Life Insurance For Smokers

Smoking is bad for your wealth as well as your health. In addition to coughing up £7 or more for a pack of 20, smokers pay up to twice as much for life insurance compared to non-smokers.

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It’s not hard to see why. By smoking you’re putting yourself in a higher risk category for an early death or a serious illness. Medical research shows that smoking is responsible for all sorts of serious illnesses. Around 85% of deaths from lung cancer in the UK are as a result of smoking, according to Cancer Research UK, and as many as one in four of other fatal forms of cancer are caused by smoking.
There are other types of serious medical conditions which are aggravated by smoking, such as emphysema and heart disease.
It’s not just life insurance that’s more expensive. Other forms of protection insurance, such as critical illness, are more expensive for smokers. The good news is that if you give up smoking and stay clear or tobacco products for 12 months, you should be able to slash the cost of buying life and protection insurance policies.

Basic life cover

Simple term insurance to cover your life for a set number of years is relatively cheap – premiums can be as little as £5-£10 a month for a non-smoker under 40 over a term of, say, 20 years. This basic type of insurance provides you with a lump sum should you die within the length of your policy. You decide how much cover you need and for how long.

A smoker would pay up to £20 or even more for the same policy, so you can see it is good for your pocket in more ways than one if you quit smoking.

How does the insurer know that I smoke?

You’ll be asked a question about smoking when you apply for life or protection insurance. It’s important always to be completely honest when completing an insurance proposal. The moment you make a claim, they insurer will investigate and if you’re found out (through medical evidence, for example), your claim will be rejected. You’ll simply have wasted your premiums as you (or the beneficiaries of your policy) will receive nothing.

The insurance company may check with your doctor to find out if you were a smoker, or they could run a urine test for nicotine. There have even been cases of people’s claims being rejected because there were recent pictures of them on social media sites, such as Facebook, with a cigarette in their hand.

Don’t make the mistake of saying you’re a non-smoker when you’re still an occasional, social smoker. Insurers don’t distinguish between someone on 40-a-day and someone who only smokes on high days and holidays.

Even nicotine replacement products like patches, gum and inhalers count.  You’ll still be classed as a smoker if you’re using these instead of cigarettes. You have to have given up smoking and all nicotine replacement products for 12 consecutive months to be able to call yourself a non-smoker for insurance purposes.

It’s not quite as clear cut for someone who has a celebratory cigar very occasionally. Some insurers will overlook this if you tell them truthfully how often you have a cigar, but others won’t, so it’s best to shop around to find out which companies are the most lenient in this regard.

How much could I save by quitting smoking?

Research by shows that a 30-year-old with a £100,000 life insurance policy would save nearly £1,300 over a term of 25 years by kicking the habit.

If you also include critical illness, which pays a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with one of a number of life-threatening diseases, you could save nearly £4,000 over 25 years, according to our findings.

And that’s on top of the saving you’ll make by not buying cigarettes!

When should I change my life insurance?

It’s always a good idea to review your life cover when your circumstances change.

As we’ve already said, your insurer may well cut your premiums once you have been smoke-free for 12 months. But your age will be taken into account when reviewing the premiums, so if you are significantly older than when you first took out the policy, they may not come down by a huge amount.

Smoker or not, it’s a good idea to review your life insurance occasionally, particularly when major events occur, such as getting married, buying a house or increasing your mortgage, or having children.

Whenever you buy life insurance, it’s worth shopping round. Our comparison service allows you to get quotes from a number of firms within a few minutes. And if you need any guidance, you can give us a call and we’ll do our best to resolve any queries you might have.