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Why you should not wear health devices

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So far insurances had to rely on your declarative questionnaires to evaluate the risk you represented. Those have been found to be very intrusive; so intrusive in fact that Belgian consumers’ defense organization Test Achats has urged insurance companies to change those questionnaires (link in French).

This evaluation was made at the time you subscribed the insurance and was likely not to be revised afterwards. Insurances had to predict your risk for the x coming years and that is a difficult task. Wearables represent a great opportunity for insurances to learn more about you. If you decide to give access to wear a health device that monitors your pulse, heart rate and other potentially vital information, be however aware of the risk that this data be captured by insurance companies and used against you. As a recent article in Slate recalls, one can predict a hell lot on someone’s health if access is given to such basic information and monitor it longitudinally.

Lower fees for those who do sport

Insurance companies came up with a freaking good idea to get access to your most intimate data : they promise you lower fees if you volunteer to wear a health-monitoring data and do sports. That’s exactly the same story as with car insurances and black boxes installed to monitor your driving behavior. With one exception though. You can decide on your driving behavior. You can’t decide on your health in spite of all the sport you may exercise. There is a genetic part you can’t control and that’s why risks must be shared among all insurance takers. This is fair.

The real strategy to get full real-time access to your body data

Insurance companies have a plan to lure you. It’s a 4-step plan.

  • Step 1 : Get customers used to wearables
  • Step 2 : Once customers are used to be controlled to get (presumably) lower fees, offer them to wear a device permanently to monitor vital data such as heart beats, blood pressure, etc … This, insurance companies will promise, will be for your good as it would allow them
  • Step 3 : once a large stake of customers have accepted to wear such a device, make it compulsory prior to subcribing an insurance
  • Step 4 : introduce the possibility of periodical revisions based on health data accumulated by the device and transmitted to the insurance

Conclusion : don’t believe insurance companies

Insurance companies are “for profits” companies. It means they want to serve dividends to their shareholders. To achieve that goal they need to lower their costs and increase their revenues. In the insurance business, costs are created mainly by risks that have to be compensated. Wearables offer a great opportunity for insurance companies to control those risks, hence the costs associated, and to eventually propose their products only to customers with the lower risk profiles. Don’t be fooled. Don’t believe their promises.

Image : Shutterstock

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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