How do Health Insurance Companies know if you smoke?

By Laxita Gautam
  | Published: 26 October 2021

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Lifestyle choices are one of the main things that insurance companies consider when quoting you a price for health insurance plans. Even though it may sound like something very mundane, lifestyle choices make a huge impact on our health. Smoking is one of these choices that will affect the shape of your medical insurance in the UAE. The question surrounding smokers and health insurance plans is age-old. One of these questions is – how do insurance companies know if you smoke? Is there a way to hide your smoking habits? Should you even hide your smoking habits? What can be the repercussions of that? Is there a thing like health insurance for smokers? Let’s discuss these important questions that can make or break your health insurance plan easily.  

How Do health Insurance Companies Know If You Smoke?

Now, it is evident that health insurance companies do not investigate every potential policyholder for their smoking habits when an application is submitted to buy health insurance. The only way a health insurance company can know about your smoking habits beforehand is if you tell them yourself. As an ethical code of conduct, it is the policyholder’s responsibility to tell the insurance provider about their smoking habits and tobacco intake – in whatever form it may be.

Another way for insurance companies to find out about your smoking habits is by your medical records. Whenever you submit a claim request, claim investigators track your medical history to make sure that your claim is legitimate. Smoking causes several problems in general, which are often visible in your blood routine and urine tests. Whenever you get a routine test, your doctor will make a note of your smoking records, just to keep track of your present condition and to co-relate them in the future. These records are often made accessible to insurance companies upon investigation.

There is a measurement scale using which insurance companies determine whether your smoking habits can be considered frequent enough to be an influential factor in health insurance for smokers. The general criteria say that if you smoke more than 4 times a week during the last 6 months, insurance companies can apply tobacco rating to the insurance premium.

What is Tobacco Rating?

Tobacco rating is the surcharge or loading on the price of health insurance for smokers that is applied when the policyholder is found to have smoking habits. Tobacco rating is often something that insurance providers use to encourage policyholders to quit smoking. Tobacco rating and surcharge can differ for every region as well as provider. The price of health insurance for smokers can increase up to 1.5 per cent if a tobacco surcharge is applied.

Can You Hide Your Smoking Habits from Insurance Providers?

Well, technically, you can hide your smoking habits from your insurance company initially. But it is not going to stay hidden forever. Eventually, when you submit a claim for some kind of treatment down the road, your health records will open up your history. Not to mention there will be repercussions for hiding your health records from your insurance company like there generally are. But it can be much worse in the case of smoking.  

What are the Implications of Hiding Your Smoking Habits?

The results of hiding your smoking habits and claiming reimbursement or coverage can land you in serious trouble. Firstly, the claim that you make will be denied if the insurance company finds out about your smoking habits. On top of that, you may even get charged with health insurance fraud. If the claim amount has already been paid, you will have to return all the paid-out amounts and await further action on the case. In a nutshell, hiding something like smoking from your insurer can be a very risky gamble, not to mention unethical. Casual smoking, on the other hand, is often considered unimportant as far as health insurance for smokers is concerned.

What Happens if You Start Smoking After Taking the Insurance?

Another possibility, in this case, is that you already had bought the insurance plan when you weren’t smoking but started later on. Beginning smoking later when you have already bought the plan is not unethical in any way. However, yet again, you will have to inform your insurance provider of the said lifestyle change. As a result of smoking, your health insurance premium will come with a tobacco surcharge in the upcoming renewal.

What Happens if You Stop Smoking?

Going along the same lines, some people may decide to stop smoking after they have already bought their medical insurance in the UAE with a tobacco surcharge. If that’s the case, the policyholder should inform the insurance company about this lifestyle change. The insurance company will stop considering you a smoker if you smoke less than four times a week for the next six months. Once your progress is recorded, a tobacco surcharge is removed from your health insurance for smokers plan.

In a Nutshell

Being truthful with your insurance company has been preached for a very long time now. Whether it is smoking that needs to be bought to the attention of your provider or a new health condition that you recently developed, being honest only benefits the policyholder in the end. Claims do not get denied and one does not have to constantly worry about insurance payout while already being stressed about the illness. And, as explained, insurance companies can indeed trace your medical history when you submit the claim. So, it is best advisable to lay all your cards on the table when buying medical insurance in the UAE – not just to avoid claim denials but also legal actions.

Laxita Gautam
Laxita Gautam0 Post

Senior Content Writer | She functions on classic British fiction, Japanese manga, and strong americanos. Laxita is tailor-made to create engaging, interactive pieces that offer simplified insights into complex subjects.