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Life insurance companies have changing attitudes toward e-cigarettes

Life Insurance and Annuities
by Tim DeMars
Life insurance companies have changing attitudes toward e-cigarettes
Life insurance companies have changing attitudes toward e-cigarettes

In the past few years, a new type of "smoking" has become all the rage among many people who used to go through a pack a day, and the attitudes of the life insurance industry are quickly changing as a result. There has been a significant debate about electronic cigarettes, and what they could mean for consumers, but insurers seem to have already made a fairly firm decision.

When it comes to using e-cigs, it seems that many life insurance companies have made the decision to treat them in more or less exactly the same way as regular cigarettes when it comes to policyholders who use them, according to a report from Bloomberg News. In general it's estimated that traditional cigarettes take about 10 years off a smoker's life expectancy, and that's the expectation for how life insurers are viewing the vaporizers overall: as a serious health and mortality risk.

A recent survey of insurance underwriters found that 89 percent of life insurers consider e-cig users to be just the same as traditional smokers, the report said. Interestingly, though, this may be because they're relatively new; more than half of all companies polled stated that they do not have specific policies for these products yet, but may develop them in the future.

Why is this a problem?
When it comes to e-cigarettes, the issue for insurers and users alike is that there's still no way to know for sure whether they're actually less harmful than normal smoking, and moreover, there isn't really a discernable difference between the two in terms of testing, the report said. A urine or blood test for nicotine will show up for both smokers and e-cig users, meaning that it's impossible to discern which is which, and thus has to be treated by insurers as though the person provides a higher risk overall. At this point, some smokers already tell life insurers that they don't smoke as a means of getting more affordable premiums, and e-cigarettes would provide them a more plausible excuse if treated differently.

Life insurers that are dealing with more e-cigarette users may need to take the time to explain why they treat these products the same as traditional cigarettes, because otherwise that could lead to a lot of frustration and potentially derail sales and customer satisfaction. The more that can be understood about these reasons, the more likely a person may be to accept the realities.

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