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How does smoking affect your insurance premiums?

Posted on February 9, 2021
Hands holding broken cigarette

When you shop for home insurance, you’ll be asked a handful of questions-the answers to which will determine the amount you pay for your policy. Some of the questions will be about your home; others will be about the people who live in it.

One question you will likely be asked is whether or not there is a smoker living in your household.  Your smoking status, and that of the other people you live with, is more than just an inquiry into your health; smokers are actually more likely to have a structural fire than non-smokers.

In fact, improperly extinguished cigarettes are one of the leading causes of structural fires. Furthermore, in fatal, preventable house fires, the #1 ignition source is smoking materials, such as cigarettes and pipes and they accounted for 25% of all fatal fires making them the leading cause of fatal fire ignition, above cooking equipment, matches and lighters, and electrical fires. As a result, smoking or living with a smoker can affect your insurance premium.

Despite this data and mass communications of the adverse health effects of smoking, both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia have a higher than average percentage of people who smoke daily or occasionally. It’s little wonder, then, that insurance providers are concerned about insuring smokers; particularly here in Atlantic Canada.

It’s difficult to estimate just how much smoking will affect your rate, but some experts estimate that it can inflate your premium by as much as 20%. So that’s another reason perhaps to consider kicking that habit!

Instead of penalizing those who smoke, insurance companies give discounts to individuals who don’t smoke and who live in smoker free households. However, it is important to note that when an insurance company asks if you smoke, it encompasses much more than cigarettes. Insurers group all of the following under the term smoking:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Joints
  • Bongs
  • Pipes
  • Vapes

If you, or someone you live with, uses any of these products in or on the property, you (they) are considered a smoker and do not qualify for a non-smoker’s discount.

Some people might say, “what your insurance company doesn’t know won’t hurt them.” Not quite.  If you are a smoker, honesty is the best policy. Misrepresenting your smoking habits to your insurer can give them grounds to invalidate your policy in the case of a fire.

You are also responsible for updating your broker or insurance company on any changes during the policy’s duration. For example, if you apply for home insurance while you do not smoke, then a few months into the policy, you pick up smoking you do need to edit your coverage and let your broker know.  And if you recently quit, make sure to ring up your broker and let them know.  Some savings might be available!

Remember, it’s always better to be transparent about your lifestyle, even if it means paying a higher premium. If you would like more information on potential home insurance discounts, or if you have any questions on your home or auto insurance, please contact Munn Insurance toll free at 1-855-726-8627 today.