Figures released recently by the Health Development Agency confirm that smoking is killing around 83,200 people a year in England. It is the largest cause of illness and significantly decreases smokers expected life-span.

Speak to any reformed smoker and they will tell you just how difficult it was to overcome the habit, although invariably they enthuse about their improved health and the saving in money. Did you know that smokers spend an incredible 92,000 on cigarettes, on average, during their lifetime? How’s that for an incentive to quit?

It’s not only the cost of the cigarettes that they’ll save on. Life and critical illness insurance premiums will be healthier too smokers can pay up to double the cost of their insurance cover. With the increased accessibility to information on the internet, people have been searching for ever lower prices for their insurance cover. This has led to a price war with insurance companies battling to retain their share of the market. In an effort to recoup some of the lost revenue, insurers have tightened their criteria and now insist that smokers must pay an increased premium to cover the health risk which their habit fuels. The standard rates for these insurance policies shown in insurance advertisements are for the fit and healthy and clearly the risks to which smokers expose themselves take them out of this category.

For even more incentive, smoking bans are now in place in enclosed public places in Scotland and Ireland and England will be joining them around mid 2007. An impressive number of people have given up their smoking habit as a result of this.

Once you’ve achieved your goal and broken the habit, you’ll have to convince your insurer that you’re a reformed character! You need to have given up smoking for between 1 and 5 years (most companies would be happy with 1

year) before you can be counted as a non-smoker. Then you can contact your company and ask them to re-quote. You’ll see a very much reduced premium. At this stage it’s worth trying the internet to see if you can save even more money. It would be as well to wait until your new insurer has checked your health details and accepted your application before cancelling your current cover.

It’s no trouble to cancel a policy stop paying! If you cancel your direct debit the insurer will contact you fairly quickly to see what’s going on. You then need to tell them that you no longer require the cover. Cancellation charges will not apply.

Talking of health details, please be completely truthful when you fill in the proposal form. In the event of making a claim, your insurer will approach your Doctor for confirmation of your non-smoking status and if you’re found to have misled them, your claim will be refused due to non disclosure of facts.

However long you’ve been a smoker, the improvement in your health gained by quitting is very worthwhile. Remember, to miss-quote someone famous, “Tis better to have smoked and stopped, then never to have stopped at all!” Or something like that.

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