I’ve just quit smoking and want to get income protection and life insurance – do I need to tell the insurer?

I’ve just stopped smoking after more than fifteen years and am considering getting insurance – possibly income protection, possibly life insurance.

I currently pay a huge amount for my Virgin Active gym membership and think there are some options for combining insurance and getting money off that.

But how long do I have to have been a non-smoker for my premiums not to be sky-high? How should I approach this? It’s normally at least 12 months after a person has stopped smoking that they are considered to be a non-smoker Emma Walker, of protection insurance adviser LifeSearch, replies: First of all, congratulations on your great achievement.

Stoptober, the health awareness campaign by Public Health England has led to more than 1.5million people trying to quit smoking in Britain, since it was launched in 2012.

The success rate for those actually quitting is the highest it’s been for a decade. So, it’s great news that you’ve successfully quit smoking.

As the British Heart Foundation highlights, smoking can seriously damage the lining of a heart, which then increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

It can also lead to blood clots, increased blood pressure and other serious heart and lung problems, such as coronary heart disease and lung cancer. Emma Walker is a director at specialist protection insurance adviser at LifeSearch Quitting smoking improves a person’s health and brings both short and long-term health benefits.

For example, within two weeks of not smoking, a person’s heart rate and blood pressure levels are shown to drop and the risk of a heart attack decline.

Given the high risk of health issues associated with smoking, it’s understandable that insurers need to take the various health consequences into account when deciding what premium to charge.

It’s normally at least 12 months after a person has stopped smoking that they are considered to be a non-smoker, free of all nicotine products, and eligible for non-smokers rates.

The 12-month period helps to establish that a person has truly quit smoking and not lapsed back into smoking again.

However, it is not recommended that you delay obtaining some protection cover until you are a non-smoker.

Insurers offer a large range of products options that help to make the premiums affordable for smokers.

For example, income protection plans are available to smokers and non-smokers that will pay out a regular amount for a maximum of two years, in the event of someone being unable to work due to ill health.

This is Money has partnered with Cavendish, an independent financial adviser firm specialising in life cover, critical illness cover and income protection.

Alternatively, if you’re not sure what cover you need and you want some help, choose one of the options here and an independent adviser will help you find the right deal for you.

A financial adviser would be able to help assess all the options available and the maximum level of cover you’re able to put in place, with the budget you have available.

Then after 12 months of being smoke-free, they would be able to review the market and potentially obtain a reduction in the cost of your cover, as a non-smoker.

Yes, there are providers in the market, that when arranging protection cover with them also offer a range of health and well-being initiatives to support their customers.

One such provider is VitalityLife, which has an innovative plan which enables their members to receive rewards for continuing to engage in a healthy lifestyle.

This includes discounts of up to 50 per cent off Virgin Active or Nuffield health gym membership as well as other benefits designed to help you stay fit and healthy.

It’s even possible under their healthy living rewards programme to potentially reduce the monthly cost of life cover premiums and receive cashback, if you maintain a healthy life as a non-smoker.

A financial adviser will be able to explain the various benefits available in more detail.

Sarah Davidson, of This is Money, adds: We often think of buying life cover online from price comparison sites because it’s possible to search the whole of the market and find the cheapest quote in a matter of minutes.

But it’s not necessarily the best idea to do this. You may not know how much you should be insuring yourself for and it’s unlikely that the quote will be tailored to your individual circumstances.

At This is Money, we do think it’s worth speaking to an adviser if you’re looking for protection, especially if you want more than simple life insurance.

That said, if you’re determined to go it alone there are plenty of options available.

You can buy cover online from a number of price comparison websites Compare the Market , Confused or Moneysupermarket offer a good range of products and will quote you based on averages. When you apply directly to the insurer, they will then provide you with a personal premium offer.

Alternatively, you can get a personalised quote online by answering some basic questions – This is Money has partnered with Cavendish Online to offer our readers exactly this option, for the cheapest price anywhere in the market.

You can complete the whole journey online or you can choose to chat to an adviser if you prefer, at any time. THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST PROTECTION INSURANCE DEALS

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