The addiction to tobacco is one of the biggest public health threats the world has been facing since the medieval ages. Smoking today has become the cause of multiple diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and diabetes among others.
Such diseases usually take a long and drawn out period to surface as a result of smoking. Apart from the high costs of treatment, smokers also need to pay a higher health insurance premium in comparison to non - smokers. This is a fact which is still unknown to many.
Who is Considered a Smoker, in the Insurance Parlance?
Insurance Companies have come to realise that smokers bring with them higher possibilities of contracting diseases, the cost of treatment of which is extremely high.
A person who has smoked at least 4 times for a minimum period of six months is deemed to be a smoker. However, if a person has successfully avoided smoking cigarettes for a period of 3-5 years, they are no longer deemed smokers and insurers typically charge from them the same rates they do from non-smokers.
Therefore, those who smoke are required to disclose this while filling in their application for Health/ Medical Insurance as insurers charge higher premiums from such persons.
However, since all smokers do not have the same habits or patterns, health insurance providers categorise them into different categories and charge a premium based on their category, namely
- Preferred Smoker: This refers to someone who, in spite of smoking, has a clear medical record. In such cases, premiums charged from smokers are at par or just a tad bit higher than non-smokers.
- Typical Smoker: This refers to someone who has some minor health-related conditions arising from smoking. For such persons, the premium charged is higher than preferred smokers.
- Table Rated Smoker: This refers to persons who are long time smokers and have serious medical conditions arising from this habit. For such persons, the premium charged is the highest as they are already suffering from a prevalent medical condition.
So, basically if you are a regular or an occasional smoker, you will still be considered a smoker and need to pay an additional premium for your insurance plans.
Insurance for Smokers
While health insurance providers do provide similar plans to both smokers and non-smokers, they make it a point to check the medical conditions of the applicant before deciding upon a premium amount.
For instance, some health insurance providers carry out medical tests to determine specific illnesses and exclude their cover from the general plan. This might be the case for smokers suffering from diseases that originate largely from the consumption of tobacco. As such, health insurance premiums are higher for smokers.
Besides increasing premiums for smokers, health insurance plans can also put the following conditions on policies for smokers
- Restriction on the coverage for smoking-related illnesses
- Permanent exclusion on illnesses that might occur due to smoking
- Waiting period for illnesses resulting from smoking
These conditions would be imposed depending on the frequency of smoking and the current medical condition of the smoker.
In the event of one being a long term smoker, they can still have their amount of premium reduced by enrolling themselves in a rehabilitation programme to give up on the habit. However, they need to be clean for a minimum period of 24 months before the insurance companies decide to drop their premiums and match them with that of a non-smoker.
Not unlike health insurance, smoking tends to increase the premium one pays for a life insurance policy as well. When a person buys term life insurance, which covers them for a certain number of years, or whole or universal life insurance, which covers them for their entire lifespan, there is a distinct difference in the premiums paid by smokers and non-smokers.
Let us take an example of a 30-year old male opting for a sum insured of INR 1 CR for 30 years
|Insurance Providers||Non Smoker Premium||Smoker Premium|
|ICICI Prudential iProtect Smart Term Plan||INR 19,263||INR 24,827|
|Max Life Smart Term Plan||INR 9,865||INR 15,134|
|HDFC Life Click 2 Protect Plan- Life Protect Option||INR 9,925||INR 15,463|
So, smoking not only spoils your health but also your wealth as insurance becomes way more expensive.
Hence, it can be confidently said that smoking does prove to be expensive, not only for your health but also in terms of wealth. On smoking as well, the treatment for the ailments due to smoking are costly. Also, a great amount of a smokers’ savings are devoted to unnecessarily high insurance premiums in spite of having the option of exercising self-control and giving up on the habit altogether.