Research in the US shows that smoking can add 15% to 50% extra to the cost of your annual health insurance policy*. This means that for people in the UK who spend an average of £1,435 per year on their health insurance premiums, could spend up to £700 more per year because they smoke.
Why Are Smokers Charged More for Health Insurance?
Smoking is proven to lower life expectancy by around 10 years* and is also closely linked to diseases such as lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema.
The impact of smoking causes the price of annual health insurance policies to increase since there is the greater risk that the individual will need treatment or be required to make a claim.
Smokers can claim for diagnostic procedures, operations, overnight stays in hospital, medication and more – although some of these may be limited or excluded if you are a smoker. For this reason, it is always important to read the terms of your health insurance policy.
Smoking by Numbers
- There are around 7 million smokers in the UK (around 14% of the population)
- There were 77,000 related smoking deaths last year
- Smoking costs the UK economy £13bn per year, including £3bn to the NHS
Quit Smoking and Reduce Your Premiums
If you quit smoking completely and can medically prove this to your insurer and that your health has improved, your annual premium can be significantly reduced.
Stay Healthy and Active to Reduce Your Premiums
Similarly, if you remain in good health and continue to exercise, there are a number of UK insurers that will reward this. You will need to show proof that you are exercising and that you are maintaining good health and this can be achieved through an annual medical.
You are rewarded with a lower premium because staying active and in good shape can lower the risk of making a health insurance claim or contracting illnesses or conditions such as diabetes, muscle injuries and heart problems.
Other Ways to Reduce the Cost of Your Health Insurance Premium Include:
Pay a Higher Excess
If you choose to pay a higher excess, you are agreeing to fit more of the bill and pay a higher fee upfront if you need to make a claim. As a thank you, you will be rewarded by your insurer with a lower annual premium.
This might be a practical if you are healthy and rarely claim, but if you find that you need to claim one day, you will need to pay high sum before the claim can be made.
Fortunately, once you pay the excess, you can continue to claim for the rest of the year or before your policy is up for renewal.
Avoid Making a Claim
Every time you make a claim, you are causing the insurer to pay out. So if you can avoid making a claim each year, you are considered a ‘better value customer.’
There are some UK insurers which keep your premiums the same even if you do not claim, some will offer a small discount or some will offer a huge discount of up to 65% if you build up a ‘no claims discount.’
However, if you do claim, you are likely to see an increase in your renewal or next annual premium.
Some UK insurers can offer up to 10% discount if you pay your health insurance premium upfront rather than every month. This will depend on the insurer, but for some households it can be a lot more cost-effective to pay each month instead.