Does “Vaping” Affect Life Insurance Premiums?


Vaping is a fast growing habit, at least partially intended to reduce reliance on cigarette smoking. Though you might think that that fact alone what endear vapers to the insurance industry, it’s actually quite the opposite. Even though vaping has generally been shown to be considerably less of a health hazard than cigarette smoking, life insurance companies often link the two as one in the same.

What is Vaping?

Vaping is short for vaporizing. Unlike cigarettes, in which you are inhaling the smoke from burning tobacco, vaping involves inhaling steam that is produced from heated liquids. The vaporizer device itself, which looks something like an updated 21st-century version of a tobacco pipe, is often referred to as the electronic cigarette, or simply an e-cigarette.

The reason vaping is considered safer than cigarette smoking is that you are inhaling water vapor, rather than smoke. In addition, though the juices that are put into e-cigarettes typically do contain nicotine, it’s usually in weaker doses than what is found in cigarettes. And some vape juices contain no nicotine at all.

Though vaping only came about in 2007, it is now estimated that as many as 10% of Americans participate in the activity.

Obviously, a big part of the attraction of vaping is the fact that it’s new, and that makes it exciting. It is mostly being embraced by younger participants, particularly high school and college kids and young adults.

But another major draw is the prospect that it is less hazardous than actual cigarette smoking. For better or worse, however, not everyone agrees that vaping is necessarily healthier than traditional cigarette smoking.

Is Vaping Healthier than Cigarettes?

There are many factions arguing in favor of vaping as being, at a minimum, healthier than cigarettes. But research coming from official sources is disputing that claim. In truth, it’s not at all certain which side is right. Vaping is still too new, and the research that has been done is not particularly deep.

But what matters most for official purposes is what the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) thinks about vaping. And they don’t have a high opinion of it at all.

While cigarette smoking involves 69 carcinogenic compounds, the vape juices used in vaping contain just five. And since most juices do include at least some nicotine, the FDA believes that there is little difference between vaping and cigarette smoking.

At the same time, there are also people in official circles who argue that vaping represents a legitimate smoking cessation program, and should be seen in a more preferential light than tobacco smoking.

The research is ongoing, and the argument seems to swing back and forth between the two extremes. Which will ultimately win out is still very much an open question, since the practice itself is so new, and research continues.

Still another problem is that the vaping industry is highly decentralized. There are thousands of small operators who are selling and manufacturing both e-cigarettes and vape juices. The absence of standardization makes it extremely difficult to make an across-the-board judgment for or against the practice. While some units and juices may be perfectly safe, there may be others that are quite the opposite.

But this is an article about life insurance, so let’s circle back and discuss the impact that vaping has on applying for a policy.

How Do Insurance Companies View Vaping?

The practice of vaping is still in its infancy, so exactly how it is treated by life insurance companies is subject to some debate. Until recently, there have been companies that would grant life insurance policies for vapers with better ratings and lower premiums than would be the case for traditional smokers.

But there is something of a gray zone that complicates how insurance companies underwrite applicants who engage in the practice. Though vaping is often sold as a smoking cessation product – which insurance companies generally favor – it nonetheless has a very high incidence of “dual use” practitioners. That is, people who vape but also continue to smoke traditional cigarettes.

This has put the vast majority of life insurance companies in the camp of considering vapers to be traditional smokers. In other words, life insurance companies don’t differentiate between vaping and smoking – it’s all considered to be smoking, and subject to higher premiums.

In May 2016, the FDA made a definitive judgment in regard to vaping. They now officially classify vaping and related equipment as tobacco, or collectively as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). Vaping is now subject to regulation by the FDA.

What’s a Vaper to Do if He or She Needs Life Insurance?

If you are a vaper and in need of life insurance, your best approach is to be completely honest on your application. Depending upon the company, you might have to indicate yourself to be a smoker. But there may be ways to indicate that you are strictly a vaper, rather than an actual tobacco user.

This may be a possibility in the event you are not a dual user – you truly are a vaper only , and don’t simultaneously smoke cigarettes. Some companies have definitions in regard to the cigarette smoking component of a vaper’s history. For example, they may enable you to say that you are not a cigarette smoker if you have not smoked a cigarette in say, two years.

You have to be absolutely truthful in this regard. The insurance company can order tests to verify your tobacco usage through blood, saliva, and urine tests. This will indicate nicotine in your body. It can even indicate whether or not the source of the nicotine is actual cigarettes or e-cigarettes.

Applying for life insurance when you are a vaper is obviously more complicated than it is in other situations. If you are a vaper and need life insurance, contact us and we will work to place your application with the most vaper-friendly insurance companies available. You’ll almost certainly pay a higher premium than you will if you are a true non-tobacco user. But we will make sure that it’s the lowest rate possible. Give us a call and see what we can do for you.