Cheap Apple Watch - If You Exercise

John Lister's picture

A life insurance company is offering the Apple watch for just $25 to customers. The catch is that they will have to meet health goals as tracked by the watch to be eligible for the discount.

The smart watch connects wirelessly to an iPhone and has two main uses (besides telling the time): displaying information so that users don't have to retrieve their phone, and tracking activity for fitness apps.

Normally the latest model costs at least $329, so the offer from John Hancock insurance is a significant discount. It's only eligible for people who take out life insurance and sign up for its "Vitality Program."

Healthy Food Shopping Rewarded

The company already offers financial incentives for a healthier lifestyle, something that's clearly in its interests given that it lowers the chance of having to pay out earlier than expected on a policy. For example, customers who agree to have their grocery shopping tracked earn cash back and/or premium reductions based on buying specific healthy option items. (Source:

Until now, customers had been offered a free Fitbit fitness tracker as a policy bonus. However, that was solely for the customer's own use, whereas information and activity wasn't shared with the insurer.

Things are different with the Apple watch offer. The customer will now pay $25 up front, but will then make monthly payments based on the number of workouts tracked on the watch. If they reach a certain threshold, they will pay zero. (Source:

If they miss the target, they will start paying installments - and in the worst case scenario could pay the full retail price. Even so, it would effectively mean getting the watch via an interest-free loan.

Data Regulation Concerns

The deal raises questions on both sides. Apple sharing the watch data with the insurer could come under data security regulations, particularly if it is treated as medical data.

Meanwhile, there's an incentive for users to try to game the system. For the most part, it appears to be difficult if not impossible to digitally manipulate the data on an Apple watch. However, the money at stake means it could theoretically be worthwhile a customer paying somebody else to wear the watch while running or working out, particularly if that person would have been doing the exercise anyway.

What's Your Opinion?

Would the prospect of reduced insurance premiums or a free smart watch persuade you to take more exercise? Do you trust insurers having access to your fitness tracking data? Should such data be treated in the same way as medical records when it comes to regulations?

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Dennis Faas's picture

It's pretty creepy (and intrusive) that an insurance company wants real-time data on your heart rate. As far as I see, this "offer" is a win-win for the insurance company.

First, the longer you are alive, the longer you will pay your insurance premium. Second, the out-of-pocket cost for the watch is minimal to the insurance company, considering the cost of the premium. My premiums are around $130 a month so the watch would be paid for in 3 months time anyway (as an example). Third, the PR storm that this silly idea is going to bring is worth its weight in gold considering the free publicity on the Internet from the re-tweeting and re-posting of the story.

That said, the privacy concerns related to this issue is crazy, especially considering how desperate companies are to collect information about you. First it's your heart rate - next thing you know they'll want to monitor your urine and DNA in real-time so they can add any anomalies to their 'pre-existing conditions' check list.