Start sweating to save on bills

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Start sweating to save on bills

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It’s time to dust off the hiking boots.

Korean insurance companies are releasing new programs that reward healthy lifestyles with benefits starting this month. Health-related insurance products became popular in countries like the United States and Britain several years ago, but they are only debuting in Korea now due to recent changes to regulations.

The Korean arm of AIA Life Insurance took the lead as it drew on its experiences overseas with its health management program Vitality.

AIA’s Geoljak Vitality Cancer Cover, released on April 1, offers a 10 percent discount on insurance fees if a policyholder racks up 10,000 points on a step counting app.

To get the benefit, subscribers must download the Vitality app, which awards points based on users’ workouts. For example, 50 points are rewarded to users who walk 7,500 steps a day.

“It seems that many consumers pay attention to the new product because they can get rewards for being healthy, and it saves money at the same time,” said a public relations official at AIA Korea.

AIA’s rival ING Life Insurance will also offer incentives that encourage people to walk frequently, exercise more and get regular health checkups. The company will pay up to 500,000 won ($468.38) if a client walks 10,000 steps a day on average for a year.

Another notable feature is that subscribers to the Life Care CI Whole Life plan can get exemptions or discounts on monthly fees depending on the scores from their health checkups.

“We partnered with the National Fitness Award 100 program operated by the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation,” said Lee Ga-won, a spokesperson at ING Life Insurance. “The program measures people’s muscular strength, endurance and other physical capacities, and they will get benefits depending on the scores.”

The Korea Life Insurance Association, which represents life insurers operating in Korea, assigned exclusive rights for these health checkup-based incentive programs to ING for three months, which means that competitors may not release the same products during that period.

Domestic insurer Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance is taking a similar approach with its activity detection app Anyfit. The company will allow holders of certain policies to use its app, which provides points based on steps and exercises, in June.

The introduction of app-based health management insurance products became possible after Korea’s financial authorities amended rules and lifted restrictions in November.

The Financial Services Commission and the Financial Supervisory Service issued guidelines that allow insurers to offer benefits based on health management related activities.

Before the guideline, the law was vague on whether an insurer could sell a policy that was tied to a certain product or service.

The guideline still bans insurers from providing health-related devices.

Kyobo Life Planet and ABL Life Insurance signed a partnership with CashWalk to develop a health-related insurance product. CashWalk is an app that pays users to walk and has more than one million users.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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