Are you a smoker? Have you ever tried to give up the habit? The chances are that you have, but like any addiction it can be (and usually is) extremely difficult to stop, and even attempts to cut down rarely last very long. Part of the problem is that smoking can be very enjoyable, but only too often something can turn up which will instantly remove the enjoyment. Unfortunately that ‘something’ will very often be loss of health.
The insurance industry is well aware of this fact, so not surprisingly they try to ensure that they do not lose money by covering high risk customers at low risk rates. At the same time non-smoking customers for life insurance have been piling on the pressure in their search for lower premiums. This is where the internet comes into the picture.
It used to be the case that at best, anyone looking for competitive quotations for life insurance had to be prepared to spend a lot of time searching adverts and telephone directories for likely companies. They also had to be prepared to spend a lot of time on the telephone collecting information, and then to settle down to long and careful comparisons, covering bits of paper in confusing and often indecipherable notes.
But all that has changed. Now all they have to do is go online and check out as many companies as they wish. They will find information which is very carefully presented for maximum clarity, because a confused enquirer is highly unlikely to become a customer. It is now so easy to reach a decision that a ‘price war’ has developed and some very competitive quotations are available. This competition has however had an inevitable effect in that insurance companies have had to tighten up their procedures or risk losing money on the narrower margins.
So they have hit the obvious target – smokers. Whilst the life insurance premiums for non-smokers have been steadily reducing, smoker’s premiums have moved away in the opposite direction. This has resulted in rates for smokers which are 100% or more above standard rates and still climbing. This, on top of the cost of the cigarettes (currently estimated to be approaching £100,000 in a lifetime and still climbing) means that anyone who still smokes must be very determined not to curtail their enjoyment.
Critical illness insurance is another policy which many people take out, to provide financial security for their families in the event of loss of income due to lengthy illness. It is reasonably self-evident that this too will be a great deal more expensive for smokers, simply due to their greater propensity for such illnesses as a result of their addiction.
So do you dig your heels in and continue to enjoy smoking, or do you give way to the financial pressure (not to mention the widespread anti-smoker climate) and give up the habit. The sad news is that even if you grit your teeth and stop smoking, as far as the insurance companies are concerned you are not out of the woods (or the Woodbines) for at least 12 months or maybe much longer. Some may require complete cessation for at least five years – contact your intended insurers after 12 months completely smoking free and see how the premiums look now. A considerable cost reduction should be evident.
Some folks cheat themselves and their friends by claiming to have stopped smoking when they are still sneaking the odd one in dark corners. This is up to the individual, but don’t try it with your insurers; it would not be difficult for a relatively low-key enquiry to expose the lie and your cover (in both meanings of the word!) would be blown. All the effort, the subterfuge, the self-deceiving would have been wasted. You would not be insured.
Right, you have made the praiseworthy and not inconsiderable effort and you are now a non-smoker. You can feel some justifiable pride as you tick the ‘NO’ box on a form with a smoking query. Now take advantage of your position, get on the internet and shop around for insurance quotes. You may be pleasantly surprised by some of the offers which you get, but don’t let your euphoria get the better of you. A move too soon, before everything has been confirmed, could leave you with a cancelled policy with your old company and an oversight leading to rejection by your new company; result no cover. Check the details carefully, finalise all the figures and then change to your new insurer.
Finally, don’t let those savings in expenditure just melt away. Add the money saved on cigarette purchases to the money saved on reduced premiums and invest it, and just watch that total climb!