As mentioned in a previous post, the definition of a non-smoker for life insurance purposes is someone who has not smoked any cigarettes, cigars or a pipe for the last 12 months. However, it is also someone who has not used any nicotine replacements in the last year. This includes nicotine patches, gum, and the new ‘e-cigarettes’. In this post The Cheapest Life Insurance aims to get to the bottom of why this is!
Nicotine replacement therapies are generally recommended by GPs when their patient expresses a wish to stop smoking. They are considered to help people to quit cigarettes and other tobacco products, so why do life insurance companies penalize people who use them? Probably because a lot of people who use them end up going back to smoking cigarettes, which is of course a risk to their health! The risk of relapse is highest in the first few weeks after quitting, and this is also when people are most likely to using nicotine replacement products. It is understandable that insurance companies don’t want to take the risk of insuring someone for a lower price who has only just quit, when there is a strong chance they might start smoking again after they take out the policy.
There is currently a massive trend of people switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes, which are tobacco-free and release a small quantity of vaporised nicotine. This has caught health professionals, governments and insurance companies by surprise so people who are using them to aid in quitting nicotine for good will still be classed as smokers, although this may change in the future. The confusion about e-cigarettes doesn’t just stop at life insurance however…
There are very few regulations surrounding the use and promotion of e-cigarettes. They are not included in the smoking ban, and they are not subject to the same laws surrounding advertising that traditional cigarettes are. There has also been very little research on them so nobody really knows the effects they may have on your health, but as they grow in popularity there will undoubtedly be more studies performed, to test how effective they are in helping people to quit and also the effects on general health.
So, for now, your nicotine gum will cause you to be offered smoker rates for your life insurance. But as the trend for nicotine replacement therapies grows, and as more and more research is performed on the effects of nicotine alone, without tobacco, we may see a change in the tight regulations surrounding smokers and life insurance. You never know, maybe one day there will be a new class of smoker, the ‘nicotine user’, with potentially cheaper life insurance than a tobacco user!