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Life insurance for smokers

How much does smoking affect the cost of life insurance?

published: 09 June 2020
Read time: 5 minutes

Being a smoker can increase your life insurance premiums by more than half

There’s no getting around it: if you smoke your life insurance costs are going to be higher, as a result of the many health risks associated with smoking.

Smoking is the root cause of many serious and fatal medical conditions, including several cancers, heart disease, angina, emphysema and bronchitis. In short, smokers die younger and are more likely to make more expensive claims on their life insurance, so insurers charge them more to reflect the greater risk.

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 gap is significant for a mortgage life insurance policy. Given that almost every lender will ask you to take out a life insurance policy with your mortgage, the costs of smoking quickly mount up.

The exact cost of every life insurance policy is based on the personal circumstances of the person taking it out, accounting for things like medical history and occupation, so your own quote may be very different to the average.

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Do I need to tell an insurer that I smoke?

When you take out a life insurance policy, your insurer will ask you a series of questions regarding your health, some of which will involve smoking. You’ll be asked whether you have smoked in the previous 12 months, and perhaps how often. Sometimes they will ask if you have smoked in the past, and for how long.

It’s vital to answer these questions honestly and to admit if you are a smoker – even if you only smoke occasionally or socially.

If you ever have to a make an insurance claim regarding a health condition, the insurance company will investigate – and they almost certainly won’t pay out if your health report shows you lied when you took the policy out. This goes for smoking and for any other medical condition you fail to declare when you apply.

Remember that insurers do not generally make any distinction between the following tobacco products:

  • Cigarettes

  • Cigars

  • Pipes

  • Nicotine replacement products such as patches

  • E-cigarettes and vapes

E-cigarettes and vapes in particular are still categorised as smoking products by insurers because they contain nicotine, and because the long-term health effects haven’t yet been established. So even though they’re billed as being healthier, you shouldn’t expect to get cheaper premiums if you vape.

The best life insurance for smokers

Honesty is the best policy when trying to get the best life insurance for smokers. Insurers will assume that your application is truthful, but if they later suspect anything is amiss, they could ask for a urine or saliva test to find out whether or not you are a smoker. They might even contact your GP for information on your medical history, which will reveal whether you have smoked in your lifetime.

The insurer may also investigate when you make a claim on the policy. For instance, the coroner’s report might attribute your death to a smoking-related illness. If you have concealed your habit from your insurer, the policy won’t pay out.

Do occasional smokers have to inform insurers?

You still count as a smoker for life insurance purposes, even if you only smoke occasionally. Insurers have historically not usually distinguished between occasional, social and heavy smokers. You could have smoked one cigarette on a night out or be a pack-a-day smoker and it wouldn’t make a difference to your premiums.

That said, some companies are coming round to the fact that some people only smoke socially, and are beginning to react to this consumer-led demand, so it’s definitely worth shopping around to seek an insurer who may be more lenient if you rarely smoke.

Does quitting smoking make life insurance cheaper?

You can cut the cost of your insurance premiums by quitting smoking, but you will have to banish all nicotine products and replacements from your life for at least 12 months to qualify – and you may be asked to prove that you’ve kicked the habit for good.

The good news is that if you are nicotine-free for more than 12 months and ask your life insurance provider to update your policy, you may well get a reduced rate on your premium. And if not, well, you’ll still be healthier.

Obviously, this is easier said than done, but there is plenty of support out there for smokers who want to kick the habit. The NHS provides support if you need help quitting smoking, and you can discuss with your local GP.

Compare cheap life insurance for smokers

The best way to find the cheapest life insurance for smokers is to compare quotes from a range of insurers with MoneySuperMarket – but don’t buy on price alone, make sure you factor in other things such as their customer reviews. You can also choose whether to add critical illness cover to your policy, in order to see how much this affects the cost of your premium.

But the most important thing to remember is to be honest and declare if you smoke to avoid invalidating your policy.

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