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How E-Cigarettes Can Affect Your Life Insurance Premium

It’s well known that one of the most significant differences in life insurance premiums comes down to whether you’re classified as a smoker vs a non-smoker. But, did you know that using e-cigarettes or vaping can result in higher life cover premium rates?
Fact Checked

Updated: 19 May 2024

E-cigarettes and life insurance have long been the subject of public, media and regulatory attention, especially since it’s illegal to buy, process or use liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes across Australia. This is largely due to the range of components in the juice and the variety of delivery devices.

Let’s start with a quick clarification on what electronic cigarettes are before we get into the topic of vaping and life insurance.

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Are e-cigarettes and vaping the same thing?

Sort of. An e-cigarette is an electronic device shaped like a cigarette-, cigar or pen that heats up the e-liquid inside to the right temperature to create vapour. Vaping is the action that is performed when inhaling and exhaling that vapour. The e-liquid, or e-juice, is generally made up of 4 components, including Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerine, flavourings and nicotine.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

The safety of e-cigs cannot yet be determined due to the lack of evidence regarding its long-term effects. Compared to smoking, research studies suggest that vaping has significantly lower health risks. However, nicotine, even in small dosages remains highly addictive. When vaping without nicotine, there is still no conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes are harmless.

Are e-cigarettes legal in Australia?

In Australia, it is currently illegal to sell, use or possess electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine. According to the World Health Organisation, most products that contain chemicals and get inhaled into the lungs should go through rigorous testing to prove they are safe. These tests have not yet been conducted in Australia, and thus safety cannot be guaranteed.

While e-cigarettes themselves are not illegal to be imported into Australia, they are not allowed to be sold under the guise of quitting devices or make any claim of therapeutic benefit. Selling the devices could also be problematic as under state and territory legislation, it is prohibited to sell goods which resemble tobacco products.

Is vaping considered smoking for insurance purposes?

Yes, you are generally still considered a smoker and smoker rates will apply when you vape, and the electronic cigarette contains nicotine. However, the jury is still out regarding vaping with zero-nicotine. To qualify for non-smoker rates, most companies will require you to quit smoking and abstain from nicotine use for a full 12 months.

Currently, when applying for life cover, insurers will typically ask whether you use any nicotine products. If you answer untruthfully, for example, you have the occasional e-cigarette at a party, and you one day need to lodge a claim, your benefit might be declined due.

Although all insurers have different definitions of what constitutes a smoker, most will require you to pay higher premiums if you: