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How Does Vaping and e-Cigarettes Affect Life Insurance?

Aug. 24, 2020
4 mins
A young woman sits vaping indoors while listening to music on her smartphone

Many Canadians who smoke may have switched to vaping nicotine through the use of an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or vaping device. These battery-powered devices work by heating a liquid containing nicotine and other chemicals into an aerosol that simulates smoking.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by the federal government entitled, “Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs”, 15% of Canadians (4.6 million people) have tried a vaping product, an increase from 13% (3.9 million) in 2015. Younger Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest usage rates. And of those who have vaped, 65% classify themselves as current smokers, 20% are former smokers, and 15% say they have never smoked cigarettes at all.

If you’re thinking about getting a life insurance policy, you may wonder what, if any, impact does vaping have on premiums.

Can you get a life insurance policy if you vape?

If you smoke or vape, you can still qualify for a life insurance premium, but in all likelihood, you will pay a higher rate than someone who does not smoke or vape.

Vaping is not free of potential health risks. Many insurers may classify vaping in the same way they do smoking, as well as using nicotine-cessation aids like chewing gum or the patch.

Health Canada warns vaping with nicotine can lead to nicotine addiction. Plus, there may be long-term health consequences, though the impacts of inhaling the substances in vaping products are unknown and continue to be assessed. Nevertheless, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada warns vaping is linked to respiratory issues and increased blood pressure.

If you’re in the process of finding a life insurance policy, it’s best to be honest and tell your broker you vape. They can advise you on which coverage suits your needs best to protect you and your family.

After your policy goes into effect, there is what’s known as a contestability period in the first couple of years whereby the insurer may review your life insurance application to ensure you did not misrepresent yourself. That’s all the more reason to be truthful from the get-go if you vape or use e-cigarettes.

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Is vaping a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes?

While the jury is still out on whether or not vaping nicotine is a safe alternative to traditional tobacco smoking, it can be argued inhaling any substance other than oxygen is a potential threat to your health. In the COVID-19 era, that risk may be elevated since COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness.

On that note, the Canadian Cancer Society says vaping among young Canadians is on the rise – an alarming development since youths who vape nicotine are at an increased risk of becoming smokers. The Canadian Cancer Society also highlights tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing nearly 45,000 Canadians each year, including 30% of all cancer deaths.

However, if you smoke or vape but quit and remain nicotine-free for 12 months, an insurer may consider you a non-smoker. Suppose you initiated a policy while you were smoking or vaping. In that case, you can follow-up with your insurer to declare you have been nicotine-free for 12 months, and in turn, get a non-smoker policy at a lower premium. The carrier may ask you to take a urine test to confirm you are entirely nicotine-free.

What protection does a life insurance policy provide?

Life insurance is designed to help protect the ones you love by providing your family with compensation to pay for things like mortgage payments, groceries, and bills. Additionally, it can help cover funeral expenses and additional costs associated with your passing. The size of the payout depends on your policy, but ideally, it should be enough to replace your pre-tax income for five to 10 years. If you have dependents who rely on you financially, such as a spouse, children, or other family members, you should have life insurance.

We did a quick check in August 2020 on RATESDOTCA to find the cheapest life insurance quotes for a fictional 30-year-old living in Ontario who has smoked or vaped in the last 12 months and is seeking a 10-year term $250,000 policy. We compared those rates to someone who does not smoke or vape. There’s a noticeable difference in annual premiums:

Gender Has Smoked or Vaped in the Last 12 Months Has Not Smoked or Vaped in the Last 12 Months
Male $287.50 per year $160 per year
Female $192.50 per year $125 per year

When looking into getting a life insurance policy, the safest way to go is to refrain from smoking and vaping altogether. Not only will you get a more competitive premium and save money, but it’s also better for your health.

Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile marketer with experience as a staff and freelance writer for many business and technology publications and newspapers. He previously worked as the editor and media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA, handling home, auto, and travel insurance topics.

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