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Aviva toughens ex-smoker criteria for life cover but fails to tell advisers

Aviva has failed to notify advisers it has amended the terms on its simplified life cover plans so customers need to have quit smoking for longer to gain access to cheaper non-smoker rates.

Previously, the insurer’s non-smoker definition stated customers would no longer be rated, that is, pay a more expensive premium, where they have not used nicotine for 12 months or more.

It has now altered its non-smoker definition so that customers who quit smoking up to five years ago may still be rated when given a life cover quote.

A sliding-scale rating now applies for customers who have quit using nicotine products between 12 months and five years ago. Ratings will apply to customers obtaining “quick quotes” on online portals and those being underwritten.

The changes only apply to Aviva’s simplified life proposition, which provides a quicker application process.

Aviva chief underwriter Robert Morrison says: “It takes a period of years before mortality normalises to the same as that of someone who has never smoked. We have refined our pricing to take that into account.”

On the question of why advisers were not told about the change, Morrison says: “To be honest, we change underwriting strategy all the time so we do not make public announcements whenever new medical data changes criteria.” 

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says: “This is a brave move and clearly it will cost Aviva business. 

“It would have been good for brokers to receive some notification of this. An application form I printed last week gave no indication of this change.”

LV= also applies a rating for customers who have not smoked for up to five years but only for quick quotes online. 

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