Contrary to popular belief, smokers can avail a Health Insurance plan albeit with some strings attached. Let’s find out more.
There’s a growing misconception that it’s nearly impossible for smokers to be approved for a Health Insurance plan. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, Health Insurance companies do offer coverage to smokers albeit with some strings attached that come in the form of more stringent terms and conditions. However, one basic difference between Health Insurance plans for smoker and non-smokers is that smokers have to pay higher insurance premiums. Let’s find out more.
How Can A Smoker Get A Health Insurance Policy?
Health Insurance companies define a smoker as someone who uses nicotine in any form. Insurance companies perform medical tests to detect regular smokers to determine the quantum of premiums of coverage. When you sign up for a Health Insurance plan, insurers will inquire about your smoking habits. Typical questions that get thrown at smokers are the number of cigarettes they smoke in a day to the health conditions that they suffered as a result of the smoking habit.
To adhere to their underwriting norms, insurers may request you to undergo some medical tests if you’ve declared the smoking habit. Insurers also consider your age and the sum assured that you’ve opted for in the plan. If you’re a smoker, it’s advisable that you get your medical tests done by the insurance company at the time of buying the policy. This will reduce the chances of any dispute that may arise during the claim settlement process.
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During the term of your insurance policy, keep your insurer apprised of any changes in your lifestyle or health so as to eliminate the possibility of any dispute during the claim settlement process. Changes in your lifestyle could include an increase in the number of cigarettes that you smoke to deteriorating health. Health insurers determine premiums based on your state of health and the seriousness of your pre-existing illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Insurers may reject policies for smokers suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Any complication like a lung condition that may later develop due to smoking will be covered by the Health Insurance plan. Insurers may reject out rightly proposals of those who smoke 20-40 cigarette packets a day.
Are There Different Health Insurance Plans For Smokers And Non-Smokers?
No, there’s no difference in the Health Insurance plans that are offered to smokers and non-smokers. Before issuing a Health Insurance policy, insurers look at daily tobacco consumption and the state of a person’s health. If a prospect is over 40 years old or seeks a high sum assured, insurers may insist on medical tests. If the medical test reveals a health complication, that specific ailment is excluded in the initial years of the plan.
The underwriting norms vary across companies. Chain smokers and addicts may face outright rejection whereas some companies may not load premiums for smokers at all. Insurers even offer you the option of taking up smoking cessation programmes by them and lower your insurance premiums for it. But you’ll most likely have to abstain from smoking for at least two years before your premiums drop.
Why Does A Smoker Need Health Insurance?
Many smokers are of the impression that insurers do not issue Health Insurance policies to smokers because they consider all future ailments to be the result of smoking. However, this isn’t true. At the time of applying for the policy, make honest and proper disclosures about your health and medical condition. As a smoker, having a Health Insurance cover is if paramount importance as you’re likely to develop respiratory illnesses, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, lung cancer etc. than non-smokers.
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Smokers are apprehensive about availing Health Insurance because they believe that their claims may be partially or fully rejected. The insurer may reject a claim if you withhold information about a related ailment that was caused due to smoking. Generally, insurers have a waiting period of 2-4 years for pre-existing diseases. These pre-existing diseases will be the same for both smokers and non-smokers, though there might be some exclusion for smokers. Health Insurers conduct medical tests at the time of claims, so if you’ve been dishonest about your medical condition at the time of signing up for the policy, they might reject your claims. If you’ve declared that you smoke two cigarettes a day while you actually smoke six, the nicotine will show up in your blood and urine tests.
Many smokers lie about their smoking habit at the time of availing Health Insurance. If the insurer finds out that you’re a smoker at a later stage, it is wilful non-disclosure of material information that may lead to rejection of your claim.
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