Vegetarians and fish-eaters are being offered reduced-price life insurance through a scheme launched today by a not-for-profit insurance business.
Non-meat eaters will be offered a 6% discount on premiums available from Animal Friends Insurance (AFI), in a deal believed to be the first of its kind.
The firm said vegetarians should pay less for the cover, which pays out in the event of the policyholder's death, because they were less likely to suffer from a range of chronic illnesses, including some cancers.
AFI's managing director, Elaine Fairfax, said: "The risk of vegetarians suffering from some cancers is reduced by up to 40% and from heart disease by up to 30%, but despite this they have to pay the same life insurance premiums as meat eaters.
"We believe this is unfair and the life insurance industry needs to acknowledge the fact that being a vegetarian can have a very positive impact on life expectancy and reduce premiums accordingly."
The policy is underwritten by LV=, formerly Liverpool Victoria, and a full-price policy is also available to meat eaters.
As with standard life insurance policies, premiums are based on a range of factors including the applicant's age, weight and whether or not they smoke.
The 6% discount is currently being funded by AFI, which is paying it out of the fee it gets from LV=. However, Ms Fairfax said she hoped one day to offer a specialist policy with lower premiums.
By offering the deal, the company is hoping to sign up enough vegetarians to make it worth LV= underwriting a separate policy that takes their diet into account.
Savings to be made
According to Ms Fairfax, the discount means a 40-year-old non-smoker buying £300,000 worth of cover could save £393.60 over a 20-year period.
"When it comes to life insurance, we believe that insurers should start to look at meat eaters and non-meat eaters in a similar way to the way they look at smokers and non-smokers," said Ms Fairfax. "Hopefully others in the industry will follow our lead."
Kevin Carr, head of protection strategy at the broker Lifesearch, said he was unaware of any insurer that took a policyholder's diet into account.
He also questioned whether there was any proof that non-meat eaters lived longer, and how AFI would make sure that people who had declared themselves vegetarian did not tuck into the occasional bacon sandwich.
"When it comes to smoking there are GP records - if you do smoke it's likely that your GP would know. This isn't the case when it comes to eating meat," he said.
Net profits from AFI policies are given to animal charities worldwide.read full article