A novel concept but it shouldn’t be – a life insurance program that actually rewards you for healthy living. I didn’t know much about this new Manulife initiative until I saw the recent media blitz so I reached out to an independent life insurance broker, Glenn Cooke, President, Life Insurance Canada.com to get his inside industry take and answer a few questions.
First, what is Vitality?
Glenn: This of it as a wellness program. Live well, eat well, and earn points. Continue to live well and improve your health status over time and you can qualify for additional rewards including savings on your life insurance premiums.
I found this 2-minute promotional video, check it out:
Glenn, is this a new concept for life insurance industry?
This type of program has had great success in the U.S. but it is new here. I think Canadians should know some practical implications of this new program.
Glenn: This is not a difference in life insurance. The life insurance component remains the same. Meaning, $500,000 of a 20-year term insurance product with Vitality is still a cheque to your loved ones for $500,000 if you die. Remember that term insurance is just one type of life insurance. Canadians should also consider permanent insurance – know what you’re getting into here.
So is it a rider of sorts then?
Glenn: You got it. Vitality is a rider available on new (not existing) Manulife Term 20 and Term 65 life insurance policies with amounts of $500,000 to $1 million. The rider costs very little money which I will explain in a bit. The rider allows you access to additional benefits – those are a potential (not guaranteed) reduction in insurance premiums and secondly, a rewards program.
Regarding the premiums
As mentioned adding the rider will cost you $2/month. Manulife has four levels of premiums. Through a series of specific activities on your part you can accumulate points. Earn enough points in a year and your premium will be adjusted downward. As you’d expect based, many of these activities are fitness related. Proof of regular exercise will accumulate points towards discounted life insurance premiums. However a surprising number of actions are simply maintenance and monitoring. For example, Manulife will pay to send a paramedic to you once a year to do a BMI and blood test and provide you with the results. That action alone is worth points towards decreasing your premiums. The reasoning is that the very activity of being proactive and monitoring has a measurable mortality benefit which is why fitness is a part of this.
There’s a lower bound on how cheap your premiums can go. Manulife has indicated that they expect you should be able to get some, if not the cheapest premiums in the industry. There’s also an upper bound on the premiums but it’s actually pretty good. If you join the program and do nothing other than gather dust on the sofa then worst case is your total premiums over 20 years will be the same as if you hadn’t joined the program. With that, they’ve made the program all upside – great for Canadians overall.
Regarding the rewards program
They currently have three rewards programs available. I’ve been assured that they are working on many more rewards in the future. Here’s a list of the rewards:
- Free Garmin Fitness Tracker – by joining the program you’ll receive a free Garmin Fitness Tracker. So hey, free Garmin.
- Membership discounts at Good Life – Vitality members get 55% off a gym membership at Good Life. With the price of gym memberships these days, a good deal.
- Amazon Gift Cards – who doesn’t shop online? Also, by doing some gamification activities on the Manulife website you can potentially earn some small Amazon gift cards. I’m suspicious that this was invented so that the marketing department could use the terms ‘disruptive’ and ‘gamification’ but heck I’ve always been a skeptic.
I don’t have the complete inside track at Manulife but I would expect to see some partnerships with national retailers in food and pharmacy at a minimum, so stay tuned.
Mark: Thanks for this Glenn – seems like a great new initiative.
Glenn: You’re welcome Mark and if you or your readers want more details about Vitality or any other independent take on insurance products, I’m happy to oblige. See you here again soon.
Glenn Cooke is a life insurance broker and president of Life Insurance Canada.com Inc.