3 min read October 2023 — In an interview with Invest:, Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock, discussed the company’s accomplishments in Greater Boston, and the impact of its John Hancock Vitality Program on healthier lifestyles and industry challenges.
What have been the significant accomplishments for John Hancock in the Greater Boston region?
It’s an honor for me to lead this historic 161-year-old institution that combines our financial strength, trustworthiness, expertise, reliability, and resilience with innovative, strategic thinking and all the best aspects of the modern digital economy.
One of our most recent accomplishments, which continues to grow and evolve, is the introduction of the John Hancock Vitality Program, where we engage customers in living longer, healthier, better lives. That is a dramatic shift for a life insurance company when you think about it. By participating in healthy activities like staying active, keeping up with routine, preventative care or getting good sleep each night, our customers can earn points that determine their status in the program. Each status correlates to a level of rewards which may include premium savings, free or discounted fitness devices, savings at top retailers and discounted hotel stays. Our goal is to make life insurance more about living and to deliver value to our customers throughout the life of their policies.
Program offerings continuously grow and evolve with science and technology. In 2022, we introduced GRAIL’s Galleri multi-cancer early detection test, which can screen for more than 50 types of cancer. Offering the Galleri test to eligible John Hancock Vitality customers has led to life-saving discoveries.
That commitment to helping people live longer, healthier, better lives, extends beyond our company to the greater community, particularly the City of Boston. Boston has the potential to become the center of a thriving longevity economy. It is home to some of the best educational and healthcare institutions, as well as leading tech and innovation companies — not to mention the number of financial services firms, like us, with roots in Boston. The potential for collaboration to drive longevity innovation is very exciting. We’re actively working towards bringing this vision of making Boston a hub of longevity to life.
In what ways have the gamification features of the John Hancock Vitality Program motivated individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles?
People can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars on their premiums over the life of their policy through the program, depending on the size of their policy. However, the aspect that receives the most positive feedback is a feature called the Vitality Wheel. When you complete your 10th workout within a specific time frame — whether that’s a 10,000 daily step count or a gym visit — you receive a prompt, and when you open the app on your phone you can digitally spin the wheel. Prizes include things like a $5 Starbucks gift card or a $10 Amazon voucher. They may not be life-changing rewards, but people genuinely get excited about this game. It’s instant gratification for taking small steps towards better health. Additionally, we have a monthly digital game called Healthy Squares, where you can uncover either a healthy or unhealthy food item. The more healthy foods you uncover, the more points you earn. Gamification and the incentives we offer have a remarkable impact on people and our customers love it.
What challenges does the industry face and what strategies are you considering to address them and seize potential opportunities?
The insurance industry, particularly life insurance, should actively promote longer, healthier, better lives. Historically, we issued policies and hoped for positive outcomes without taking action. This is why I am passionate about driving change within John Hancock and throughout the entire life insurance sector.
Our challenge lies in the industry’s slow adoption of this philosophy. I am now involved in discussions around hunger and food-related issues where we historically didn’t have a seat at the table, but we can and should be more actively engaged. COVID-19 highlighted the limitations in reaching a wider consumer base. Many COVID-related deaths occurred among individuals without life insurance coverage, urging us to expand our reach to more Americans.
We must convey the importance of life insurance without instilling fear. While it’s crucial to address these challenges, I also want to share a positive story. At a career fair, a young man approached me after I shared some remarks and I thought he was going to ask about job opportunities. Instead, he thanked me. His father had been hesitant to get life insurance but was encouraged by his advisor to purchase a John Hancock policy. He passed months later, and his decision to get life insurance allowed this young man and his brother to attend college. Those are the stories that really matter.
We aim to make life insurance more accessible and enjoyable through programs like John Hancock Vitality. It’s about engaging in fun activities while demonstrating the value the policy has during the customer’s life, shifting the perception of life insurance beyond just financial security.
What key partnerships help John Hancock contribute to the Boston community?
We have significant partnerships in Boston that are vital to our work. One such partnership is with the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Along with collaborating with their experts on panels, webinars, and other educational opportunities, we are also able to offer our customers a complimentary copy of the Tufts Nutrition newsletter each month.
Another important partnership is with the MIT AgeLab. They focus on longevity and the implications of people living longer. Their research covers various aspects, such as future homes with health-sensor technology and simulations involving autonomous vehicles. This partnership provides valuable insights and collaboration that are helping us shape the future of our company by better understanding what our customers will need.
I’ve also been fostering close relationships with the City of Boston and the Commonwealth. We work together to address challenges. For example, traffic and transportation infrastructure, including the subway system, are significant areas of focus. We also engage with leaders from other companies in the community. Boston has many exceptional global leaders in various industries, and we are always seeking new ways to collaborate and leverage our collective expertise.
Additionally, we have our MLK Scholars Program, providing summer jobs, financial education, and professional development opportunities to Boston youth. Since 2008, we have invested over $16 million in funding the program, benefiting more than 6,000 students. This summer, in partnership with the City of Boston, we sponsored the employment of hundreds of Boston teens at John Hancock and other worksites. The program creates long-term employment opportunities and introduces diverse student populations to potential career paths.
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