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How Does Smoking Affect Your Life Insurance Premium?

  7/14/18 9:14 AM

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We all are aware about the ill effects of smoking. Tobacco consumption affects both your health and wealth. Smoking also affects your life insurance premium. Life insurance premiums are higher for a smoker as compared to non-smokers. This is because of the health risks involved due to the use of tobacco. There is a belief and experience that smokers are more prone to a premature death, or suffering from a critical illness. Insurers in India take the risks posed by smoking which increases the premium cost significantly for a person than a person who does not smoke. If you want to lower the life insurance cost then getting rid of your smoking habit is one of the most effective ways.

How do life insurance companies classify a smoker?

If you have smoked tobacco products in the last 12 months, then according to insurance world you will be classed as a smoker. Irrespective if you are smoking more than 15 cigarettes a day or someone who smokes only when on occasions. Mostly, all smokers are treated equally by the insurance industry.

Following is an example of a term insurance quote for a 30-year-old, offering Rs 1 crore cover for a 30-year policy term.

Non Smoker

EDELWEISS TOKIO

HDFC LIFE

               748

       836

Smoker

AEGON LIFE

MAX LIFE

EDELWEISS TOKIO

HDFC LIFE

    976

1049

       1061

      1304

Difference in INR for premium payable or extra premium payable compared to non-smoker quote

AEGON LIFE

MAX LIFE

EDELWEISSTOKIO

HDFC LIFE

   324

312

             313

         468

Let’s see what will be the difference in premium payable in INR per month for smoker and non-smoker from same insurers. The below premiums are subject to change from time to time, but it will give you a fair idea of the cost difference.

What if I don’t disclose my smoking habit to the insurance company?

As we can see from the above example premiums for smokers are higher than non-smokers and this may tempt some people to not disclose their smoking habit in order to keep the premium costs down. However, insurers also do their bit of investigation by understanding life insurance applicant’s medical history which could suggest a potential customer’s tobacco usage. If you still don’t get detected as a smoker and subsequently suffer from a critical illness such as cancer, the medical records would flag up whether you were or are a smoker or any other facts that may expose your lie.

What happens if Insurers find out about the smoking lie during the time claim is made?

In such instances Insurers have two options:

Option 1 -  Not to pay the claim at all as it breaches the honesty clause in the contract. The insurer cannot be sued if the policy holder gave false information of being a non-smoker.

Option 2 - In very rare case, the insurer will compare how much the policyholder has paid as a ‘non-smoker’ against how much he would have paid had he declared his smoking habit. For example, the policyholder only paid 60% of what he should’ve, then the insurer would also only provide 60% of the agreed policy benefits which may not be sufficient and will cost dearly resulting in financial crises and misery for the family.

The consequences of failing to disclose smoking habits during the policy term can range from being pulled up for fraud to having the policy terminated and losing out on premiums paid.

If I quit smoking will my premiums go down?

Although life insurance premiums are more expensive for smokers than non-smokers, they are available at reasonable prices. If the policyholder is in the process of quitting smoking, they can ask the insurance company to reassess the policy after a time frame of 12 months after kicking the habit. The company may be able to decrease the premium rate depending upon the amount of time elapsed since the individual last smoked.

Conclusion

While the belief of chances of health-related claims because of tobacco addiction remains high, it is also not the only factor having a direct impact on health insurance premiums. It is a myth that smokers are denied insurance cover or have issues during claim process which often prevents many smokers from going for a life insurance policy. It is only recommended that provided you are smoker or non-smoker you should disclose correct information to your insurer for a smooth claim process.

 

Neha Panchal - Financial Content Writer

Neha used to be an Engineer by Profession and Writer by passion, which is until she started pursuing full-time writing. She's presently working as a Financial Content Writer, with a keen interest in all things related to the Insurance Sector.

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