Insurance firms getting in on fitness tracking

Insurance firms are all about their data. They love the stuff, the more they have of it, the better than can understand their customers and generate more accurate risk profiles which allow them to be a little more gung-ho with their pricing. It’s why car insurers love telematics right now, as it gives them a huge advantage in figuring out who’s likely to cost them a lot of money.

With that in mind, it’s no real surprise that insurers are now looking to get in on the wearable action, not through it’s own wearable device, or by buying data from other companies, but by releasing their own health apps. That’s exactly what Bupa has done, in the hopes of competing with the likes of Apple and its contemporaries, by offering insurance discounts based on how healthy you are.

The app is called Bupa Boost and it can track data from smartphones or from wearables – or through manual input, which seems like it’s asking for abuse. However it isn’t aimed at users, but employers. Bupa positions it as an app that’s designed to allow companies to help their workers stay in better shape. As positive as a goal as that is, it sounds like it’s opening a can of worms with regards to discrimination.

Features of the app however are pretty typical, but with an emphasis on team work. While you can set personal goals, you can also team up with other people using the app to complete group challenges and to compare your stats from your latest activities to see who’s the best.

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Bupa also discussed the ability to connect with a virtual coach to give you tips and tricks on how to improve your performance and overall health.

“There are loads of health trackers out there, but they’re from digital companies, not healthcare providers,” he said. “We’re not competing in that space.”

However as the Telegraph points out, this isn’t just a push by Bupa to keep its customers from using its resources quite so much, it’s a push to stay relevant. The UK’s private healthcare market hasn’t really grown in recent years, despite expanding populations. It’s not seen as particularly relevant because of the NHS.

Bupa hopes that with this application and its new technological push, it will be able to sway more corporate clients, with employers taking on the task of keeping their employees healthy.

The question is, can Bupa, a non-technological firm, compete with the likes of Apple and others, in offering a product that remains effective, accurate and keeps with the times?

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