#WorldNoTobaccoDay: The effects of smoking on your life-insurance cover

Vapers and cannabis consumers will end up paying, if not with their health, on their increased insurance premiums.
Vapers and cannabis consumers will end up paying, if not with their health, on their increased insurance premiums.
Image: Supplied

While it might seem superfluous to harp on about the negative effects of smoking on health – it’s nothing smokers haven’t heard before – there are other angles to consider.

One is the implications of smoking cannabis and vaping, both often thought safer than smoking tobacco, for your insurance policies.

Cannabis

The Constitutional Court legalised the private consumption of dagga in 2018, however, there are other aspects to consider. When it comes to underwriting insurance policies, cannabis smokers are, effectively, classified as smokers.

Dr Helen Weber, medical adviser at Sanlam, explains that because cannabis affects the brain, and due to its link to psychosis, mental illness and risky behaviours, the insurance underwriting risk for a smoker is deemed much higher than someone who doesn’t smoke.

That said, a regular cannabis user will be risk rated based on factors such as how frequently they smoke; their history of addiction and treatment thereof; the use of cannabis in combination with other substances; age; occupation; the financial services products being applied for and existing medical conditions.

The long and short of it is your premium will be determined by how frequently you partake, how much dagga you consume and whether you use other substances alongside it.

Vaping

Vaping is a newish phenomenon and the latest studies are showing it is not as harmless as originally made out to be. While vapers might smell better, when it comes to underwriting insurance policies, they are classified as smokers and are risk rated the same way.

Case-by-case basis

Weber says each case is assessed on its own merits. However, insurance companies have a credo when it comes to smoking – be it tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes or cannabis.

“Right now, there’s lots of grey area. We don’t know enough about the long-term side effects of vaping and there is an important distinction between recreational and medicinal use of cannabis and the long-term impact of both,” says Weber.

What we do know, however, is that you will end up paying, if not with your health, on your increased insurance premiums.

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