More Invasion of Privacy (for Reward Points)

Our friends at LSM Insurance pointed this one out already, but I figure I can “pile on” the subject, after I have already ranted about Car Insurance “Saving” Devices, I will allow myself another rant about how the words discretion and privacy are mostly dead in today’s society (and we are giving it away for alleged discounts and convenience).


This is my FitBit™

The topic (in question) is a new “Rewards” system that John Hancock Insurance (evidently a subsidiary of ManuLife) is offering a new rewards system for new Life Insurance policy holders ( A Vitality Rewards Program ), and with this new system you get a FitBit™. I have written about wanting a Financial FitBit™, but this Life Insurance idea is so ingenious (in a Dr. Evil kind of way) I am in awe.

The Financial Post has a wonderful article Ready to have a hissy Fit(bit) over health and reward points, but allow me to add in my 2 cents worth into this argument, the invasion of privacy that the company is perpetrating on their policy owners (with their permission) is a new level of “Data Incursions”.

The owners of the policies will get discounts, and bonuses for living a “healthy lifestyle” as monitored by their new FitBit™, which sounds wonderful (OK, it made flashing red lights go off in my head as soon as I read about it, but that is my paranoid view of life), but how is healthy being determined, and who legislates what is healthy behavior?

I use my fit bit to attempt to monitor my activity and to attempt to get back into shape (after along myself “go” a little), so here are a few things that I have figured out:

  • The heart monitoring on my FitBit™ Charge HR while useful is inaccurate (and I am fairly certain that FitBit™ says that somewhere in their marketing literature). I try to exercise on a stationary bike many times a week, and most times, while the heart monitor on the bike says my heart is pumping at 133 bpm, the FitBit™ says I am only at 85 bpm, but if I move it, suddenly it will jump to 105 bpm. My opinion is neither is that accurate, but it is interesting that the heart monitoring is a bit flakey.
  • The FitBit™ Charge HR will monitor your sleep, and it says my sleep patterns are lousy (my wife already told me this, so this is not news to me).
  • I walked down a country road a few weeks ago, and it counted my steps nicely, but because the road had a camber, and I kept moving from the hard to soft shoulders, it assumed I had gone up 24 flights of stairs?

These observations are not me complaining about the FitBit™, far from it. I think that it is an amazing data capture device, however, it is still early on with this technology, and I would assume later generations of the product will be even more accurate, and there lies the rub, this is incredibly important personal information about you. You will have a day by day view of your health, or at least parts of your health, but should you give that information away ?

Does John Hancock hand out FitBit™ Charge HRs? Don’t know, but from my point of view it really doesn’t matter, the data collected by them even from a simple FitBit™ is invasive, and will only continue to grow. When I got my FitBit™, I wondered whether (or when) FitBit™ would start selling the data they are collecting, evidently someone else thought of it first?

All of this to get a cheaper insurance rate? I think the price you are paying is too steep.

Oh and I did notice that the Apple Watch also Monitors  Heartbeats too? More helpful data collection about your every day living.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Syed Raza June 1, 2015, 11:17 AM

    Thanks for the mention BCM! Your post got me thinking about other pitfalls associated with the program. Not to be a Negative Nancy but insurance products have always been the weapon of choice for scammers, so in theory, couldn’t a policy holder just give his/her FitBit to a physically active/healthier friend or family member to wear to accumulate the rewards, all while the insured is sitting on the couch binge-watching #GoT and throwing back Twinkies?

    Not sure if the Fitbit has some way of knowing who is wearing it (which would make this even creepier).

    Thanks again for the article, very interested to see where these programs end up.

  • RICARDO June 1, 2015, 8:03 AM

    Of course this could lead to another revolutionary maovement!

    Can you imagine the “Throw a Fit movement” where people literally rip their Fit off and throw it? It might give new meaning to “I had a Fit today”

    People will be saying “this doesn’t Fit with my lifestyle”

    Or maybe another movement of “Fit for life – not for ManuLife”

    You may have started somethign here Canjun

    • bigcajunman June 1, 2015, 8:05 AM

      🙂 I just might, but as I said, I am not anti-FitBit, just the use of the data for nefarious reasons.

  • RICARDO June 1, 2015, 7:48 AM

    Good Mourning Cajun;
    ANy “loyalty” card tracks what you purchase. Just look at your VISA statement to see how they can separate our your purchasing habits. And that is very rudimentry.

    Now if ManLife wants to follow your life style by monitoring you whole day (wearing FitBit all day) that is a much more invasive monitoring of your life.
    I can only hope that those who willingly allow this take off there Fit when they get in to bed with the wife.. or get frisky any place else. Can you imagine ManLife calling you up asking why your heart rate jump uped so high on that run through the woods and you were not moving (advancing)??? WHy, we just wonlt be able to have nay more fun when we are up to it (sic).


    • bigcajunman June 1, 2015, 7:53 AM

      Exactly, or better still, if you take off your fitbit for a period every day, would they then ask, “Why are you doing this?”


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