John Hancock Introduces Variable Universal Life Insurance With Vitality

BOSTON, July 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — John Hancock today launched a new Protection variable universal life product, Protection VUL that offers significantly lower premiums and cash value growth potential, giving consumers the opportunity for affordable life insurance coverage that can help them meet their long-term financial objectives and pursue longer, healthier lives with the John Hancock Vitality program.

For the first time, Protection VUL policyholders can earn rewards and premium savings of up to 15 percent for the everyday things they do to stay healthy with the John Hancock Vitality program. In fact, the healthier their lifestyle, the greater their rewards, including $600 in annual savings on healthy food purchases1 as well as the opportunity to earn an Apple Watch® Series 2by exercising regularly. John Hancock is also giving every new policyholder a complimentary Fitbit® device to help them get started.

“At John Hancock, we’re focused on providing consumers with innovative solutions designed to help meet a variety of financial planning needs,” said Brooks Tingle, senior vice president, Marketing and Strategy, John Hancock Insurance. “By expanding the John Hancock Vitality offerings to include Protection VUL, we can help many more consumers better prepare for the future, while also supporting them as they take steps to lead longer, healthier lives,” said Tingle.

Protection VUL is designed for pre-retirees, and features strong death benefit protection along with cash value accumulation potential that can offer consumers flexibility to help them meet future financial goals. Policyholders can also choose from a diversified range of underlying investment accounts that represent nearly every major asset class and investment style.

The new Protection VUL offers additional attractive features including LifeTrack, John Hancock’s quick, easy and dynamic policy management solution to help clients and advisors ensure life insurance policies stay on track to meet their intended insurance goals.

About John Hancock and Manulife

John Hancock is a division of Manulife, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, our group of companies offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Assets under management and administration by Manulife and its subsidiaries were $1 trillion (US $754 billion) as at March 31, 2017. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘945’ on the SEHK. Manulife can be found on the Internet at

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, investments,  401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at

Variable universal life insurance has annual fees and expenses associated with it in addition to life insurance related charges (which differ with the product chosen), including surrender charges and investment management fees. Variable universal life insurance products are long-term contracts and are sold by prospectus.  They are subject to market risk due to the underlying sub-accounts, and are unsuitable as a short term savings vehicle. The primary purpose of variable universal life insurance is to provide lifetime protection against economic loss due to the death of the insured person.  Cash values are not guaranteed if the client is invested in the investment accounts.  There are risks associated with each investment option, and the policy may lose value.

Please contact 1-800-827-4546 to obtain product and fund prospectuses (for New York, contact 1-877-391-3748, option 4).  The prospectuses contains complete details on investment objectives, risks, fees, charges and expenses as well as other information about the investment company. Please read the prospectuses carefully containing this and other information on the product and the underlying portfolios and consider these factors carefully before investing.

1. HealthyFood savings are based on qualifying purchases and may vary based on the terms of the John Hancock Vitality program.

2. Apple Watch Series 2 can be ordered for an initial payment of $25 plus tax and over the next two years, monthly payments are based on the number of workouts completed. An iPhone 5 or later is required to use Apple Watch Series 2. The Retail Installment Agreement with the Vitality Group will need to be signed electronically at checkout. Apple is not a participant in or sponsor of this promotion. Apple Watch is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Please note: Apple Watch Series 2 program is not available in New York.

Insurance policies and/or associated riders and features may not be available in all states. Some riders may have additional fees and expenses associated with them.

Vitality is the provider of the John Hancock Vitality Program in connection with the life insurance policy and Healthy Engagement Rider.

John Hancock Vitality Program rewards and discounts are only available to the person insured under the eligible life insurance policy. Rewards and discounts are subject to change and are not guaranteed to remain the same for the life of the policy.

Premium savings are in comparison to the same John Hancock policy without the Vitality program. Annual premium savings will vary based upon policy type, the terms of the policy, and the level of the insured’s participation in the John Hancock Vitality program.



Latest Research: Banking And Insurance To Double Spending On Blockchain

Recently surveyed senior executives in the banking and insurance industries plan to more than double their investments in blockchain technology by 2019. The SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, is based on feedback from over 3,000 senior executives across 17 countries and regions. The research spotlights the performance of “digital leaders” – organizations that are connecting people, things and businesses intelligently and effectively to create change faster than the competition.

Smart contracts simplify insurance

Personalized smart contracts for travel insurance may be among the first blockchain use cases to emerge in the insurance industry.

To find out more, I talked with Robert Cummings, Global Head of Core Insuranceat SAP. He said that while insurance companies currently have more questions than answers about blockchain, many are beginning to explore innovations such as smart contracts. These contracts connect real-time information from multiple systems across physical things, documents and activities, triggering processes like claims, payment and reimbursement faster and potentially with greater accuracy.

Cummings thinks personalized smart contracts will be among the first blockchain use cases to emerge in the insurance industry. He reasoned that personalized travel insurance is simple, because everyone involved is these transactions is well-known and all the processes are connected to readily available information – someone books a flight, it’s known which aircraft and airline they’re flying on, and there are a relatively finite number of variables surrounding a flight cancellation such as a change in the traveler’s plans, weather or aircraft issues.

“In the future, smart contracts will connect with other systems, so if you buy travel insurance and your flight is canceled you’re automatically reimbursed without having to file a claim, and you can be offered a new trip or other related services,” he said. “Smart contracts on the blockchain have a life of their own, taking care of themselves as events occur.”

Cross-industry disruption from hyper-connectivity

Traditional insurers are busy searching for ways blockchain will deliver the greatest business value, and so they should. For example, insurers will likely need to rethink the role of claims adjusters who won’t be required to manage reimbursement in the same way when smart contracts are in place. A larger question is how blockchain providers could disintermediate insurance companies as we know them today. What’s more, it’s impossible to know at this point the tremendous upheaval blockchain portends for many industries that will become even more connected.

Jack Shaw, Executive Director of the American Blockchain Council, thinks blockchain will trigger a revolutionary change in how business operates in many industries, like the invention of the printing press, followed twenty years later by the double-entry bookkeeping system, both of which helped spark global trade and the Renaissance.

“Unlike innovations such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence and IoT, which tend to be applied at a specific process point or physical location for targeted improvements, blockchain uniquely ties together the transformation of an entire digital ecosystem, pulling together the benefits of all these innovations for every participant in the network because they can share and trust the same data,” said Shaw. “Everything about our economy and society is becoming increasingly more collaborative and interactive, crossing organizational boundaries,” said Shaw. “That’s why blockchain is so transformational. It will change things as much in the next 50 years as the printing press did in the last 500 years.”


How to Compromise on Health Care

Progressives are understandably breathing a sigh of relief following the Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare and replace it with legislation that would have scaled back health-insurance coverage. But they shouldn’t be too comfortable in their victory — it’s temporary.

President Donald Trump has threatened not to support the Affordable Care Act. If the Trump administration decides not to make critical payments to insurers, or stops enforcing the tax penalty for people who don’t buy insurance, the law could be in serious trouble. And even if the administration continues to support Obamacare’s success, progressives should be clear that the law still needs improvements to ensure that premiums don’t continue to increase at an unsustainable rate, and that households in all parts of the country continue to have access to insurance through the individual market.

What’s needed to move forward? Republicans and Democrats working together.

A major problem with the Affordable Care Act is the way it was passed: on a party-line vote, without support from a single Republican. This made the law vulnerable and created uncertainty about its future among market participants. The unsuccessful GOP repeal-and-replace efforts have been just as divisive. For a policy change of this magnitude to be lasting and stable, it should have at least some bipartisan support.

President Barack Obama’s lasting health-care legacy is winning the fight over whether universal coverage is the right goal. Mr. Obama was correct that it is, and as I’ve argued recently, conservatives should agree. But what is needed to get us there in best way? Let me outline a few corollary goals.

Universal coverage should be pursued in a way that is affordable, both to households and to the government, and that helps lower the trajectory of health-care costs overall. It should lead to higher-quality medical care, to make being insured attractive to households, and should encourage innovation, productivity, and technological progress in the health-care sector. It should encourage young and healthy people to be covered in order to balance the risk pool facing insurers, making it attractive for insurers to offer insurance. It should ensure that even the hard-to-cover are insured.

To achieve these goals, both conservatives and progressives are going to have to give ideological ground.

Conservatives in Congress have already given quite a bit. For example, even the most hard-line conservatives in the House voted in favor of the federal government providing subsidies to low-income households to help them purchase health insurance.

But congressional Republicans will have to go further. Subsidies for low-income households need to be generous enough to make insurance against catastrophic medical expenses affordable. Republicans shouldn’t try to cut taxes as part of health reform. And Republicans should accept that we need a robust health-insurance safety net that covers all citizens living in poverty or living with medical conditions that will make insurance prohibitively expensive.

This will involve accepting a larger role for Medicaid than existed before Obamacare, and adequately funding high-risk pools for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions who won’t have access to affordable coverage. It’ll also mean making room for regulation requiring that as long as individuals maintain insurance coverage, they can move from employer coverage to the individual market without being charged higher premiums due to medical conditions.

Progressives have to travel further than this. In order to achieve the goals I laid out, they need to accept that catastrophic health-insurance coverage still counts as coverage. The social problem we face occurs when uninsured individuals get seriously sick or injured, and can’t afford their treatment. Those costs get passed on to the rest of us. The policy solution, then, should focus on the problem of individuals not being insured against very high medical costs — not on insuring for preventative care, or against your annual sinus infection.

In order to encourage the appropriate levels of innovation and productivity, progressives must accept that health insurance — and the market for medical services generally — is too heavily regulated. Obamacare removes choice and options in the individual health-insurance market by specifying what has to be included in insurance plans. In addition, the law’s individual mandate penalizing people who don’t buy insurance is too weak to be effective — but a stronger mandate is both politically untenable and undesirable. So progressives should ditch the mandate and accept another way to encourage young and healthy individuals to be covered: auto-enrollment with an opt-out.

In order to put health-care costs on a sustainable trajectory, progressives must accept that Medicaid, the current health safety net for the poor, needs to change its financing system — in which the federal government matches a share of state spending. They also must accept that market discipline is needed. Catastrophic events are hard to foresee and hard for households to afford, but households should be more exposed to the actual costs of routine care.

Given the current political atmosphere in Washington, I wouldn’t bet on success anytime soon. But these are the right goals, and after the Obama-Trump years, we’ve learned that a bipartisan effort to define universal coverage sensibly and then put it into effect is needed to ensure long-term stability for health policy.



Budget 2017: Treat managed healthcare and health insurance premium at par

The Finance Minister during the heady days of demonetization announced a hefty 8 percent and 10 percent rebates respectively for life and general insurance premiums paid digitally to the state-owned insurance companies. But this will in all likelihood benefit the urban middle class by and large because they are ones in whose conscience the idea of insurance is embedded. In others, first there must be an awakening about the need for insurance. Farmers know a bit about crop insurance. But that is about all.

The joke doing the rounds in the last decade of the last century was private insurers advertised but the state-owned LIC rode piggyback on such ads. Indeed, LIC has become the byword for life insurance in the country. At the same time, it is equally true that the insurance penetration is abysmally low in the country—about 6 percent of the population. Insurance companies need a special tax break—a weighted deduction of may be 150 percent must be allowed for campaign expenses so that insurance awareness and penetration increase.

Youngsters are incentivized to insure their parents by section 80D of the Income tax Act with a special and additional Rs 30,000 deduction if even one of the parents is a senior citizen.  Otherwise, they have to settle for Rs 25,000.  However, with longevity improving and the tribe of very senior citizens (80 years and more) growing, it is not only parents who need to be insured but great grandparents as well.

The government should allow a special deduction for those who take care of their great grandparents as well. The limit of Rs 25,000 or Rs 30,000 per family is too restrictive and treats small and large families alike. The limit rather should be per person.

Geriatric Medicare indeed needs special attention. Not only do hospitals need to have a separate department and facilities for them (geriatrics), but insurers should also be persuaded to look into the health insurance needs of the elderly more sympathetically. As it is, the premium for senior citizens is very high. Either the government should bear part of the premium payable on the lives of senior citizens or it should allow geriatric claims settled a special tax treatment—-by way of say 150 percent weighted deduction or treat it as passing muster under the mandatory CSR (corporate social responsibility) spend.

Health insurance ought not to be viewed strictly as an insurance business. In the USA, hospitals too double in as insurers by offering schemes under which one can pay an annual payment akin to premium and get treatment in the hospital should the misfortune of ill-health strike. This should be encouraged in our country also. It is known as managed Medicare. People rush to the hospital close to their homes in case of emergency. Even otherwise, proximity is a factor in the choice of a hospital one goes to. Why not allow large hospitals to offer managed Medicare services?

To wit, one should be allowed to pay Rs 5,000 per person in the family to a hospital by way of one-time payment at the beginning of the year. And the hospital would be bound to treat the patient without charging any more amount should he fall ill. The disadvantage is one would be tied to a particular hospital unlike in health insurance where he has a slew of hospitals to choose from. Furthermore, with super-specialty hospitals springing up, there could be some hesitation in plumping for general hospitals offering managed Medicare. Nevertheless, the idea must be taken forward if only to rein in pure-play general insurance companies.

The animus between hospitals and insurers would also incidentally end when managed Medicare takes roots in the country. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that hospitals offering managed Medicare may be less than exacting in treating its patients who have paid a pittance especially when the treatment is expensive or prolonged.

Budget 2017 should give parity of treatment to managed healthcare at par with health insurance premium even at the risk of angering insurance companies which may resent intrusion into their turf by hospitals.



Airbnb Is Popular, but Renting Out Your Car? That’s Another Story

On any given holiday weekend, there might be a million people paying to stay in rooms in somebody’s house or putting their whole family up at private homes. Airbnb helps many of those travelers and is now a household name.

But personal vehicles, which are also near the top of the list of many people’s most expensive assets, are even more underused than homes. Most people don’t drive more than two hours a day, after all. So why isn’t there a globe-straddling colossus on the tip of our tongues that puts millions of privately owned vehicles into a part-time rental pool?

Early in the decade, it looked as though RelayRides might become that company. Since then, however, two people have died in crashes involving vehicles on its rental platform. In New York, the state authorities have effectively evicted the company. And RelayRides has changed its name to Turo, given that it doesn’t offer rides the same way Lyft and Uber do.

A competitor called Getaround is also competing for cars and drivers. “Put your idle car to work,” its website boasts. “Earn $10,000 a year.”

Never heard of either business? Let’s review the history, because — as mixed as it is — they’re still in business and continue to attract investments from the likes of Kleiner Perkins and Toyota. And even after crashes, some car owners put their vehicles right back up for rent once they come back from the body shop.

In 2012, I wrote a column in which a number of insurance companies expressed deep skepticism about customers putting their cars into a rental pool. In that article, I quoted a statement from RelayRides in which the company said it had been operating successfully in Massachusetts even without any legislation — like the kind that exists in California, Oregon and Washington — that would generally keep insurers from dropping your personal coverage as punishment for putting your car up for rent. Those Massachusetts operations had gone on for two years “without any problems” relating to lost insurance, RelayRides said.

Except there was already a problem in the state that the company did not tell me about at the time: a fatal accident that killed the man who rented a car and turned into an insurance nightmare for the vehicle’s owner. In a follow-up column, I told the story of Liz Fong-Jones, who had put her car up for rent, and the four people who were injured when their vehicle was struck by the man who had rented the car (and who died). The subsequent lawsuits and claims threatened to eclipse the $1 million in liability coveragethat RelayRides provides people who put their cars on the platform. (Getaround has a similar insurance policy.)

Eventually, all of the legal cases settled without breaching the $1 million barrier, though the lawyers I reached this week said that the terms of the agreements kept them from saying much. In late 2013, RelayRides published a blog post making the case that its insurance is actually better than what most people buy for themselves.

Earlier that year, however, the New York State Department of Financial Services published a “Scam Alert” warning people away from the company. In a consent order, the Financial Frauds and Consumer Protection Division said that RelayRides had acted as an unlicensed insurance adjuster and producer, misrepresented the coverage it provided and most likely led many people to violate their leasing and finance agreements. The company no longer does business in New York, and Getaround does not have cars in the state either.

RelayRides changed its name to Turo in 2015. Today it claims nearly 150,000 cars on its platform, which includes many vehicles at airports, though it declined to describe how active those owners are. Getaround would not disclose exact numbers, except to say that there are thousands of cars in its major urban markets. It counts owners who have made their cars available in the past month.

That’s not nothing, but putting your car in a rental pool is clearly far from a reflex for the vast majority of people. Some of this is practical, since if you commute each day, it may not be easy for a renter to get to your car when you’re at the office. On the weekends, most people want flexibility for leisure, errands and family rides. Also, while homeowners have been taking in boarders for centuries, the possibility of effectively turning your vehicle into a Zipcar wouldn’t have occurred to most people until the first Zipcar appeared in 2000.

A search of the internet and court filings suggests some other potential problems. In the comments on a first-person blog post on Travel Codexabout car theft and Turo, I found Ryan Root. He put a Jaguar on the Turo platform last year, and told me in an interview that it was damaged three times (and totaled once) during 29 rentals in Bayonne, N.J.

Because of “limited availability,” said a Turo spokesman, Steve Webb, no one was available to talk to me on the phone. He said via email that less than 1 percent of Turo rentals result in damage.

One of Turo’s own insurance partners filed suit in federal court last year over another death. In that instance, a Turo vehicle struck another car and killed its driver in Smyrna, Ga. Brian Lewis, a lawyer representing a passenger in the Turo vehicle, said that the Turo renter was not the person actually behind the wheel, and that the suit would resolve the question of whether Turo’s insurance ought to cover that situation. (The lawyers for the insurance company did not respond to a request for comment.)

In an email, Mr. Webb said that the Turo vehicle in the Smyrna accident had been stolen, that the insurance company does not believe it owes coverage to a criminal, and that the coverage would indeed protect the car owner. He declined to provide overall theft figures, though he did say that it was “extraordinarily rare.”

A spokeswoman for Getaround, Jacqueline Tanzella, said that its rate of recovered cars from in-trip thefts was 100 percent.

Given all of the above, why would anyone want to risk putting a car on these platforms? According to Turo, the money can be irresistible, especially for Tesla and other owners who might otherwise not be able to afford the vehicle. Tesla itself is looking to help its owners rent out their cars through what it refers to as a “shared fleet.” Getaround allows owners to funnel their rental revenue directly to Lexus and Mercedes-Benz to cover their own payments.

Even Mr. Root is willing to give Turo a fourth chance if he replaces his car after the three accidents. While he found the company difficult to deal with after the damage occurred, he was often making twice as much from renting it out as the car cost in monthly lease payments, at least until it was totaled.

“I’m a businessman, and I want to leverage my assets and generate income from as many sources as possible,” he said. “The concept and platform is ingenious, and when it’s working, it works well.”

Ms. Fong-Jones told a similar story when I talked with her in 2012 about her replacement car. Continuing to rent out her idle vehicle — even after the fatal accident — was environmentally responsible, she said. It could also help fellow dog owners who had trouble finding car rentals because of no-pet clauses. She was named in multiple lawsuits relating to the accident, however, and her insurance company dropped her.

Ms. Fong-Jones no longer owns a car, but before she let her last one go, she yanked it from the rental pool after all. It was no longer there, she reported via Google+ in 2015, “on advice of my attorney.”