Smokers have another reason to join the annual Stoptober drive to quit the cigs – cut price health care
Leading private medical insurance specialist Chase Templeton reports that people who quit for a year or more can save hundreds of pounds on their annual health insurance premiums.
“If people don’t smoke or have stopped for a year or more they can benefit from discounted premiums or cashback schemes,” comments the firm’s commercial director, Richard Holden. “The savings can be quite significant and, of course, quitting itself will bring both financial and health benefits. As with the value of premium discounts, these will vary with age.”
To give an indication of the size of the possible savings Chase Templeton sourced insurers’ quotes for people of different ages living on the appropriately named Puffers Way in Newbury.
It found that The Exeter cut premiums by over 11% meaning a 60-year old non-smoker would save £288.96 annually. AXA PPP healthcare offers lower percentage savings – typically of between four to five percent – but with more competitive base premiums. Innovative insurer Vitality offers a broader scheme which provides cashback rewards when its members follow healthier lifestyles. They can collect points by quitting smoking and taking regular exercise to earn Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum status. Their smoke free status is confirmed through quarterly healthchecks conducted at local pharmacies.
Each status offers a different level of cashback reward, with Platinum membership yielding a 15% reward. For a 60-year-old non or ex-puffer on Puffers Lane satisfying other Platinum lifestyle criteria that means a £296 pay out. “That’s nearly £300 on top of the money a smoker will save indulging their habit. Someone smoking 20 a day will be spending well over £3,000 a year on a vice which puts them at much higher risk of contracting one of many diseases and conditions and, statistically, reduces their life expectancy,” points out Mr Holden. “Quitting younger reduces that risk and can help minimise your health insurance premiums throughout your life.”
Research published by the NHS shows that smokers who quit before they hit 30 will avoid 90% of the smoking-related risks associated with lung cancer – and can expect to live ten years longer. Another survey saw that figure reaching 97% for women. Quitting for just one year halves the risk of a heart attack whilst someone who’s been off the evil weed for a decade is also 50% less likely than a continuing smoker to suffer from lung cancer.
“These numbers graphically illustrate just why policyholders should benefit from lower premiums or rewards,” says Mr Holden. “Smokers are more susceptible to diseases like cancer for which many treatments are available under private health insurance policies. It’s in the insurer’s interests for its policyholders to adopt healthier lifestyles as it is, of course, for the policyholders themselves.”
He cautioned though that not every insurer offers discounts to non-smokers and that those looking to take out or renew policies should seek advice from a specialist broker in order to secure the best deal for their particular circumstances.He also warned that whilst the Stoptober campaign encourages smokers to use e-cigarettes, insurers treat vapers as smokers. “If you quit real cigarettes for electronic ones you will still be regarded as a smoker and therefore denied the financial rewards available to non-smokers.”