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Life insurance for smokers

The high cost of smoking: How it affects your life insurance premiums

Rachel Ditchburn
Written by  Rachel Ditchburn
6 min read
Updated: 20 Feb 2024

Being a smoker can increase your life insurance premiums by more than half. Discover more about life insurance for smokers in this handy guide.

The High Cost of Lighting Up: How Smoking Burns a Hole in Life Insurance Premiums

For many, the decision to smoke is a personal one, often made without considering the long-term financial implications. However, smokers may find themselves facing an unexpected expense in the form of higher life insurance premiums. The reason for this is clear: smoking is a significant health risk, and life insurance companies take that risk seriously. But what exactly constitutes a smoker in the eyes of an insurer, and how does this habit impact the cost of your policy?

woman relaxing on a chair with her feet up

How does a life insurance company define smokers?

When it comes to life insurance, insurers have a broad definition of who is considered a smoker. If you've used any nicotine or tobacco products within the past year, including cigarettes, vapes, and even products that are nicotine-free, you'll be labelled as a smoker. This classification is crucial as it directly influences the premiums you'll be expected to pay.

Why does smoking affect life insurance?

The link between smoking and serious health issues is well-documented. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and various types of cancer. These health risks increase the likelihood of insurance claims, which in turn leads to higher premiums for smokers. Life insurance companies price their policies based on the level of risk they're taking on, and smoking is one of the top risk factors considered.

Do I need to tell an insurer that I smoke?

Honesty is the best policy, especially when it comes to life insurance. During the application process for life insurance, you'll be asked about your smoking habits. This includes questions about both past and current usage. It's imperative to answer these questions honestly. If you ever have to make an insurance claim regarding a health condition, the insurance company will investigate. They almost certainly won’t pay out if your health report shows you lied when you took the policy out, you also risk voiding your policy altogether. This goes for smoking and any other pre-existing medical condition you fail to declare when applying.

Furthermore, insurers do not typically distinguish between different types of tobacco or nicotine products. Whether you're a cigar aficionado or an e-cigarette user, you'll be considered a smoker in the eyes of the insurance company.

Does it matter how much you smoke?

You might wonder if being an occasional smoker as opposed to a pack-a-day smoker makes a difference in your life insurance premiums. Generally, the frequency of your smoking habit doesn't have a significant impact on the cost; insurers tend to charge similar rates for both occasional and heavy smokers. However, some insurers may offer more favourable rates for those who smoke less frequently, so it's worth shopping around and comparing policies.

How much more do smokers pay for life insurance?

Smokers who take out a life insurance policy should expect to pay significantly more than those who don’t smoke. The cost is usually higher when it comes to mortgage life insurance policies. The exact cost of every life insurance policy is based on individual circumstances, including factors such as medical history and occupation. Therefore, your personal quote may differ from the average.

How can a life insurance company tell whether you smoke?

Life insurance companies have their ways of verifying your smoking status. Medical reports are often used in the event of a claim, and these will reveal any smoking habits. If there are discrepancies between what you reported when you took out the policy and your medical records, you could face denied claims and even policy cancellation.

The best life insurance for smokers

For smokers seeking life insurance, transparency is key. When applying, be upfront about your smoking status. Insurers have the means to conduct tests or check your medical history to confirm your disclosures. By being honest, you ensure that your policy remains valid and provides the protection you're paying for.

When is the best time to get life insurance for smokers?

If you're a smoker, the best time to get life insurance is as soon as possible, ideally when you're younger and premiums are lower. However, if you're planning to quit, know that being smoke-free for 12 months can lead to being classified as a non-smoker, which can significantly improve your rates.

Does quitting smoking make life insurance cheaper?

Yes, quitting smoking can lead to cheaper life insurance premiums. After 12 months without smoking, insurers may adjust your rates to reflect your new non-smoker status. Additionally, there is support available for those looking to quit, which can not only improve your health but also your wallet. Yes, quitting smoking and steering clear of nicotine for 12 months can lead to reduced insurance premiums. Insurers may adjust rates for those who can prove they've quit. While this is easier said than done, there is plenty of support out there for smokers who want to kick the habit. The NHS offers support, and you can discuss quitting with your GP. 

If I start smoking only after taking out life insurance, do I need to let my insurer know?

It's important to inform your insurer of any significant changes in your health or habits, including starting to smoke after you've taken out a life insurance policy. Such changes can affect the terms of your coverage and the premiums you pay.

Compare life insurance for smokers

For smokers, finding the right life insurance policy at a competitive rate is crucial. MoneySuperMarket offers a comparison tool that allows you to get life insurance quotes tailored for smokers. You can also add critical illness cover to see how it affects your premiums. Remember, honesty is paramount to ensure the validity of your policy.

Understanding the impact of smoking on life insurance can be a powerful motivator to quit. Armed with knowledge about how smoking affects life insurance, you can make informed decisions about your coverage and potentially save money in the long run. Whether you're a smoker or a former smoker, it's never too late to explore your options and secure the financial protection you and your loved ones deserve.

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