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How does smoking affect health insurance premiums?

Anyone who has bought a health insurance policy would know about questions related to smoking and tobacco habits in the application form. These habits are not good for health and therefore, insurance companies consider them when selling a mediclaim policy.

A smoker looking to buy health insurance may have many doubts and concerns in mind. Can someone who smokes buy a mediclaim policy? Is it necessary to disclose and what are the consequences of nondisclosure? Will it impact the health insurance premium, and so on? Let us look at the various aspects of smoking and mediclaim policy.

Am I a smoker?

Although smoking generally means smoking cigarettes and bidis, in insurance it has a broader meaning. Policy buyers who use nicotine in any form are categorised under the definition of a tobacco user. This includes cigarette, bidi, cigar smokers, and users of snuff and spit/chewing tobacco etc. Insurance companies often enquire about all forms of tobacco habits including smoking.

Most insurance companies also enquire about the frequency of this habit as it indicates the risk the habit poses to your health. If you are smoking at least four times a week for the last six months, you can be treated as an active smoker.

Health implications of smoking

The primary reason for this enquiry is the health hazards associated with smoking and the use of other forms of tobacco. Apart from cancer, which is prominently displayed in all tobacco packaging, various other health issues can be caused by smoking. Respiratory illnesses, heart ailments, hypertension, and stroke are some common health issues related to smoking habits. Lung and oral cancers are most common among smokers and tobacco users.

How does smoking affect health insurance premiums?

Due to increased medical risks, the mediclaim policy premium is generally higher for smokers compared to non-smokers. Because of these risks, a smoker is likely to raise a health insurance claim, or develop a disease, sooner. Insurers address this risk by raising the premium amount. The premium may further increase if the smoker also has underlying health conditions that are attributable to smoking habits.

What if I don't disclose it?

Since smoking habit increases the health insurance premium, one may be tempted to not disclose it while filling up a mediclaim policy form. However, it is not at all advisable to do so.

Hiding important information like a smoking habit can be treated as insurance fraud by the insurance company. If the person undergoes medical treatment for an ailment caused by tobacco use, the claim for the same could get rejected if the insurance company was not informed about their smoking habits. Even casual and occasional smokers should mention the same along with frequency, to be truly compliant. After all, a health insurance policy is a legally binding document.

So, it is better to disclose the habit and pay the higher premium, instead of paying a lower premium only to see the claim getting rejected later.


Interested policy buyers must note that all health insurance policy premiums are not affected by smoking habits. There may be insurance policies that don't charge a higher premium for smokers unless the person has health complications. Therefore, comparing the quotes provided by various insurance companies is important to get the best and most affordable mediclaim policy. Apart from comparison, smokers can also try and quit the habit altogether. With a strong resolve or with the help of smoking cessation programmes you can kick the habit for good. While quitting this bad habit will protect your health, a health insurance policy will further cover your medical needs.