Skip to content

Life insurance and your health

Does your health and lifestyle affect life insurance?

Donna McConnell
Reviewed by  Donna McConnell
5 min read
Updated: 25 Jan 2024

Looking after your health can cut the cost of life insurance. Read on to find out more about how your lifestyle choices affect life insurance premiums

Life insurance serves as a crucial safety net, designed to protect our loved ones from financial hardship when we pass away. The cost of this insurance varies significantly depending on a range of factors, including your age, occupation, whether you smoke or are overweight. .

So while you can’t change your age, you could cut the cost of life insurance by making lifestyle choices such as giving up smoking (you must be smoke free for at least 12 months for an insurer to class you as a non-smoker).

Read our guide for more useful tips on how you can potentially lower your life insurance premiums.

Age and Occupation: The Unchangeable Factors

It's no surprise that age plays a significant role in determining life insurance premiums.

As we age, our risk of developing health issues increases, and so does the likelihood of the insurance company needing to pay out. Consequently, premiums rise as we get older.

Similarly, your occupation can impact your life insurance costs. If you work in a high-risk job - say, as a firefighter, construction worker, or deep-sea diver - you pose a greater risk to the insurer. This increased risk is reflected in higher insurance premiums

woman with laptop showing MoneySuperMarket on her lap

How can I cut the cost of life insurance?

While you can't change your age or occupation overnight, there are aspects of your life you can control to reduce the cost of your life insurance. For instance, if you smoke or are overweight, your premiums are likely to be higher. Both smoking and obesity increase the risk of various health conditions, which in turn raises the likelihood of the insurer needing to pay out. It's important to note that to be classified as a non-smoker by an insurer, you must be smoke-free for at least 12 months. The positive impact of adopting healthier habits such as quitting smoking can significantly reduce your life insurance costs.

The lifestyle factors life insurance providers consider when calculating your premiums include:

  • Occupation: High-risk jobs can increase premiums.

  • Hobbies: Risky hobbies such as skydiving or motor racing can also push up the cost. Honesty is crucial when applying for life insurance, as failure to disclose such information can result in reduced payouts or policy invalidation.

  • Postcode: Living in a high-risk area, perhaps due to crime or environmental hazards, can increase premiums.

  • Smoking: Both smoking cigarettes and vaping can increase life insurance costs. Giving up smoking completely for at least 12 months can result in specific cost reduction.

  • Drinking: Regular, excessive drinking can lead to health issues, which may increase premiums.

  • Driving: Having penalty points on your licence, or being convicted of a driving offence, can increase life insurance costs

Will my life insurance be affected if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

If you have a pre-existing medical condition it may affect the cost of your life insurance. This is because certain health conditions increase the risk of premature death, making you a higher risk for the insurance provider. It's crucial to inform your insurers about any pre-existing conditions, as failure to do so can invalidate your policy.

The Role of Critical Illness Cover

Critical illness cover is separate from life insurance, and it can be taken out on its own or alongside a life insurance policy. It offers a pay-out when the policy-holder is diagnosed with a serious illness – for example, late-stage cancer.

How can I cut the cost of life insurance?

Making lifestyle changes that protect your health can reduce the cost of life insurance. Giving up smoking completely for at least 12 months, for example, can cut the cost of a typical policy by £3.78 a month1.

Adopting healthier habits may also mean you have a bigger choice of policies because more insurers are willing to offer you cover.

Don’t be tempted to lie about your hobbies and habits to find cheap life insurance, though, as this can invalidate your policy. If, for example, you fail to tell an insurer you smoke, dying of an illness that ‘could’ be related to smoking can result in your policy paying out a lower amount – or nothing at all. That’s why it’s vital to be completely honest with your life insurance provider, including about any relevant lifestyle changes during the term of your policy.

1Based on £100,000 worth of level term cover for a 30 year-old non-smoker with no pre-existing medical conditions over a 20 year period (December 2023)

Can I take out life and health insurance?

Yes you can, because life insurance and health insurance are two different things. Life insurance pays out a lump sum to your loved ones should you pass away, while health insurance gives you access to private healthcare if you need it. It’s generally taken out as a standalone product.

Do I need both health insurance and life insurance?

Health insurance (whether critical illness cover or private medical insurance) and life insurance protect you in different ways. If you want the peace of mind of knowing your loved ones will be able to manage financially if you pass away, life insurance is the best option. If you want access to private medical care should you fall ill or be in an accident, private medical insurance is the cover you need. And if you want the security of knowing your household bills and medical treatment will be covered if you develop a life-threatening condition, critical illness cover offers the protection required.

Whether or not you need all three types of cover will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Whether you have dependents

  • Whether you have a mortgage

  • Whether your employer provides private medical insurance

Compare life insurance

Comparing life insurance quotes with MoneySuperMarket is a quick and easy way to find cover. Just tell us a bit about yourself, your lifestyle, and the cover you need, and we’ll search the market for deals that will suit you.

You’ll be able to compare quotes by the overall cost of your policy and the cover you’ll get – and once you’ve found the one you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.

As with all types of insurance, keep in mind the cheapest option won’t always be the best – you should try to get all the cover you need in place for the best price available to avoid being over- or under-insured.

Looking for great deals on life insurance?
Get a brand new quote now