Manulife First Again With Insurance Innovations

Eliminating nicotine, blood, urine testing for policies up to $1 million for eligible applicants on all life insurance products

Waterloo, ON (Feb. 11, 2017) – Manulife today announced that it has expanded its industry-leading predictive analytics program to include up to $1 million of coverage without the need for nicotine, blood and urine testing on all individual life insurance products. Now over half of Manulife’s life insurance customers who apply will not be required to undergo time-consuming and invasive testing, making Manulife the only insurer in Canada to eliminate the need for all of these tests.

“Manulife is the first and only Canadian insurer to use predictive analytics to make these advancements in the insurance-buying process,” said Karen Cutler, VP and Chief Underwriter, Manulife. “While most of the industry requires blood, urine and other information with only $250,000 of life insurance coverage, we’ve moved far past that and made the application process significantly simpler for Canadians.”

Details of this announcement include:

  • Manulife will no longer require the need to meet with a paramedical to test for nicotine or gather blood, urine and other biometric data for policies up to $1 million for eligible applicants between the ages of 18 and 40 in most cases.
  • This program was first launched May 9, 2016 on Manulife term life products and has been expanded to include all individual life insurance products including whole life and universal life products.
  • Testing has been reduced for clients between the ages of 41 and 69 as well. Canadians applying for insurance coverage up to $5,000,000 in coverage, no longer require an electrocardiogram (EKG).
  • Clients aged 70 and over now applying for insurance coverage up to $10,000,000, now only require a resting EKG (previously a stress EKG was required).

Predictive analytics to decrease life insurance fraud

“The elimination of nicotine testing is of particular interest to us as smokers who falsely identify as non-smokers can potentially drive up life insurance premiums for non-smokers because of the health impacts from smoking. This is the industry’s number one source of life insurance fraud,” added Cutler. “Our predictive analytics and monitoring of application data will work towards eliminating the opportunities for fraud, allowing us to keep insurance premiums affordable.”

“These industry-leading analytic tools are fundamental to Manulife’s customer-centric strategy and the overall improvement of our decision making,” said Cindy Forbes, Chief Analytics Officer, Manulife. “The insights from the data we collect through our underwriting process and public sources enables us to determine the cases that we believe require testing, while simplifying the application process for more than half of applicants.”

The insurance industry has historically tested all applicants for risks that are only present in a small percentage of the population. Manulife has changed that by using data analytics in addition to information gathered through an application to target the cases requiring testing, making the application process easier for Canadians. Manulife plans to continue to invest in expanding the program in 2017 as it makes buying insurance a more customer friendly experience.

There are exceptions to the increased limit process based on diagnosed medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes. These applicants will be required to provide additional information similar to current industry practices.

Many Canadians who would qualify for insurance under Manulife’s new underwriting process have no life insurance,(1) leaving them vulnerable,” said Cutler. “That’s why we are making these changes, and simplifying insurance so that more families have protection. In 2016 alone, we became the first insurer in Canada to underwrite HIV positive Canadians and launched Manulife Vitality. We are focused on making the insurance buying process easier and faster for our customers.”


1. Manulife survey conducted with 1,000 Canadian homeowners between the ages of 30 and 50 with household income of $50,000 to $150,000 per annum. Conducted online by Research House, March 2011.

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group that helps people achieve their dreams and aspirations by putting customers’ needs first and providing the right advice and solutions. We operate as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance, as well as wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions.

At the end of 2015, we had approximately 34,000 employees, 63,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving 20 million customers. At the end of September 2016, we had $966 billion (US$736 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made more than $24.4 billion in benefits, interest and other payments to our customers.

Our principal operations are in Asia, Canada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 100 years. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we trade as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong.

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SOURCE: Manulife Financial Corporation