LIfe insurer Manulife will begin distributing Apple Watches for the first time this year, and its subisidiary John Hancock will expand an existing program to millions of eligible customers.

Participants of Vitality, a health-rewards program in use by both insurers, will receive an Apple Watch Series 1, Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS or Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS and Cellular device. The intention is to reward policyholders with heavily-discounted wearables for keeping active, with the goal of reducing mortality risk among customers while keeping a communication channel open.

John Hancock first began offering Apple devices to permanent life insurance policyholders last year. Now, existing lower-cost term Vitality customers and prospective clients can both earn new Apple Watch Series 3 devices for $25 beginning next month. Participants failing to meet monthly workout goals over a fixed two-year period will be subject to pay the full $299 retail price in monthly installments, according to CNBC.

John Hancock says only half of existing customers with Apple Watches fail to meet monthly exercise goals. Additionally, early users have embraced the technology, increasing weekly physical activity by up to 20%, according to SVP of marketing and strategy Brooks Tingle.

"The addition of the Apple Watch program to our John Hancock Vitality solution over the past year has already resulted in an increase in participating customers' activities and engagement as compared to other [devices] in our program,” Tingle said, in a statement. "Customers of all kinds are signing up for the Apple Watch program, from those less healthy to those who are extremely fit."

Customer views Apple Watch Series 3 devices on display.
Customer views Apple Watch Series 3 devices on display. Bloomberg

John Hancock and Manulife Vitality, launched in 2015 and 2016, respectively, enable customers to earn savings on premiums while earning discounts on healthy food purchases, entertainment and travel.

"By offering Apple Watch, we are helping Canadians be active and live healthier today, while aiming to protect their financial future," said Michael Doughty, president and COO of Manulife.

Tal Gilbert, CEO of Vitality group USA, added, “The data from U.S. Apple Watch users is encouraging. We've motivated Vitality members to be more active, with the number of active days per week increasing by 40%. Not only have we seen people getting more active, we've seen the largest increases in the most at-risk populations.”

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