If you're a vegetarian in Australia, you might be paying less for life insurance than your carnivorous neighbors. According to Brian Jones of the Make A DifferenceInsurance agency in Melbourne and Sydney, people who choose to eat a healthy and ethical vegetarian diet deserve to pay approximately 20 percent less on premiums than carnivores.
Jones mused that vegetarians today pay more for life insurance than they should, that they are being forced to “subsidize . . . meat eaters” who drive insurance costs up with their bad cholesterol, cancer, and other meat-associated health problems.
A vegetarian himself, Jones decided to reward his non-meat eating customers by giving them lower insurance premiums. Which begs the question: Is Jones a smart businessman, or a not-so-smart idealist?
Vegetarians and vegans will probably think Jones is a smart businessman. After all, they're theoretically eating a healthier diet than those who frequent McDonald's, Burger King, and the butcher man's aisle of their local supermarket. The research is in: Eating a healthy, vegetable-rich diet with little or no animal-derived products often makes for a healthier, longer life span. Besides, who doesn't want to be rewarded for the healthy decisions they make?
Jones is likely to attract Australian vegetarians with his policy. Granted, vegetarianism in Australia is not a booming lifestyle at this time. According to Jones himself, only about two percent of Australians follow a legitimate vegetarian or vegan diet.
Carnivores and other doubters will probably think Jones is a not-so-smart idealist. After all, a person's eating style is not the sole determinant of their health or – more to the point – their insurance risk. A vegetarian could theoretically eat donuts for breakfast, French fries for lunch, and a big fat greasy grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. A carnivore could theoretically eat Cheerios for breakfast, tuna salad for lunch, and low-fat, grilled salmon for dinner. Who ate the healthier food, Mr. Jones? And who is paying less for life insurance again? In a scenario such as this, the vegetarian gets unfairly rewarded. Furthermore, Mr. Jones doesn't save any money, because the grease-and-cheese-obsessed vegetarian is just as likely to develop heart problems and cancer as anyone.
Jones' idea of rewarding vegetarians/vegans with lower insurance premiums is certainly not foolproof. He runs the risk of losing money on vegetarians and vegans who do not eat healthfully and losing carnivorous customers who don't appreciate his policy.
On the other hand, Jones is taking a bold risk with his business. He's going out on a limb for something he believes in, and for that he must be commended. Make a Difference Insurance is, after all, his business. If he wants to offer lower premiums to non-meat eaters, he certainly can. People who don't like it can go elsewhere.
What do you think? Is Jones a smart guy or an ignorant businessman? Is he making a difference?
Flickr image by sillygwailo.