Ditch the fags, save on life cover

Tuesday July 1 marks the seventh anniversary of the introduction of a smoking ban in enclosed work places in England in 2007. Bans had already been imposed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Some objected on the grounds of civil liberties. Some said the move would devastate the licensed trade, as pubs, clubs and restaurants count as workplaces. Some said it simply wouldn’t work because it would be too hard to enforce.

But here we are in 2014, and most of us would be shocked and even horrified if we walked into a smoky boozer, replete with fag ash on the floor and a yellow ceiling. Can you imagine anyone smoking in a restaurant these days? A lot has changed in seven years.

New lease of life

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health.

According to the NHS, 100,000 people a year die in the UK due to smoking-related illness, either from smoking or because of the effects of breathing second-hand (second-lung?) smoke – the phenomenon the smoking ban was brought in to eliminate at work.

Life insurance companies have no doubts that smoking is a killer – that’s why they charge smokers half as much again for life cover.

For example, the premium for a 30-year old non-smoker buying £150,000 of life insurance for 25 years would be £7.28 a month with Beagle Street. But a smoker would pay £4.00 a month more. That’s £1,200 over the term of the policy.

If the same person added critical illness cover – meaning they’d receive a pay-out following the diagnosis of one of a list of critical illnesses – they’d pay £30.14 as a non-smoker and £45.44 as a smoker (with Legal & General).

That’s £15.30 a month extra, or a whopping £4,590 extra in total. Throw in the cost of cigarettes at around £7.50 (for a non-premium brand) and the financial benefits of kicking the weed are compelling on their own.

Emma Walker, MoneySuperMarket’s head of protection, said: "The cost smoking adds to the price of a premium for life insurance or critical illness cover is considerable and should be one reason for anyone to consider quitting.”

Non-smoker rates

If you’ve already got life insurance and you give up smoking, you should go back to your insurer and ask for non-smoker rates.

The fact you’re older than when you first took out the policy will mean you won’t see your premium fall as dramatically as if you’d first bought the policy as a non-smoker, but you’ll still save a (you know it’s coming…) packet.

To be classed as a non-smoker and qualify for life insurance premium savings, insurers insist smokers have packed up the habit for a full 12 months. This includes tobacco-replacement products they might be on, such as nicotine patches.

And you’ll probably still have to pay smoker’s rates if you switch to e-cigarettes.

It’s in the blood…

So how come you still pay more if you ditch tobacco? As Jennifer Aniston would say in a L’Oreal advert, here comes the science bit…

The logic of insurance companies is as follows: when the body absorbs nicotine it produces a substance called cotinine, and it is the presence of cotinine that is used by insurance companies (via medical exams) to determine whether someone is a smoker or not (it is present in blood, urine, hair and saliva).

Someone using a nicotine inhaler or smoking an e-cigarette will therefore test positive for cotinine in the same way as a smoker.

And if nicotine replacement users were offered reduced premiums (in the same way as non-smokers), then a tobacco smoker might claim just to be a nicotine patch user, not a tobacco user. So insurers refuse to offer lower premiums to anyone testing positive for cotinine.

Shop around

Whether you are a smoker or a non-smoker, if you have dependents it’s essential to have life insurance. It clearly makes sense to get the best possible deal on the premiums you pay, and you can does this by shopping around on the MoneySuperMarket life insurance channel.

30-year-old, £150,000 over 25 years for single life cover:

 Provider  Monthly premium smoker  Total premium over 25 years  Monthly premium non-smoker  Total premium over 25 years  Savings per month by not smoking  Savings for term by not smoking
 Beagle Street  £11.28  £3,384  £7.28  £2,184  £4.00  £1,200
 LV=  £12.01  £3,603  £7.52  £2,256  £4.49  £1,347
 Legal & General  £12.23  £3,669  £7.36  £2,208  £4.87  £1,461
 Zurich  £13.10  £3,930  £8.19  £2,457  £4.91  £1,473
 ageas  £13.26  £3,978  £8.03  £2,409  £5.23  £1,569

30-year-old, £150,000 over 25 years for critical illness & life cover:

 Provider  Monthly premium smoker  Total premium over 25 years  Monthly premium non-smoker  Total premium over 25 years  Savings per month by not smoking  Savings for term by not smoking
 Legal & General  £45.44  £13,632  £30.14  £9,042  £15.30  £4,590
 Zurich  £49.33  £14,799  £31.68  £9,504  £17.65  £5,295
 AEGON  £53.04  £15,912  £35.46  £10,638  £17.58  £5,274
 Scottish Provident  £53.49  £16,047  £34.93  £10,479  £18.56  £5,568
 Bright Grey  £55.79  £16,737  £34.76  £10,428  £21.03  £6,309

Source: MoneySuperMarket

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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