It’s one of the big questions isn’t it? And one found on the lips of millions of recently converted smokers across the UK.
We know that smoking can lead to increased life insurance premiums, but does ditching the old nicotine stick in favour of the (allegedly) healthier e-cigarette bring down the cost of health and life insurance policy premiums?
Here we will endeavour to bring the millions of you who have seen the light (as opposed to the ‘lighter’) and moved away from the dark side once and for all, a definitive answer.
Of course, you haven’t given the conventional cigarette the big heave-ho once and for all purely for the sake of your wallet, because as constant research goes a long way to prove, the more you smoke the greater the risk that you could end up damaging your body irreversibly in years to come.
But a vastly improved and encouraging long-term health outlook combined with saving money is one addiction most of us would approve of.
Just in case you weren’t aware, e-cigarettes are the relatively new e-kiddy on the tech block.
For as long as anyone in the insurance industry can recall, smoking is considered the harbinger of twin doom, in as much as box-ticking it as one of your lifestyle choices on your health and life insurance policy applications immediately ramps up any subsequent premium quote.[/nav-text] Almost and beyond twice as much in the case of some insurance providers. So with the advent of e-cigarettes – and in recognition of them riding the crest of a wave of searing popularity as an alternate product – there’s suddenly become hope in the minds of those who have made the switch to them from the dastardly white stick that their insurance premiums will fall as a result.
The facts are inescapable, as for a start e-cigarettes contain NO tobacco, which as anyone with or without a PHd in anything medical will quickly tell you is the bit in orthodox cigarettes solely responsible for causing the damage to our bodies.
What’s more some e-cigs don’t even contain nicotine as part of their rudimentary construct, which again most people will acknowledge provides the ‘addictive’ quality to a traditional fag. Essentially these omnipresent e-cigarettes are ‘vaped’ rather than actually ‘smoked’, a term which has been quickly adopted by the pro-e-cigarette lobby.
So with this in mind you’d be mistaken for thinking that the battle was already won, and that e-cigarettes would mean lower premiums due to them posing less risk than traditional cigarettes. But that’s not quite the case just yet…[one-half]
As it stands the jury remains out, with resolutions and future recommendations from the medical profession still a long way off being filtered down to the insurance industries who await the outcomes with baited breath.
First and foremost there needs to be a body of evidence that determines one way or another about the health implications of e-cigarettes and more pertinently, whether or not they should be treated (with insurance industry ramifications) any differently from the conventional cigarette it’s hoping to usurp in even greater volume than it already is.[/one-half] [one-half-last] [box color=”grey”]
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In light of this – and despite some 1.3 million people turning to e-cigs as supported by figures released recently – insurers are still in a certain limbo and state of flux about their stance on the subject, collectively and in some cases, individually too.
On this note it’s imperative that you speak with your health and/or life insurance policy provider to gauge their position on this at the point of your application process, if you’re one of the growing band of e-cigarette converts.
UK’s leading life insurance providers not always singing from same e-cigarette hymnbook at the moment
To give you some kind of idea of how some of the UK’s leading life/health insurers approach and generally view the whole e-cigarette debate, www.thisismoney.co.uk contacted a few of the big names in the industry to find out what they had to say.
The ABI confirmed what we’ve already highlighted, in as much as you should discuss with your individual insurer to ascertain just how they interpret the current e-cigarette climate in terms of policy conditions and restrictions, yet also added that if the would-be policyholder had not used tobacco in the past 12 month period and replaced their use with e-cigarettes they might be entitled to answer no to smoking-related questions on the life/health policy application form.
But by no means is it a given that this will be accepted by the insurer as the long term health implications of the product are yet to be determined from a scientific/medical viewpoint.
Meanwhile LV Insurance were said to have underlined the fact that due to e-cigarettes being universally recognised as a replacement for nicotine, the implication is such that the user could easily revert back to traditional cigarettes to answer an almost inherent – if not, habitual – craving. And that therefore they cite e-cigarette users in the same policyholder profiling system as a regular cigarette smoker with direct regards to LV’s life insurance products.
Aviva Insurance offered a similar corporate outlook, with a spokesperson keen to point out that; “For health insurance, premiums are not based on smoker status, so we don’t ask customers any questions about whether they smoke or use e-cigarettes”.
Aviva went on to suggest that originally e-cigarettes were advertised as ‘smoking cessation aids’ with the emphasis on steadily coaxing traditional smokers away from nicotine and tobacco-filled mainstream products. Which gave the general impression that many smokers would, potentially, be tempted to flit between the two very different products during this transitional process, while nowadays they believe e-cigarettes stand as a more genuine and all-consuming alternative to conventional cigarettes.
With this in mind Aviva tend to side with the ABI’s stance, with reference to the 12 month nicotine-cessation period.
Finally, Zurich UK Life has also taken a more expansive view of the e-cigarette situation and while expressing notable concern over the potential for relapse amongst some e-cigarette users are generally employing the same 12 month nicotine-cessation method of determining whether a smoker is serious about kicking the habit and has consistently proved it over a year prior to applying for a new or revised life insurance policy.
The Head of Retail Propositions at Zurich UK Life added; “We’ll continue to monitor the impact and the evidence – as further information becomes available, we may see greater refinement in pricing to allow for the difference between ‘real’ and e-cigarettes in the future”.
So as it currently stands, the effect of e-cigarettes on policy premiums is largely subject to change in the foreseeable future based on a number of medical/scientific evidence and practice coming to bear, our advice would be to check with each individual life/health insurance policy provider to find out exactly how they manifest, policy-wise the limited evidence which presently exists.