Protection  

'Not hard to see' doctors becoming life insurance advisers in future

'Not hard to see' doctors becoming life insurance advisers in future
Vitality launches insurance product linking premiums to Apple watch activity [David Paul Morris/Bloomberg]

Doctors could one day do a very similar job to protection advisers following the launch of Vitality’s ‘ActiveLife’ insurance product which links premiums directly to activity tracked by an Apple watch.

The product launch, Vitality’s first of 2023, was announced yesterday (January 19) and experts have said it could be “the first of its type” globally, and that other wearable devices are being worked on which will soon provide data to medical standards.

While the product is direct-to-consumer, it could still have repercussions for the UK’s adviser population and how insurers underwrite policies in the future, according to experts.

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“In creating this new product, Vitality has shown what the future shape of the life insurance industry might be like,” said Ian McKenna, founder of Financial Technology Research Centre and its subsidiary, Protection Guru.

“Significant advances in wearable devices and other monitoring technology can transform underwriting.

“The next generation of wearable devices that can produce data to medical standards, are already in development.”

Once these products arrive, McKenna said advisers may see a whole new distribution channel open up across the insurance industry. 

“Could your doctor also become your next life insurance adviser? We are not there yet, but it’s not hard to see how it could happen.”

Every customer that takes out Vitality’s new ActiveLife cover gets an Apple Watch SE included in the policy.

The premium a person pays will then be dictated by the number of ‘Active Days’ they register in the previous month on the watch.

“The level of activity required may vary based on a person’s situation, however as an indication in my quote I could walk 10,000 steps, complete 30 minutes exercise or register 200 active calories burned to log an Active Day,” Adam Higgs, a product manager at Protection Guru, an adviser information hub, explained.

“As you would expect, the more ‘Active Days’ that are logged in a month, the bigger a discount on the premium.”

The plan, set on a three-year renewable basis, includes £500 per month for income protection - or as it calls it ‘Living Expense Cover’ - £30,000 in severe illness cover and £150,000 of life cover.

Asked whether products like this have been designed abroad, McKenna told FTAdviser: “Vitality has been really innovative in South Africa with its wider benefits plan marketed through its parent Discovery. In Asia, there have been plans linked to how people have managed their health long term.

“But I have never seen anything directly linked to an actual wearable. That said, this is just the start, as more and more powerful wearables come into the market.”

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com