Last week, life insurance company John Hancock Financial announced that it would only sell so-called interactive policies that allow customers to share fitness data in exchange for discounts. Though customers can opt out of the program, the 156-year-old company's decision has created worry about privacy precedents and unintended consequences.
Broadly speaking, "interactive policy" means the company receives extra data and then uses it to adjust premiums or give discounts, according to Reginald Mazyck, a life actuary at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. These policies are frequently used in the United Kingdom and are becoming more popular in health insurance and with individual companies, but one of the most well-known examples comes from car insurance. Companies like Allstate frequently strike a deal with interested drivers: install a monitoring device in your car and, if you're a safe driver, receive a discount in return.