, their families have all purchased, and they compete in the program in which they say I closed my Apple Watch rings today, you haven't done that yet. Or, hey, I was able to get to this status, you're not there yet. And so it's really created a healthy competition amongst families, amongst friends to be able to bring that it's we hear it a lot from customers. That's one of the main voices of our program is how can we continue to make this better for our customers? And, and that's really been one that's really been great to see just this healthy competition amongst family and friends.

Nick
Yeah. How have the regulator's interacted with you, regarding this? I know they, they've had concerns with data and other things. And I'm just curious, since you're everywhere, you may have different levels of interaction with how regulators must feel. But I think at the end of the day, this seems like a very positive thing that they would embrace. How is that interaction then?

Lindsay H
We partner directly with regulators across all 50 states. And it's really been a tremendous partnership for us, as we talk about partnerships with brands and companies. One of our main partnerships is with the regulators and just talking with them, and showing them the science behind this type of life insurance, and really, how it's not only beneficial to consumers, but also to society as a whole. And so they've just been tremendous through this, you know, obviously, listening to us asking us tremendous questions and being able to work through it together. But we, you know, it's it's been, it's been a great collaboration to work with them.

Nick
Let's fantasize. There's my final question. Let's fantasize about the future of I'm going to call it wellness. We won't classify like in the category of life insurance, like, Where could this go? This This could be, you know, are you trying to phrase this in the right way? Like, how did this this is a good interaction of your creativity with the technology that's available? Is there any reason why your creativity could be limited by the technology? Like do you have to wait for the technology to arrive? It sounds as though you may be getting to touch points and other things where you don't necessarily have to wait for new technology, you can continuously find new ways to encourage wellness.

Lindsay H
It's a great question, Nick. We're we're constantly I'm constantly scanning the marketplace and all marketplaces not just you know where we play today for the latest Innovation and Science and Technology consumer offerings, what are consumers interested in? How is that changing over time. And there's certainly a lot out there, which is a great opportunity to not know what's going to be around that next corner for for not only science and technology, but for our program. And so I don't see us limited by waiting for the next. And you know, latest and greatest technology, I see us being able to, you know, being able to bring it to market being able to explore that. And we really just want to continue to bring those best tools and resources and technologies to our customers. But what interests me a lot is, is not only about the owning process that we've talked a lot about, I think there's a lot we can do for for the buying process, within life insurance and being able to say, you know, tell us your name and your birthday, and we can issue you a policy, and really moving to that being an easier process is something that I think is, you know, a remarkable transformation that we're going to start to see and something that I'm really interested to work on.

Nick
Yeah, I love the mission. It's, I think there's just such a need. I've been, I've been preaching the abstraction of insurance, and basically, how, in 10 years, we really need to stop thinking ourselves as like insurance plays, and really get to a more of a direct mission, you know, whether it's helping people live longer, healthier lives or protecting property. Like I think that is what we bring to the table. We were swimming in a wealth of data. And so we should repackage that and bring it back to our policyholders in society and just say, here are the things you need to do. And we're going to help you encourage do that. So I love the mission. I love the conversation. Please tell up please continue to let us know if you're enhancing this vitality program. Anything that's going to encourage people to live better, please share that income information with us. So we can share it with our audience. But I Lindsey, I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation.

Lindsay H
I did as well. Nick, thank you so much for the time. I really appreciate it.

Nick
Yep. So we're still living in COVID times, so everybody still be safe. Shouldn't have to bash everybody over the head. You're out in public. Just wear a mask. It's not that big a deal. Wash your hands just be protective. Let's respect one another. We just ended a podcast on wellness. Let's respect one another, be well to yourself. Be well to others. Lindsay, thank you so much.

Lindsay H
Thank you, Nick.

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