Let’s talk about Life Insurance for Smokers. Read our article to see how smoking affects your policy and what you can do to increase your odds.
Me telling you that smoking is bad for your health isn’t exactly breaking news; it’s common knowledge that the habit isn’t going to do you any favours. However as with most vices, it can often take more than one incentive to make us quit. The big question though, does smoking affect Health Insurance?
If the pictures of blackened lungs and manky tumours adorning the cigarette packets aren’t enough, and the promise of a longer life isn’t really cutting it, then perhaps I can hit you where it really hurts, your wallet. Let’s face it, the habit’s already costing you an extortionate amount of money, why make it any worse?
The Cost of Smoking
When it comes to insurance – particularly any type of policy related to your health – smoking is as welcome as a screaming baby on a long-haul flight – and to Health Insurance providers, smoking is regarded as a high-risk habit. Obviously. Being a smoker increases your likelihood of developing illness and disease, of having general poor health, and dying prematurely.
Life Insurance takes into account that, the life-expectancy of smokers is seven to eight years less than that of non-smokers. Scary stuff…and I doubt I’m telling you something you don’t already know; but my point is, there’s a lot worse associated with smoking than just the inconvenience of having to go outside every time you want to have a fag (although I shouldn’t imagine that’s pleasant either now the weather’s getting colder).
Issues such as:
- More people aged 70 and under die from smoking related diseases than victims of AIDS, road traffic accidents and drug addiction put together.
- Smokers are two to four times more likely to suffer a blood clot
- Strokes, paralysis, kidney failure and gangrene are all delightful side effects that can be caused by smoking.
And that’s without me going into the risks of lung cancer, emphysema and other types of cancer that are more prevalent in smokers. There are around 7 million smokers in the UK, that’s about 14% of the population, and there were 77,000 smoking-related deaths last year alone.
With all of the smoking-related risks it’s no wonder that your health is going to be a lot more questionable than someone who’s never touched the demon weed. So, how can these goody-two-shoes – I mean, sensible people, benefit from their smoke-free existence when it comes to Health Insurance?
Well, non-smokers are instantly rewarded with lower insurance premiums – which you probably guessed – simply because they’re much less likely to darken the door of their insurer any time soon.
If that’s made you stub your fag out and think, ‘fine, I’ll quit’; just brace yourself a second…I’m afraid it’s not as easy as giving up smoking for a month and enjoying those sweet, sweet premium reductions.
You’re looking at a year, at least, of being a strict non-smoker before you’ll see a reduction in your premiums – and even then you’re going to have to provide medical evidence that proves it.
Can I Say I’m A Non-Smoker When I’m Not?
I mean in theory I guess you could – no one’s going to come rifling through your bins looking for empty packets of B&H – but, if you try to make a claim through your Health Insurance and your health has been in any way affected by your smoking, then your claim is null and void and you would have been smugly paying those non-smoker premiums for no reason at all. Life insurance policies (Especially for smokers) generally require a medical exam. Test’s for smoking health insurance now exist too. Tests will look for nicotine that’s usually in a person’s bloodstream for three days
What About If I Switch To Vaping?
You might feel much more self-righteous puffing out clouds of menthol blackcurrant and complaining loudly that it’s only water vapour and you should be allowed to smoke it on the bus, but in the world of insurance you might as well be chain-smoking Cuban cigars and eating tobacco for breakfast.
The truth is, that in the grand scheme of things, vaping hasn’t been around for very long, and we don’t really know what the long-term health implications are yet. Plus, most of the products contain nicotine to some degree, and as a rule, Insurance company’s criteria for a ‘non-smoker’ is someone who has been ‘nicotine-free’ for 12 months or longer.
What About Other Nicotine Replacement Products?
You heard me – ‘nicotine-free’, that means that even if you’ve quit cigarettes and are using a nicotine replacement such as patches or gum, you’ll still be treated as a smoker by an insurance company.
If that’s given you the hump and made you reach for the fags, let me explain… The reasoning there is that someone using nicotine replacement hasn’t actually kicked the habit at all and so there’s a good chance that they could go back to smoking.
Having said all that, even if you’re with an insurer that insists you’re nicotine-free for a year or more before reviewing your premiums, be sure to inform them when you have quit – even if nothing’s going to change for you money-wise for a while.
According to the Office of National Statisctics, it’s estimated that around 3.3 million ex-smokers in the UK are paying more than they need to because they haven’t informed their insurer that they’ve quit smoking.
How long does it take to get life insurance after quitting smoking?
It’s quite a big myth that you can’t get Life Insurance at all if you’re a smoker – which we’ve already established isn’t true. Aside from the higher premiums you’ll pay, there’ll probably be different terms and conditions than there would be for a non-smoker. But don’t let this put you off getting health insurance – it’s probably quite a handy thing to have if you’re a smoker as you’re more prone to all sorts of illnesses.
What Will I Be Asked?
You’ll be asked how much you smoke, how long you’ve smoked for, and whether or not you suffer any health conditions because of it. The insurer may then insist on medical tests.
They’ll take into account your age as well, which when combined with the length of time you’ve been smoking for could have a significant impact on your premiums.
Whether or not you have any pre-existing conditions will also be more of an issue if you’re a smoker, particularly when it comes to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension – in fact, some insurers may refuse a policy to a smoker suffering from type 2 Diabetes.
I Don’t Smoke ALOT…..
If you smoke a couple of cigarettes here and there, have no pre-existing illnesses and are generally fit and healthy, then getting Health Insurance shouldn’t be too difficult. If you were to suffer from some sort of lung condition or other smoking-related at a much later date you should be covered. You’re going to find it much more challenging – and maybe impossible with some companies – to get Health Insurance if you’re smoking 20-40 cigarettes a day.
So the long and short of it is, if you’re puffing away like Dot Cotton at an illegal rave, you can certainly expect to be paying much higher premiums than a non-smoker – even more so if you’re of a certain age and have a pre-existing health condition you can chuck into the mix – that’s if you can get insurance at all; you certainly won’t have the luxury of being picky!
If you’re someone who has the odd fag here and there, but is committed to quitting, the odds are more in your favour and you could find that your premiums become lower over time.
And if you never succumbed to the peer-pressure behind the bikesheds, nervously bringing that quivering foul-smelling stick to your lips in a desperate bid to be ‘cool’……then it’s very likely you’re not reading this.