Smoking takes a heavy toll on your health. The NHS calculates that about 100,000 people die in the UK each year from smoking-related illnesses.
Smoking causes disease
We all know that smoking can lead to lung cancer, but it can also increase the risk of developing a range of other cancers including stomach, mouth and liver cancer. Then there’s the effect on your lungs. Smoking often leads to chronic conditions such as bronchitis and emphysema.
It also damages your heart, which is why smokers are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke.
Double the premiums
If that were not bad enough, smoking also takes a toll on your pocket. Cigarettes are expensive, but that’s not all. Smokers also pay more for life insurance, with premiums often double the rate for non-smokers.
It’s all down to statistics. The figures clearly show that smokers are more likely to claim on their life insurance or critical illness policy because they are more at risk of death or disease.
You can often cut the cost of insurance by quitting smoking
You have to disclose your smoking habit when you apply for insurance. The insurer usually asks a number of questions about smoking, such as whether you have smoked in the previous 12 months and how often.
You should answer honestly and bear in mind that insurers do not generally make any distinction between cigarettes, cigars, pipes or nicotine replacement products such as patches. E-cigarettes are also categorised as cigarettes because they contain nicotine and the long-term health benefits have not yet been independently established.
You might think you qualify as a non-smoker because you indulge in the habit infrequently. But insurers don’t usually distinguish between occasional and heavy smokers. If you smoke only at weekends or even if you enjoy a cigar on high days and holidays, you will typically pay more for life cover.
Some companies are, however, beginning to react to consumer demand over occasional smoking, so it’s worth shopping around to find an insurer who is more lenient if you rarely smoke.
Insurers often assume that your application is honest, but they can ask for a urine or saliva test to prove whether or not you smoke. They might even contact your GP for information on your medical history.
The insurer will also investigate if you make a claim on the policy. For instance, the coroner’s report might attribute death to a smoking-related illness. If you have concealed your habit from the insurer, the policy is then unlikely to pay out.
You can often cut the cost of insurance by quitting smoking. But you will have to banish all nicotine products and replacements from your life for at least 12 months to qualify for lower premiums. Again, the insurance company can conduct spot checks, so don’t attempt to hide the truth.
Tell your insurer
If you manage to kick the habit, you should always tell your insurer. It might also be a good idea to compare premiums and see if you can get a better deal with a different firm. You should also update your insurer and review your life cover when your circumstances change, perhaps when you start a family or move house and take on a bigger mortgage.
It’s easy to compare the cost of life insurance using MoneySuperMarket’s online service. We carry the details of all the major life insurers so you can find a policy that’s right for you and your family.