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Can smoking increase the cost of my travel insurance?

If you have a medical condition or disability finding a specialist travel insurance provider can seem like hard work sometimes, especially when some standard policies can’t offer cover. But without adequate travel insurance to cover your medical condition(s), an injury or illness abroad can lead to thousands of pounds in medical bills.

Many specialist travel cover providers assess each customer on a case-by-case basis, taking into account factors such as the date of a customer’s diagnosis and the kind of treatments the customer has had. However there is another factor that can affect the amount you pay for travel insurance and that is smoking!

One of the biggest lifestyle risk factors from smoking is that you can be more prevalent to developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease otherwise known as COPD. Stopping smoking is the best way to prevent smoking-related diseases such as COPD, cancers and heart disease.

We are constantly reminded of the health dangers of smoking tobacco, as it has serious implications on your health and when it comes to buying insurance on your pocket as well. Specialist insurance providers take the risks posed by smoking very seriously. This can result in increased premiums as smokers can be more at risk of claiming due to illness, compared to a non-smoker.

Here’s an example of how smoking can affect your Free Spirit premium if you suffer with COPD:

Prices are based on a Single Trip policy for an individual aged 46, travelling to Spain for 2 weeks with the following answers (prices obtained from the Free Spirit website on the 29th September 2015):

COPD:

1. How many medicines are prescribed for your breathing condition (count each inhaler as one medicine)?

1-2

2. How many hospital admissions have you had for your breathing condition in the last year?

One

3. How short of breath do you get when you are walking on the flat?

I get mildly short of breath when I walk 200 yard but do not need to rest.

4. Have you ever been prescribed oxygen other than when you are in hospital?

No

5. Have you ever been a smoker?

Yes – still smoking

6. In the last year have you had a chest infection or an episode of pneumonia?

Yes

Respiratory infection:

1. How many episodes have you had that required treatment with antibiotics in the last year?

One

2. Has the infection fully resolved?

Yes

3. Have you ever been diagnosed with any of the following conditions?

None of these

smoker

What if I quit smoking – will my premiums go down?

Yes, they could be reduced by as much as 40% if your answer to the following question is:

Have you ever been a smoker?
No or gave up 1-10 years ago

The premiums are reduced to:

non-smoker

Kicking the habit for at least 12 months is one of the most effective ways of driving down insurance costs.

Are you eager to kick the habit but not really sure when to start?

Well there is no better time than right now. October sees the return of Stoptober the public health campaign to help smokers kick the habit. It’s based on the belief that after 28 days without a cigarette and with support and encouragement, smokers are five times more likely to give up smoking for good. Go on, you know you want to, sign up today and be smoke-free by the end of October?

According to GOV.UK research shows that smokers are 67% more likely to quit when their spouse stops smoking, and a third more likely to quit when a close friend or someone they work with stops. The data also shows that individuals are much more likely to smoke if their partner or a close friend smokes, showing the powerful influence that people’s social networks have on their own smoking behaviour.

Over a quarter of a million people across the country signed up to Stoptober last year with more than half making it to 28 days. This year, it is expected the campaign will welcome the millionth sign up. By stopping smoking for 28 days you are 5 times more likely to stop for good.

Supporting the campaign, Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

“Smoking is still our biggest preventable killer: 80,000 people die a year in England because of smoking, and so stopping smoking is the single best thing a person can do for their health.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing for PHE also said:

“The benefits of stopping smoking are almost immediate: quitters will soon see reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. It is one of the best things a person can do to improve their health and reduce their chances of developing long-term conditions and dying prematurely.”

I’ve never been a smoker and have no idea how difficult it must be to ‘give-up’ especially if you’ve had the habit for a long time. What I do know, is that I would much prefer to have extra money in my pocket because of the reduced travel insurance cost and, just think how much extra you could save over the course of a year from not buying cigarettes, it could be the cost of a holiday!

Good luck in your quest to be smoke-free. It will be worth it not just for your pocket but also for your overall health.