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.”
Fortunately, the intervening years have not seen the introduction of this Orwellian technology – but insurance companies have taken full advantage of the ability to treat vapers as if they were still exposed to the same risk of tobacco-related diseases as cigarette smokers.
We reported how vapers risked invalidating any of their insurance policies if they refer to themselves as ex-smokers, in 2015. A survey at the time found that 85% believed they should not pay the same premium as smokers, and almost half were unaware their insurance premiums may be affected by their vaping.
It changed this year as Future Proof joined forces with the UK's Vaping Industry Association to lead the way in bringing reduced life insurance premiums to people who had switched from smoking to vaping.
Future Proof’s CEO told us: “The biggest winners are people who haven’t smoked tobacco for over 12 months and have only used nicotine replacement products (such as e-cigarettes) during that time. In many cases they will be quoted premiums which are about half the cost which a ‘smoker’ would pay.”
His position has encouraged other companies to rethink their approach to harm reduction and vaping, but still not enough to change the rates they charge.
Vitality admitted: “We appreciate that vaping, a relatively new activity compared to smoking tobacco, does not have an entirely clear risk-benefit profile. We … are keenly following the debate as the evidence base for the impact of vaping grows”.
Aegon believes: “If someone smokes an e-cigarette, they will be classed as a smoker, unless they smoke nicotine-free e-cigarettes.”
Aviva appears to be utterly confused: “Customers only need to tell us about electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine. Therefore e-cigarettes that don’t contain nicotine don’t affect the premium.”
Beagle Street is even worse: “We define a smoker as someone who has smoked or used nicotine replacement products, including e-cigarettes, in the last 12 months.”
The miserable story continues for the other six companies interviewed by Your Money. For the time being, POTV recommends that you get in contact with Future Proof if you are in the market for life insurance.