Due to the effects smoking has on our health, it is no surprise that smoking then has an affect on your health insurance policy. The NHS claim that smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death in England, with more than 80,000 deaths per year.
How smoking affects your health
First and foremost, before exploring how smoking affects your health insurance, let’s look at how it affects your health in order to understand why it may affect your insurance.
Effects of smoking on the body:
- Lung Cancer – 90% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking.
- Other types of cancer
- Heart Disease
- Other respiratory illnesses and complications
- Ages skin and can turn complexion yellow
- Reduce fertility rates
It is easy to see why your health insurance may be compromised looking at these health problems, that also carry a risk of higher mortality.
What are the costs?
So smoking is clearly bad for your health, but it is also bad for your wealth- especially when it comes to taking out health or life insurance.
Insurance companies are so aware of the risks of smoking that they can charge a third more for premiums for a 30-year-old smoker, and up to twice as much for those smokers over the age of 50.
Insurers are aware that smokers are far more likely to claim on their health insurance due to critical illness or premature death than non-smokers.
Who is classed as a smoker?
If you’re thinking to yourself, I’m not a “smoker”, but I do have the occasional cigarette – this is what insurers class a smoker: If you have used tobacco within the last year, you are a smoker under their policy.
If you have an occasional cigarette, you fall into the same category as a 20 or 40 a day smoker. So, usually, all “smokers” are treated equally by insurance companies – even having one every so often, will affect you and your health insurance policy.
What if I lie about smoking to save money on insurance?
A lot of people are aware that smoking can badly affect their health insurance policy, and are therefore tempted to cheat the system and lie.
When drawing up a policy, insurers will ask a variety of questions – a lot of which can determine potential tobacco use, even when the client has told them they are a non-smoker. Checks will also be run on the medical histories on about one fifth of individuals applying. This can potentially catch out those who are trying to lie about their relationship which tobacco.
If found out, health insurance providers have two options when confronted with a policyholder who has lied about their smoking habits when originally setting up their insurance policy.
The policy-providers can choose to simply not pay out. The contract is void, due to misconduct.
The insurers can compare how much the individual has paid under the guise of a “non-smoker”, against how much they would’ve paid had they declared their habit.
So, for example, if they’ve only paid out 50% of what they should have, they will only be provided 50% of the agreed benefits by the insurer.
Will it change my health insurance policy if I quit smoking?
Insurance companies will agree to look into an applicant or policyholders medical profile if they give up smoking completely, according to the Association of British insurers (ABI).
The way the insurers would go about this is to seek a report from the policyholder’s family doctor. If concerns are particularly raised by the doctors report, it is not uncommon for the insurers to ask the policyholder to have a chest X-ray to rule out any irreversible damage. The age and value of the health insurance policy will also be considered.
If you are a smoker currently, unfortunately your health insurance will cost a lot more money than if you did not smoke at all. However, quitting can bring down the cost of your health insurance policy, but more importantly will rapidly improve your health and overall quality of life.