As well as having negative health affects, smoking can also increase the cost of your health or life insurance premiums.
Private Medical Insurance providers view smokers as ‘higher risk’ – in other words more likely to require medical attention and claim on their policy. For example, the NHS estimates that 100,000 people die each year from smoking-related illnesses alone. Because of this, the premium a smoker pays is usually higher than a non-smoker would pay.
In March 2016 we compared prices for smokers and non-smokers using AXA PPP as an example insurer, and found that smoker’s health insurance tends to cost more than non-smokers. For example – we found that if you are a 68 year old smoker from London your premium would be £176.64 a year higher than if you were a non-smoker. It is also worth noting that not all providers require you to disclose your smoker status, which may help save on your premiums if you smoke.
Health insurance providers define ‘smokers’ as anyone who has used tobacco products in the past 12 months – whether that’s an occasional smoker or someone on a 20-a-day habit. To be considered a ‘non-smoker’ and reduce the cost of your premium, you would have to be completely tobacco free for 12 consecutive months.Smoking isn’t just traditional cigarettes. It’s important to note that e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco and nicotine patches are counted as tobacco products, so are still ‘smoking’ in the eyes of insurers and do increase the cost of your premiums. Recreational drugs such as marijuana also count as smoking.
This would be considered fraudulent and could cost you your insurance package. Your provider could contest a payout, or even sue to obtain legal costs and lost premiums. Your provider is allowed to ask for urine or saliva tests to prove whether or not you smoke, and also may run checks on your medical history. In case of large claims on the policy (for serious illness), if the condition indicates a smoking-related illness your provider will investigate.
Some insurers like The Exeter and Aviva treat your ‘smoker status’ on a case by case basis, so you may be able to access cheaper premiums with these policies. In addition, some insurers will even help you stop smoking – for example Vitality offers free access to the Allen Carr Stop Smoking Programme, which could be a great benefit to you.
There are a lot of free resources that will help you quit smoking – which will improve your health and lower the cost of your insurance premiums. Start with the NHS’s SmokeFree support.
At Chase Templeton we’re experts in understanding and explaining to you the ins and outs of private health insurance policies. If you’re a smoker and are looking for health insurance, we can help – Contact Us today.