Canadian Insurance and electronic cigarette benefits

We have concern and confusion in Canada where Canadian insurance companies seem to be rejecting the benefits of electronic cigarettes and designating them the same risk as tobacco cigarettes. Despite the fact that there is evidence that at worst electronic cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, it is unlikely that you will see any reduction in your life insurance premiums even if you switch from tobacco cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.

It is difficult to fully understand why Canadian insurance companies, and presumably other insurance companies around the world, are in effect ignoring any benefits of electronic cigarettes over their tobacco cigarette counterparts. Is it simply a case of maintaining market income, are there really concerns within the insurance industry or is this a direct result of a regulatory void left by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?

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Reasons for ignoring the benefits of electronic cigarettes

A spokesperson for Desjardins Financial Security Life Insurance, a well-known Canadian insurance company, has been quoted in a Canadian insurance industry publication. The spokesperson commented upon a number of different factors which included: –

  • A high risk of returning to tobacco cigarettes
  • A danger of returning to tobacco cigarettes because electronic cigarettes replicate smoking
  • Concerns about nicotine refills

In simple terms this particular Canadian insurance company seems to believe that by using electronic cigarettes there is a greater risk of going back to tobacco cigarettes, despite the fact that there is evidence to the contrary. There also seems to be concern that electronic cigarettes which replicate tobacco cigarettes could also place the user at a higher risk of returning to tobacco products and, despite the fact that refill contents are labelled clearly, there seems to be some concern about the nicotine content in electronic cigarettes.

As a consequence of these general concerns, and the fact that the regulatory issue has yet to be resolved, you could argue that this has played into the hands of the insurance sector. To put it simply, electronic cigarette users will play the same premium as their tobacco cigarette counterparts until there is unequivocal evidence regarding the above issues.

Are the Canadian insurance companies being fair?

The simple fact is that Canadian insurance companies, and no doubt many other insurance companies around the world, are simply protecting their market and protecting their income. Despite the fact that there is evidence to at worst weaken their arguments for maintaining high premiums, along the lines of those afforded to tobacco smokers, there is still little in the way of official data from the Canadian authorities. Until this void is filled it seems that the perceived health benefits of switching from tobacco cigarettes to electronic cigarettes will not be reflected in life insurance premiums.

This news comes at a time when the Canadian government is about to carry out a detailed review of the electronic cigarette industry which many believe will be a precursor to further regulation and potential taxes. While the Canadian authorities have so far refuted these allegations it does prompt the question, why are they taking such an interest in the electronic cigarette industry and what is the actual purpose of the forthcoming review?

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Conclusion

There is most certainly a very grey area with regards to commercial acceptance of electronic cigarettes in areas such as life insurance. Despite the fact there is growing evidence that electronic cigarettes are proving extremely helpful for those looking to reduce their tobacco cigarette intake, many insurance companies seem to be taking the political line that they can be a doorway to tobacco cigarettes.

If political bodies around the world had the intention of causing mayhem and confusion with regards to electronic cigarettes then to some extent they have been successful. Even though there is very strong evidence on the ground that electronic cigarettes could be the best ever opportunity to reduce tobacco cigarette use, for some reason the authorities and corporations are not toeing this particular line. It does make you wonder what kind of evidence the authorities and the life insurance companies in particular would require before they cut the industry a little slack?

Mark Benson

Bio

Mark Benson is a contributing author for Spinfuel eMagazine. His continuing columns will bring a level headed approach to the dynamics involved in realizing a positive future for the e-cigarette industry. For more information on electronic cigarettes and the various products available please visit the OKCigs website