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How smoking affects your health insurance premium

18 September, 2019

In Health Insurance, it is a common misconception that smokers face multiple obstacles for getting an excellent and comprehensive policy. That is not the case; but, being a smoker increases the cost of the premium as compared to non-smokers. However, this should not be the reason for not opting for health policy.


Let us understand the issues faced by smokers while buying health insurance and their simple answers -


What constitutes a smoker for insurance purposes?


When you are applying for a health insurance policy, you will be asked two pertinent questions-

  1. Do you smoke?
  2. Have you smoked in the past six months?


If an individual has smoked more than four cigarettes a week and has continued the smoking for at least six months, then he or she will be termed a smoker.


It is considered insurance fraud to lie about your smoking habits. You may be able to save a few rupees at the time of application; however, there will be severe repercussions at the time of claim.


Can you get health insurance if you smoke?

One of the biggest myths among smokers is that they cannot apply for health insurance or that their application might get rejected. It should be noted that the IRDAI has laid down guidelines for insurance companies, and smokers have a right to apply for health insurance. An insurer is allowed to reject an application only for severe health complications that may arise from heavy smoking.


So, smokers can apply for and buy health insurance policies for themselves, however, the terms, conditions, and costs of premium vary from those of non-smokers.


If a smoker quits smoking during the course of the policy, they may be considered as a non-smoker, and respective terms, conditions and premium cost will then be applicable.


Can insurance companies tell if you smoke?

It is crucial to provide correct and complete information at the time of applying for a policy if you wish to get your claims settled hassle-free. Any false information can have severe repercussions during claim settlement and lead to rejection of claim or even cancellation of the health insurance. Even if you do not come under the definition of the smoker for insurance purposes, it is always advisable to mention even light or occasional smoking.


With rising competition and increasing numbers of insurance fraud, the stringency of checks and investigations by insurance companies has increased. Before issuance of policies and while meting out claims, insurers conduct a due medical check-up of the insured.


If you have not informed about the smoking and the condition for which you are applying for a claim is due to smoking, your request will be rejected. The insurer also has the right to cancel your health insurance altogether.


Therefore, it is advisable to declare your smoking habits, even if occasional, while buying the policy. You may have to pay a higher premium. It is better than insurers cancelling your claims or policies if investigation yields it later.


Should smokers have to pay a higher premium for health insurance?

Smokers have to bear a higher cost of the premium than non-smokers, but it is not too steep. However, if your health is deteriorating due to smoking, and it is causing severe health issues, then your premium rates will be increased steeply by the insurance provider.


Excessive smoking leads to a lot of severe health issues which are as follows –

  1. Respiratory complications and diseases
  2. Heart Diseases
  3. Hypertension
  4. Stroke
  5. Emphysema
  6. Cancer (Oral and Lung)
  7. Osteoporosis (primarily in women)
  8. Pregnancy-related complications in women


Looking at the multitude and magnitude of the diseases and the resultant deaths caused by smoking, it is justified to have higher health insurance premiums for smokers.


However, a higher premium is not the general rule. Every insurance company conducts comprehensive medical tests before issuance of a policy. Your health condition, nature, and duration of your smoking, and its effect on your health are overall taken into consideration before determining your premium. So it is better to apply for the policy and undergo the tests as each case will be treated uniquely and discretely.