We all know that quitting smoking is beneficial in more ways than one, providing great benefits for your health and finances.
But a new life insurance company called Reviti claims to be taking this further by lowering premiums for smokers who switch to less harmful alternatives, or quit altogether.
But there’s a twist — the company is owned by Philip Morris, the tobacco giant behind Marlboro and Chesterfield cigarettes.
The company immediately came under fire from anti-tobacco campaigners, who called Revetti “crooked”, accusing Philip Morris of using it as a way to market its new “smoke-free” tobacco devices.
But regardless of the motives, is what the company offers actually beneficial? Can smokers benefit from the deal? take a look …
Philip Morris, the tobacco giant behind Marlboro, has launched a life insurance company
While Reviti life insurance is available to people who have never smoked, it is primarily designed with smokers, smokers, and ex-smokers in mind.
While those who have never smoked will get cheaper premiums, those who use e-cigarettes will also get a 2.5 percent discount.
However, if the policyholder switches to Philip Morris’ IQOS brand of electronic cigarettes for hot tobacco, they will receive a 25 percent discount.
Ex-smokers, who have successfully stopped using tobacco and nicotine for 12 months, will be offered the largest discount of up to 50 percent of the smoker’s premium.
Premiums start at £5 per month and coverage is covered by Scottish Friendly.
Why is the company so controversial?
Reviti immediately came under fire from anti-tobacco campaigners, who questioned Philip Morris’ motives in launching a life insurance company.
The biggest question mark hangs over the 25 percent incentive for switching to Philip Morris’ heated tobacco product, IQOS, compared to the 2.5 percent incentive offered to non-tobacco e-cigarette users.
Critics have accused Philip Morris of releasing the Reviti simply to promote its new product.
Public Health England believes that vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.
Deborah Arnott of the health charity Action on Smoking and Health said: ‘This is just a new marketing tactic by Philip Morris to promote IQOS, as they cannot advertise it directly in the UK due to a complete ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
“They are also using the link with life insurance to try to rebrand Philip Morris as socially responsible, while still promoting smoking in developing countries where the majority of smoking-related deaths now occur.”
When asked why users of Philip Morris IQOS devices get a 10x discount over e-cigarette users, a Reviti spokesperson said: ‘Our number one focus is encouraging smokers to make positive lifestyle changes. The 2.5 percent discount is available to new Reviti customers who already use e-cigarettes when they sign up, rather than those who switch over at a later time.
Those smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke, but switch to a scientifically backed smoke-free alternative, IQOS, and quit smoking cigarettes for three months will receive a discount from Reviti and save up to 25 percent on a smoker’s premium.
There is a lot of hard work going on in the background to extend our discounts to other products once scientific and other evidence has been evaluated.
We always recommend quitting tobacco and nicotine completely as the best option for any smoker. However, it made more sense to start with IQOS.
“We plan to expand our coverage to other smoke-free products in the future.”
How does it compare to other life insurance companies?
Putting its motivations to one side, does Reviti actually offer anything new or innovative?
The company claims that it will be able to offer coverage to the millions of smokers who were previously unable to obtain life insurance.
CEO Daniel Bender said: “The life insurance product we offer is a win-win for Reviti and our customers. They get competitive premiums and, with a little help from us, a better lifestyle.
“We get to help millions of people who never had access to life insurance before who will benefit from the positive lifestyle changes we help them make.”
Tom Bigree, CEO, Lifesearch
But while it is true that some life insurance companies do not offer coverage for smokers, that does not mean that they are not available.
Many of the largest life insurance companies have offered coverage to smokers for years, albeit at higher premiums than non-smokers.
With this in mind, it’s hard to see anything new or innovative in Reviti.
The provider says it plans to launch a range of insurance policies that incentivize better lifestyle choices, such as improving diet, reducing alcohol intake or getting fit — but these are not yet available.
However, Reviti clients can access the Reviti life app, which provides them with 120 activities and programs designed to support lifestyle changes.
The group says it expects to expand beyond just life insurance in the future and look into other areas such as protection against critical illness.
A spokesperson said: “We are also busy developing our approach to other key contributors to lifestyle that we believe improve your chance of a better life such as exercise, weight management and nutrition in this area.”
‘While it’s hard to look back and want to promote their vape business, there may be real marketing traction in the intent to encourage unhealthy people to become healthy,’ said Tom Bigree, CEO of Lifesearch consultancy.
I say attract marketing rather than real benefits to consumers because one is almost certain to get better life insurance rates elsewhere, and possibly more generous underwriting as well.
So, what’s really happening is that customers will effectively pay the tobacco giant for the Healthy Living app.
So by all means take a look, but you can shop too. Then find one of the excellent free fitness apps out there instead.
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