Liam and Jacob are friends, and they have decided to buy a life insurance policy. Both are healthy men in their 30s and have a stable income. To their surprise, the provider asks Jacob for a higher premium for the same policy. Why? You might be wondering. It’s because Jacob is a smoker, Liam is not.
Consuming tobacco in any form, in addition to vaping and smoking e-cigarettes, is smoking, according to the insurers. Many of them also don’t rule out cannabis smoking as entirely risk-free. You will be treated as a smoker if you smoke anything in the 12 months before applying for the insurance.
Why do insurance providers consider smoking so risky and charge high premiums?
The rates of life insurance depend on the health condition of the applicant. The insurers also assess your current lifestyle choices to detect anything that may put you at a health risk in the future. Smoking is one of those lifestyle choices that increase the risk of various health complications, especially in older people.
Smoking can trigger multiple medical conditions, including strokes, chronic bronchitis, lung diseases, and even cancer. Statistically, Jacob is 23 times more vulnerable to developing lung cancer than Liam. A 2017 Canadian Cancer Society report revealed that smoking caused 18.4% of all deaths and burdened the country’s healthcare with $6.5 billion annual costs.
So, it makes sense why Jacob’s premiums will be higher than Liam’s. Jacob falls in a demographic at higher risk of developing a disease or condition and dying from it.
If an applicant dies early, the insurance company has to pay more to cover the death benefit. And no insurer would want to pay that extra money. So, they charge higher premiums to high-risk applicants to cover up that potential high amount of death benefit payout.
Suppose Liam and Jacob have planned to take a 10-year term policy with $100,000 of coverage. Depending on their age, any provider in Canada will charge 20% to 200% extra to Jacob. The difference won’t be much when the applicants are young (25 or less), but the premiums for a smoker in his 50 can jump 200% or more than a non-smoker. That’s a lump sum of money that smokers like Jacob have to pay during the term of the insurance.
Many smokers (especially the non-regular ones) tend to lie about it. After all, you smoke only when you are stressed, or it’s just this one time at a party, right? How would the insurers find out about it?
Trust me. They WILL.
Even if you can deceive the provider during the underwriting process, the company has the right to deny a claim or adjust the policy once the lie is exposed. Instead of lying, you should be honest about it and take these measures:
* Ask your insurer about the rules of lowering the premiums once you quit. Most providers will consider reducing the rate if you can refrain from smoking for at least 12 months straight.
* Otherwise, look for providers that offer better rates for smokers. Shop around and compare the most competitive rates before choosing one that suits you.
Smoking is never good for you — neither physically nor financially. If you are a serious smoker, your only option to get some financial respite is to find an insurance provider lenient towards smokers. However, the best measure would be quitting smoking for better health and a better rate.