How Canadians can save money and earn rewards by making healthy choices

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More and more people are thinking proactively about their well-being. For some, taking control is in response to deficiencies in the health care system that were laid bare during a once-in-a-century pandemic.

A new Leger Marketing Inc. survey found that 86 per cent of Canadians are worried about the state of the health care system in their province, wary of barriers like wait times and busy emergency rooms.

Living through a public health crisis has also played a part in making people more mindful about their health and how quickly it can change.

A 2022 Accenture PLC survey of consumers in 16 countries, including Canada, found 80 per cent considered health and fitness to be essential; they are expected to maintain or increase their spending on everything from exercise classes to vitamins. Furthermore, a recent Manulife survey found that 60 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they’ve changed their lifestyle in some way because of the pandemic, and 36 per cent place a greater priority on having life insurance.

“The pandemic has had a significant impact on the health and wellness of Canadians. In our surveys, we’re seeing that around half of Canadians surveyed realize the importance of preventive health care1,” says Paul Savage, head of individual insurance for Manulife Canada.

As Canadians look to take their wellness into their own hands, there are also opportunities for their advisors to play a more prominent part in helping them do so.

Enter Manulife Vitality®, a health and wellness program that combines life insurance with a technology-enabled program offering education, support, and incentives.

Policyholders can collect Vitality Points™ by signing in on an app and recording healthy lifestyle choices such as exercising, eating well, getting a flu shot and going to the dentist. Then, they can redeem points for rewards and discounts from partners like Fitbit, HelloFresh, Amazon, Expedia Group and Apple. Policyholders can also get a break on their premiums2 – up to 15 per cent off – depending on their status within the program and the type of policy held.

That’s a win for clients and for advisors too. Insurance is usually viewed in terms of protection if life circumstances change. So much of insurance discussions revolve around financial risks and the possibilities of death and disability – things that people usually don’t like to consider.

By introducing Manulife Vitality, advisors can set themselves apart. A program that focuses on the benefits of healthy living shifts the conversation with clients and creates more positive and personalized interactions with an insurance product.

“We see a halo effect going toward the advisor, with people who purchased a policy with the Manulife Vitality program saying they’re much happier with their advisor than people who purchased traditional policies3,” Mr. Savage says.

With traditional programs, clients think of their policy around once a month, when it’s time to pay the bill. Manulife Vitality users interact with their policy 22 times a month, on average, logging their daily activities and checking their points4. There are constant reminders of the product’s value, which is more good news for advisors.

“The role of the advisor has evolved, so it’s not just about picking the right insurance product anymore,” Mr. Savage said. “People want more comprehensive solutions from their advisors and a deeper client-advisor relationship.”

He notes that Manulife Vitality has its roots in the field of behavioral economics – a mix of economics and psychology that’s designed to understand and influence a person’s conduct.

“In a lot of cases, we know the right things to do, but it’s harder to do them in practice. However, there are ways to nudge and incentivize people to do what will be better for them by implementing some of the behavioral sciences,” Mr. Savage says.

He points out that part of the power of the program is that it stacks up short-, medium- and long-term incentives. People earn points right away, they can get a status upgrade and rewards at the end of the year and, most importantly, can see results like lower cholesterol or better blood pressure that can help lead to a healthier life5.

“Vitality not only incentivizes people to make positive changes, it can also help guide them through health reviews and a health check, and get them started on that health and wellness journey,” Mr. Savage says.

He points to the demonstrated health improvements5 among Manulife Vitality users. Specifically, 11 per cent improved their body mass index into a healthy range, 23 per cent did so with their cholesterol, 28 per cent with their glucose readings and 29 per cent with their blood pressure.

For advisors, the nature of the program can also naturally spur discussions with clients about new hobbies or interests beyond talks about policy needs. Mr. Savage says the rewards themselves can also create more opportunities for positive referral conversations from clients.

“People standing around at a barbecue aren’t necessarily going to have a conversation about their insurance policies. But they may show off their new Apple Watch and then start talking about how they got it with their Manulife Vitality rewards. It just leads to many more situations in which those referral conversations can happen.”

Manulife’s data reveals that Vitality members are far more likely to retain their policy6 and to refer their advisors to family and friends7.

Advisors also report how Manulife Vitality has had a positive impact on their business8. Two-thirds say it allows them to grow their practice by reaching new markets and to differentiate their practice from the competition. More than half of advisors believe Manulife Vitality improves client retention and three-quarters say it provides them with new opportunities to interact with clients.

All that makes for a product that can boost healthy lifestyles – and in so doing change the traditional client-advisor relationship.

You can learn more about the Manulife Vitality program here.

1Manulife Omnibus survey, April 2023

2Only applicable to Family Term with VitalityPlus & Manulife Universal Life with VitalityPlus. Manulife Par VitalityPlus customers have the potential to earn a Vitality dividend each year, based on their Vitality StatusTM

3Internal data comparing Canada Insurance tNPS with Canada Insurance Vitality tNPS, 2022.

4Manulife Vitality dashboard report, The Vitality Group, 2022.

5Program member data as of February 2021.

6Vitality-elected policies have a 50% lower lapse rate than non-Vitality-elected policies. Lapse rates are weighted by face amount and data is covering policies in years 1-5.

7Manulife rNPS, Ipsos, Q2 2022

8Manulife individual Insurance Advisor, Environics Research, July 2022

Insurance products are issued by The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company. The Vitality Group Inc., in association with The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, provides the Manulife Vitality program. The Manulife Vitality program is available with select policies. Vitality, Vitality Points and Vitality Status are trademarks of Vitality Group International Inc., and are used by The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and its affiliates under license. Manulife & Stylized M Design, and Stylized M Design are trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it, and by its affiliates under license. Accessible formats and communication supports are available upon request. Visit for more information. © 2023 The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company. All rights reserved. The logos and other identifying marks attached are trademarks of and owned by each represented company and/or its affiliates. Please visit each company’s website for additional terms and conditions.

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Manulife. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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