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24 Sep, 2020

Life Insurance Industry Invests In Cognitive Health To Tackle Future Of Aging

This announcement says that the insurance industry is moving “towards serving the whole person — from heart disease and diabetes prevention to stress management, and, now, cognitive health.” In other words, prevention is better than cure to bolster profits. A holistic approach is essential, and early warnings are imperative. Same formula could be applied to solving problems afflicting Travel & Tourism.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., 21 September 2020, PRNewswire – World Alzheimer’s Day – As populations continue to age globally, life insurance companies and their customers have been increasingly affected by the rising numbers of Alzheimer’s disease. To prepare for future aging populations and how to best serve them, insurers are investing for the first time in digital assessment technologies that will enable policyholders to manage and track their cognitive health.

Cognitive health is the ability to clearly think, learn, and remember. Functions such as motor skills, emotional responses, and sensory responses indicate a resilience to neuropathological damage. Genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors are all thought to influence cognition and health.

An announcement today by Neurotrack, a digital health company, and Hannover Life Reassurance Company of America (Hannover Re US), a member of Hannover Re Group, the third largest reinsurance group in the world, signals how the industry is turning to digital technology to benefit insurers and policyholders by changing the future of aging. 

Neurotrack is announcing a partnership with Hannover Re US to offer Neurotrack’s clinically-validated cognitive health program to the life insurance market for use by their policyholders. The partnership between Neurotrack and Hannover Re US is the first of its kind in the United States, following Neurotrack’s successful rollout with Japanese life insurers SOMPO Himawari Life and Dai-ichi Life, which offer Neurotrack’s digital cognitive assessment to policyholders as part of their new dementia insurance offering.

The announcement — coinciding with World Alzheimer’s Day — supports the insurance industry’s movement towards serving the whole person — from heart disease and diabetes prevention to stress management, and, now, cognitive health. Early assessment, detection and lifestyle interventions have reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s for patients by as much as 33% in numerous studies, beginning with the groundbreaking FINGER study in 2015 and now being further developed in multiple world-wide studies. An August 2020 report in the Lancet identifies the 12 modifiable risk factors that could be addressed to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s by 40%.

“Hannover Re has officially collaborated with Neurotrack, who has spent the last eight years solving one of the more pressing hurdles in insurance: how to accurately administer a cognitive assessment and help individuals monitor and manage their cognitive health,” said Kevin Oldani, SVP and chief underwriter, Hannover Re US. “In a world that has become almost entirely digital, insurance underwriting still heavily relies on paper and pencil processes that take the average applicant 12 weeks to apply. Insurance companies that are dynamic enough to improve their customer experience by digitizing assessments that streamline the underwriting process will ultimately win.”

The commercialization of Neurotrack’s cognitive health program has been in place since 2018 in Japan, which, as the oldest average-age population in the industrialized world, has the highest rate of Alzheimer’s cases and is facing the challenge of caring for a nation of “superagers.” The results of early detection and intervention there were documented in a 2019 pilot.

Those results have now been expanded with new data. Early findings show that the highest rate of participation in Neurotrack’s digital cognitive assessment was with policyholders in their 40s, decades younger than the average age of people with Alzheimers. In fact, more policyholders ages 20-49 took Neurotrack’s “brain check-up” than did policyholders ages 50 and older. The data suggests that given an accessible and accurate method of testing, younger people are keenly interested in understanding and maintaining their cognitive health.

“Until recently, the idea of preventing dementia wasn’t widely understood as a possibility, and the rising incidence in Japan has become a situation of national concern,” said Yuko Nakagawa, executive officer and general manager of Business Planning at SOMPO Himawari Life. “We established ‘Insurhealth’ to integrate insurance and health services. Since the partnership with Neurotrack began in 2018, we have been introducing their technology to our dementia insurance policyholders to help them become more active in assessing and strengthening their cognitive health. The engagement from younger policyholders has been impressive and supports our mission to use this innovative approach to reduce dementia in Japan, improving the health of the population and decreasing the costs caused by the illness.”

“Digital testing for dementias like Alzheimer’s disease has been guided by the belief that technology can be the innovation that makes accessible, affordable, accurate measurement for cognitive health as beneficial as regular screenings have been for physical health,” said Elli Kaplan, co-founder and CEO of Neurotrack. “The promise of digital testing is real. Making this available to millions of policyholders represents how insurers are turning to technology to benefit the long-term health of their policyholders as they age. Insurers are in a perfect position to help their customers better understand their brain health, as well as providing the tools to do so.”

The advances of digital assessment enable individuals to test themselves regularly from home, monitoring their cognitive health over time. Insurers, who are often relied upon in some of the most difficult moments of life, can now offer a valuable digital resource to deepen and expand those relationships, becoming active partners in maintaining their policyholders’ cognitive health.

“Leveraging a tool like Neurotrack will ensure that new policies continue to be processed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Oldani. “In addition, using Neurotrack will continue to benefit life insurance carriers well into the future by expediting the underwriting process and giving individuals the ability to measure and manage their own cognitive health.”