Insurance companies bribe customers to exercise with Apple Watch

More than a year since its original watch was announced, Apple held an event in San Francisco earlier this month to launch the next generation of its popular device. The Apple Watch Series 2 delivers solid improvements over its predecessor, including water proofing up to 50 metres, on-board GPS, a 50% faster Duel-Core processor, a better display and a few other updates.

Essential reading: Apple unveils swim-friendly Apple Watch 2 Series

Starting at $369 the watch is not exactly cheap. You can purchase a Fitbit or another fitness tracker at less than half that price. There may, however, be another way to get your hands on Apple’s newest gadget.

Aetna, a large US health coverage company, announced it will start offering cut-price Apple Watches to some of its customers beginning this fall. It will then let customers cover the remainder via monthly payroll deductions.

“We look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days,” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in a statement.

As part of the offer, Aetna is also working on launching its own suite of health-tracking apps for the smartwatch. The aim is to provide their customers with easy access to medical professionals and help them manage prescriptions and medicine intake.

To the delight of its employees, the company also announced it will give a free watch to any of its 50,000 staff that participate in the company’s own wellness plans.

Meanwhile across the pond, a UK health insurer has become the first offer its customers the Apple Watch if they commit to exercising regularly.

Vitality plans to sign up its insurance customers to an Apple Watch for only £69 each but they must pay back the remaining discounted value of the purchase price by reaching exercise goals over a 24 month period. This includes walking at least 10,000 steps every day or undertaking more vigorous exercise, on 20 days a month.

“Encouraging our members to be active is integral to the Vitality program – being active has a profound positive effect on a person’s health and productivity, and also leads people to improve other lifestyle behaviours, such as nutrition,” said Vitality CEO Neville Koopowitz.

“Through our Active Rewards benefit, where we link immediate incentives to the achievement of short-term physical activity goals, we have seen significant increases in the amount of activity our members are doing and, importantly, many previously sedentary members have now become active.”

But customers have been warned not to try and cheat. They could even be charged with insurance fraud!

“It’s like telling the insurer you’ve got a two-bed house, and then when it burns down it turns out it had six bedrooms. At the very least it’s enough to invalidate your claim,” said Andrew Kail, UK financial services leader at PwC.

The original Apple Watch has received mixed reactions since its launch last year. The latest figures from IDC show that Apple has lost some of its share of the global wearables market in recent months. The new watch delivers solid improvements over the original device, but only time will tell whether this is enough for Apple to begin closing in on Fitbit.

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