You are Here > Home > My Insurance > E-cigarettes and your life insurance policy

E-cigarettes and your life insurance policy

Jul 26, 2021

Clyde Parsons, Actuarial Executive at BrightRock, explains why regular users of e-cigarettes are charged smoker rates by life insurers, and what you can do about it.

E-cigarettes and your life insurance policyFor decades now, we’ve known that smoking is bad for our health – the research has conclusively shown that smoking increases your risk of suffering from cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung disease, among many other conditions.

This is why life insurance companies charge higher rates for smokers than non-smokers. Smokers can pay more than double the premiums that a non-smoker would pay, depending on factors such as age, pre-existing conditions like those mentioned above, and how you’ve structured your policy.

But did you know that regular users of e-cigarettes are also charged smoker rates when it comes to life insurance?

Why do vapers get charged smoker rates?

E-cigarettes are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine and other chemicals, along with flavour. They turn chemicals, including nicotine, into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user.

Most insurers in South Africa, including BrightRock, charge the users of e-cigarettes the same rates that we charge smokers of traditional tobacco products. There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, e-cigarettes, such as vapes, contain smaller doses of nicotine, and other harmful substances such as ultrafine particles, flavourants, and heavy metals.

While the levels of nicotine are smaller than they are in traditional tobacco products, they still pose some risk to the long-term health of the user. That being said, some e-cigarettes can contain even more nicotine than normal, combustible cigarettes.

Secondly, because e-cigarettes are still relatively new in the market, not enough research has been done to investigate the health risks that come with using them.

However, some of the available research shows that consuming e-cigarettes has been associated with an increased risk of chronic cough, bronchitis, and asthma.

E-cigarette smokers are also believed to be more susceptible to respiratory infections and poor cardiovascular health.

What if I’m vaping because I want to quit smoking?

The World Health Organisation (which has stated unequivocally that e-cigarettes are harmful to your health) says that of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers, 60% want to quit.

Many tobacco smokers use e-cigarettes to help them quit. When underwriting clients for life insurance at BrightRock, we ask if they smoke or use any other nicotine products other than cigarettes, such as cigars, pipes, hubbly bubblies, e-cigarettes, or even nicotine gum.

If clients have used any of these products within the preceding 12 months before their applications, we’ll charge them smoker rates. This is because smokers – regardless of whether they’re inhaling nicotine from combustible or e-cigarettes – are most likely to relapse within 12 months of quitting.

How do I get non-smoker life insurance rates?

If you’re one of the 600 million people in the world wanting to quit smoking right now, then you’ll be happy to hear that changing this habit is not only worth it from a health perspective but also from a financial perspective.

If you haven’t smoked or used nicotine products for 12 months, then you can apply to get non-smoker life insurance rates.

Your insurer will ask you to sign a non-smoker declaration and do a cotinine urine test. If the test comes back negative, then this could reduce your premium by up to half. At a time when everyone is watching their rands and cents, that is definitely worth considering!

What if I have a policy and start smoking or vaping?

The effect on your cover and premiums will depend on your insurer. At BrightRock, you don’t need to let us know if you start smoking or vaping, and your premiums and cover will not be affected. Taking up smoking after your policy started won’t affect your claim.

However, it’s important to know that there are many insurers in the market that do require you to notify them if you start smoking or vaping. if you don’t, they can reduce, or even decline your claim as a result, so be sure to check with them.

This article was based on a press release issued on behalf of BrightRock.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

Previous Articles

Five ways to boost your income and financial knowledge

Angelique Ruzicka shares five ideas for how you can improve your financial knowledge and possibly boost your income. Boosting your income, especially during a pandemic, can feel nigh on impossible, especially when costs are going up and you’ve been told there’s no...

Financial tools to keep you on track in 2022

Advances in technology mean that it’s now so easy to keep track of your finances and achieve savings goals, using smartphone apps, websites, and other online financial tools, says Angelique Ruzicka. If you’re still using Excel or some other rudimentary means to keep...

What will the rand do in 2022?

Ryan Booysen, MD at DG Capital Forex, stares into his crystal ball to predict where the rand will go in 2022. The rand ended 2021 on the back foot, after the Omicron announcement and subsequent global kneejerk reaction of isolation and red-listing the country. And...

SARS gets serious over non-compliance

Jashwin Baijoo, Legal Manager, Africa Tax and Compliance at Tax Consulting SA, warns all non-compliant taxpayers that SARS could be coming for them sooner rather than later. In media statements in recent months, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has made clear...

Should I use my retirement lump sum to settle my debt?

A question that I often receive is whether it's a good idea to use one's lump sum on retirement to pay off short-term debts, such as car debt or one's credit card. For example, Ntombise recently wrote to me: “I have just retired from work and expect a lump sum...

Reflecting on the year that was

Victoria Reuvers, Managing Director at Morningstar Investment Management South Africa, looks at how financial markets performed in 2021. As a runner, the change in seasons gives me time to reflect. Autumn is my favourite season, and always reminds me that change is...

Immediate access to retirement funds unlikely

Retirement reform paper calls for comment but no move on immediate access. Retirement fund members hoping to access their retirement funds for urgent financial relief will be disappointed by the retirement reform paper issued by National Treasury last month. In the...

The 2022 survival budget

As if the last two years were not tough enough, there is no silver lining awaiting us in 2022. In 2021 we absorbed further fuel-price increases, a 15% hike in electricity costs, and an interest-rate increase of 25 basis points – and this is only the start. It is...

Using critical illness insurance to supplement medical cover

Many financial advisers are using life products to supplement medical costs. While current legislation does not allow for cover like critical illness insurance to be marketed as a product to cover medical costs, for most policyholders, that is exactly what it is used...

Savvy ways to use your bonus

Many companies are cash strapped due to the impact of Covid-19, but if you are one of the lucky few who got a bonus or windfall this year, it will be tempting to spend it to celebrate surviving another tough year. However, money experts recommend being a bit cautious,...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This