Shared Value Insurance: Launch of John Hancock Vitality

By Derek Yach

Life expectancy has increased to unprecedented levels worldwide. Numerous countries, including the United States (US), have witnessed people living longer with more years spent in poorer health. Healthy life expectancy is increasing, though at a slower rate than life expectancy. Largely preventable chronic diseases – including cardiovascular disease, various cancers, and type-II diabetes – are driven largely by tobacco use, unhealthy and excess diets, excess alcohol and a lack of physical activity, and currently dominate as major causes of death. Dementia and musculoskeletal disorders, both strongly age dependent and lacking strong preventive interventions, are set to become the future drivers of considerable morbidity, suffering and economic hardship.

In the US, extending life historically included the voices and services of life insurers. Prolonging Life as a Function of Life – published in 1919 – noted the role of life insurers in promoting health and preventing disease: “It is logical and entirely consistent that there should be blended with this business of life insurance the element of health preservation, disease prevention and death postponement, especially as the inclusion of these functions in the activities of the business would operate both to popularize and financially strengthen the institution.” Similarly, the Life Extension Institute in the early 20th century conducted physical examinations to identify health “defects” and remedied these through teaching hygiene. Home nursing was provided along with the production and distribution of educational materials. Later in 1936, the New York Times published that the Supreme Court ruled to diminish the work of the Life Extension Institute.

Since the early 20th century, the creation of a robust scientific evidence base has garnered the support of public health. Behavioral economics – a field that understands what can be seemingly irrational human decision-making – combined with innovative personalized health technology and partnerships for action, enable behavioral change so that the, in the words of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, “the healthy choice becomes the easy choice”.

Today, Vitality announces a new phase in life insurance in partnership with John Hancock.

Life insurance has historically been seen as providing financial protection for families after death. It has operated on a simple and static model that has avoided enhancing the very quality it uses in its title – LIFE.

In contrast, “shared value insurance” is predicated upon principles of behavioral economics; clinical, actuarial and lifestyle data; and integration with technology. It is dynamic and actively works with members to enhance the length and quality of their lives. It is a socially-advanced model where actuarial surplus resulting from longer lives lived is reinvested to the benefit of the customer and the insurer. Modification of our business model to extend life by promoting health and preventing disease reflects Vitality and John Hancock’s values as a common force for social good. It builds on John Hancock’s leadership in providing better protection to families that extends over 150 years and draws upon Vitality’s increasingly global experience. We invite you to join us on this historical journey.

Do you have life insurance? Would you consider getting it if it rewarded you for embracing a healthier lifestyle today?


Follow Derek Yach on Twitter @swimdaily or the Vitality Institute @VitalityInst.

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