Insurance Woes for Vapers

Posted 27th March 2017 by Dave Cross
POTV was warning this situation could come to fruition in 2015, and the subject of vaping being classified as smoking raised its head again in a recent Daily Mirror article. While the job of the insurance industry is to be sceptical on such matters, to prevent huge losses to their shareholders, they appear to be stuck in an early mind-set when it comes to efficacy.

Almost three years ago, Australian insurance companies won the right in court to charge higher premiums to smokers. Mark Fitzgibbon, a leading insurance company executive, welcomed the court’s verdict with a chilling forecast: “It's not too far away where we will have little nano capsules in our blood stream providing us with all our vital diagnostics, warning us about our blood sugar insulin levels at any given time, measuring our calorie intake and measuring how many calories we've expended.”

A year later, Insurance News welcomed the historic low in adult smoking rates, yet struggled to embrace and congratulate the vaping technology that made it possible. The entire article is bracketed in the context of “pro-smokeless tobacco advocates” vs. the right-thinking world.

The insurance industry have been listening to the legislative mood music rather than the results from peer-reviewed scientific studies. The use of a quote from a representative from anti-vape Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a case in point: “public health authorities in the U.S., including the CDC and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, have found there is not enough evidence to conclude whether e-cigarettes are a safe and effective smoking cessation device.”

Therefore, it is not surprising that the Daily Mirror has stated this week that the insurance industry sees no difference in people smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes or vaping – despite the Cochrane Review, Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians all stating there is a considerable health dividend to be had from switching to the electronic alternative.

Any insurance policy that asks if the applicant is a smoker could be rendered invalid if vapers refer to themselves as ex-smokers.

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The Mirror’s story was triggered by a survey conducted by Boughtbymany, a type of comparison website for insurance. Their results stated:

  • 43% of vapers not aware their insurance premiums may be affected by vaping
  • 85% believe that vapers should not pay the same premium as smokers
  • 77% say that vaping actively helped them stop smoking
  • 61% believe that vaping over smoking has improved their health

Boughtby many say: “If a vaper wrongly assumes a question about nicotine consumption only refers to smoking they could potentially invalidate their health or life cover by inadvertently giving incorrect information.

Phil Nash, Product Development Manager at health insurance broker ActiveQuote commented: "There are 2 main issues to consider when considering vaping in relation to health insurance. From an insurer perspective there is a risk that customers answer "smoking" questions incorrectly. The likelihood is inadvertent, rather than deliberate non-disclosure although the outcome would very likely be the same in terms of non-payment of claim.”

"From a customer perspective there is clearly a the lack of awareness that vaping increases the cost of premiums. There is the likelihood that customers will not only be paying significantly inflated premiums at outset, but that if they do stop smoking (normally for a 12 month period) then they could benefit from much lower non-smoker premiums."

Are you concerned you have a health policy that may become invalid because they discover you are a vaper?

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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