Actuarial news and views from Cape Town and beyond

Activity trackers – new name of the underwriting game


Popularization of activity trackers such as Fitbit and Jawbone has changed lives for millions and surprisingly, it also has sneaked its way into health insurance companies’ expense management.

An activity tracker allows constant tracking of various physical activity measures such as average heart rate, calories burnt, blood pressure etc. of the wearer, enabling its users to analyze the figures recorded over time.

In order to obtain such relevant data about their policyholders, now health insurance companies are encouraging, even subsidizing such that their policyholders own an activity tracker. All the data recorded from these devices are uploaded onto a database available to the insurer, and through data mining/extrapolation and analyses of this data, they are able to uniquely underwrite their policyholders on a more regular basis at a lower cost.

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3 thoughts on “Activity trackers – new name of the underwriting game

  1. Perhaps great for insurers to better assess risks, but not so great for user privacy concerns. Fitbit captures nearly everything. Imagine having your insurer know when your girlfriend breaks up with you o_O (read:

    • Thanks for your input Marcio.
      I strongly agree that such personal information should be kept private, although I struggle to think of an incentive for the insurer to even view such information. However Fitbit does capture a wide range of data so privacy of information should be given adequate concern.

  2. This reminds me of the debate we had last year about genetic testing – is it ethical for insurers to test you for genetic diseases and use this for rating purposes?

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