There’s bad news for vapers, as far as life insurance companies are concerned, you’re just a plain, ordinary smoker and, for the time being, it looks like nothing is going to change.
For insurance companies, it’s all about the nicotine
From a medical perspective, there are two major reasons why regular smoking is bad for you. The nicotine is certainly one of them, but the other is the actual smoke, which you will inevitably inhale when smoking (hence the name).
Vaping provides the nicotine without the smoke, so while nobody would suggest that it was good for you, it’s generally acknowledged to be a whole lot less bad for you than smoking. How much less bad for you may be open to debate, but certainly less bad.
Sadly for vapers, life insurance companies do not acknowledge any difference between smoking and vaping and, as it stands, it is unlikely that they are going to do so any time soon.
The issue of trust and nicotine/cotinine
Customers complain that insurance companies throw barriers in the way of making a claim. Insurance companies complain that policyholders make fraudulent claims. In reality, both statements have at least some truth to them, although they are not necessarily as true as either side might like to make out.
What is, however, very definitely true is that life insurance companies tend to work on the basis of “trust but verify” or, in other words, they will select a certain percentage of claimants for screening to confirm, beyond reasonable science-based doubt, whether or not they were telling the truth about not being smokers.
At the current time, the test of choice for this is called the nicotine/cotinine test, which is hugely effective at detecting the presence of nicotine in a person’s urine. In fact, if the person used to be a heavy smoker, it can pick up traces of nicotine weeks after they had their last cigarette.
What it can’t do is distinguish between nicotine consumed through smoking and nicotine consumed by any other source, including vaping.
What does this mean for vapers?
It would be nice to think that the insurance industry would be busily working on a way to solve this problem, but even if they are, there is no guarantee that they will be able to make any meaningful changes (without opening themselves up to a high risk of fraud) since this could potentially mean developing new, scientifically- and legally-acceptable tests.
In the short term, therefore, vapers will probably have to grit their teeth and deal with the issue, but, looking on the bright side, this minor irritation may help to push vapers to take the next step and start reducing their nicotine consumption until they get it down to zero and once they have been “clean” for a year, they can then legitimately class themselves as non-smokers and get better life insurance premiums.
They can also carry on using their vape for fun (if you enjoy producing big clouds of smoke) just by using nicotine-free eliquids.