Vapor cigarettes, also called electronic cigarettes, have taken the country by storm, so it’s only natural that they would affect basic things like life insurance. But even though we reported here a year ago that online life insurance quote company YourLifeSolution.com was adding policy options for vapers, it hasn’t led to a trend. No, it appears that for most life insurance companies, if you use any of the vapor cigarette brands they will treat you as if you are buying traditional tobacco cigarettes. This insistence on throwing the e-vapor industry in with the cigarette industry is no doubt frustrating, although we can’t expect it to last forever, can we?
In the meantime if you use vapor cigarettes and are in the market for life insurance, don’t expect to be treated any differently than a smoker. Part of the problem with the classification of e-vapor has to do with actually testing vapers. “At the moment, there is no way to distinguish an ecigarette user from a tobacco smoker via cotinine screening, a routine test for most insurance applicants,” said Bill Moore. Moore, the vice president of Underwriting and Medical for Munich American, added in a press release “While the long-term health risks associated with ecigarettes remain unclear, most insurers are erring on the side of caution in order to appropriately price and manage risk.”
The assessment by Moore with regard to vapor cigarette brands and their products affect on the insurance industry seems to be the norm. Munich American Reassurance Co. conducted a survey last year of insurance companies and the results show that e-vapor still has a long way to go when it comes to making an impact on insurance pricing. Only 41% of insurers did have some type of underwriting guidelines for vapor cigarettes, but even from that number 82% still classified them as tobacco products. Of the remaining 59% that didn’t have specific policy to include ecigs, 76% of their underwriters believe that e-vapor needs to be treated the same way as tobacco.
Vapor cigarettes below even common cigars
Okay, so how about we take a step back and look at things through the eyes of an underwriter for a minute. You can say that these guys are just doing their job and that the e-vapor industry is just too new to make any assumptions on what vapor cigarettes are doing to their customers.
If you want to be pragmatic about it, you may just want to cover all your bases and just include vaping in there with smoking.
It may seem extreme, being that a middle ground can and should be created, but these guys are only interested in numbers and clear facts.
Right now, the facts are just in the works (although they do look good for vapor cigarettes users for the most part). We should let them have a pass, right?
Wrong. Take a look at how they treat other categories of tobacco products and tell us how it makes sense to throw ecigarettes in with traditional tobacco cigarettes. Lets take a look at cigars first, which are often misunderstood to be “okay” for you but really are just like smoking dozens if not hundreds of cigarettes all at once. One insurer, AIG, will consider your smoking a cigar a “non-factor” if you smoke no more than once a week. Once a week! Surely others can’t be taking the same position. No, maybe not the same, but similar. Transamerica will limit you to one cigar a month, while MetLife will give you four “celebrator” cigars a year. Are we seeing something wrong with this picture? These aren’t even e-cigars we are talking about, they are regular old traditional tobacco kind.
It has to be said that all of these companies will mandate that you have no nicotine in your urine when tested and that you haven’t used another tobacco product in the past five years. But, come on, once a week? Tell us how that isn’t just as bad as smoking, if not worse. This demonization of vapor cigarette brands by lumping their customers in with those of traditional tobacco cigarettes is just wrong, and despite the move from YourLifeSolution.com last year to take this into account, things aren’t moving in the right direction nearly fast enough.
Vapor cigarettes still save you money elsewhere
For you, this means that life insurance will continue to be more expensive than it should be. On average, twice as expensive compared to that of non-smoker policies. While we know making the switch to ecigarettes has numerous advantages and you probably weren’t thinking of life insurance rates when you went for vapor cigarettes, this is still disappointing. It is another signal of the divide between vapers and society with regard to how we see ecigarettes and their impact on our lives, and in this case potential deaths (morbid, we know).
The good news is that vapor cigarettes, or ecigarettes, whatever you decide to call them, still save you money. The cost of vaping is lower than smoking across the board, and sometimes significantly so. First hand we have seen former smokers save thousands of dollars each year by making the switch, and don’t think they aren’t enjoying that extra wad of cash. This is just a straight comparison, before we throw in things like extra dry cleaning costs, paint and drape renewal costs if you smoke indoors, and other expenses that come up when you are a chronic smoker. So life insurance won’t be cheaper, for now. We expect that to change, but in the meantime we’ll enjoy all the benefits of vaping and demand the world come to its senses.