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Insurance survey shows decrease in “smokers” since start of lockdown

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A recent life insurance assessment has reported an 18% decrease in the number of customers who declared themselves as smokers since the start of the lockdown.

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A RECENT life insurance assessment has reported an 18% decrease in the number of customers who declared themselves as smokers since the start of the lockdown.

FNB Life said on Wednesday that as part of the standard underwriting process by insurers, potential customers were often asked a set of questions in consideration of their risk profile.

Chief Executive of FNB Life, Lee Bromfield explained that this insight was based on feedback from monitored underwriting questionnaires that were conducted with potential life insurance customers.

“These are customers who had declared their smoking status before, during and after lockdown. We process up to 40 000 underwriting questionnaires monthly spanning across various banking channels, income ranges and employment status,” Bromfield said.

“The trend we’ve seen over the lockdown is certainly in contrast to what we’ve observed over the years. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a 20 – 22% increase in the number of people who declared themselves as smokers, and we often see a dip only in January presumably due to people’s New Year’s resolutions. Despite the 18% drop over the course of lockdown, there was a slight increase in the number of customers who identify as smokers when the country moved to level 2 of the national lockdown,” Bromfield added.

From a life insurance point of view, insurers consider several factors in the underwriting process. As a result, it is important for consumers to always update their policies when there are material changes to their lifestyle including in cases where people quit smoking or undergo a medical procedure, to mention a few scenarios.

“While the impact of every lifestyle change does not guarantee a premium reduction or increase, it can help you to have a seamless claims process when you need to claim from your life insurance,” Bromfield added.

“It is important to stress that full disclosure is highly crucial when one takes up life insurance. Although it might still be early days to predict what the continued trend will look like going forward, customers also need to consider the improved health benefits that can lead to lowered medical costs and insurance premiums based on their risk profile. We encourage our customers to update their life insurance policies regularly,” concluded Bromfield.