Wednesday 9th March was National No Smoking Day. It marked 30 years since the first National No Smoking Day and great strides have been made to reduce the number of smokers, and smoking related diseases, in the UK.
Yet according to a Government report published in May last year, around 18 percent of the population in England are thought to be smokers, and 17 percent of all deaths of adults aged 35 and over were estimated to be caused by smoking.
This is probably why life insurance and critical illness providers take the risks associated with ‘lighting up’ so seriously. Enough to increase premiums by 33 percent or more for a 30-year old smoker, and up to 100 percent more for over 50-year olds. This isn’t because they’re deliberately taking advantage of people with an addiction, it’s because smoking really does massively increase your chances of serious illness and death.
There are still some misunderstandings when it comes to smoking and applying for insurance, and not disclosing a smoking habit remains one of the most common reasons to have a claim rejected. If you are a smoker (and that includes people who enjoy some social smoking on a Saturday night), here are some important things to remember:
- When it comes to cigarette usage, insurers are pretty black and white. If you have had a cigarette in the last 12 months, you will be classified as a smoker. This includes every type of smoker, from someone who has an occasional cigarette to someone who smokes 20 a day.
- A smoker that quits will only be classified as a non-smoker after a minimum of 12 months of abstinence.
- Life insurers typically perform medical records checks on 20 percent of applicants to determine if they are telling the truth about whether or not they smoke.
- Unfortunately, you won’t benefit from lower quotes if you vape rather than smoke, because most e-cigarettes still have nicotine in them, and it’s the presence of nicotine in your system that triggers the higher premiums.
- Using nicotine patches also counts as smoking from an insurance perspective. That’s because, as with electronic cigarettes, they deliver nicotine into your body.
Michael Ward, Managing Director of PayingTooMuch.com said “A 40-year old looking for £250,000 of life insurance cover until the age of 65, will typically pay £50 per month if they are a smoker, and £25 per month if they are a non-smoker. While this is a big difference, it’s also the cost of two and a half packs of cigarettes. So if you are a regular smoker, it’s a small price to pay to protect your loved ones in the event of your death. Equally, if you’re a social smoker, you may want to think twice about indulging on a Saturday night. Whether you declare it or not, it could be a very costly weekend habit.
For more support and advice on how to give up smoking, visit The British Heart Foundation's No Smoking Day website.