While smoking has declined in popularity over the years, the latest official figures show that millions of Brits still light up every day.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that in the UK, in 2021, 13.3% of people aged 18 years and over smoked cigarettes, equivalent to more than 6.5 million people.
The health effects of smoking are well-documented. Charity ASH reports that smoking is the main cause of preventable illness and premature death in England, accounting for approximately 74,600 deaths a year.
Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and can cause lung cancer, respiratory disease and heart disease as well as mouth, throat, bladder, kidney, stomach, liver, and cervical cancer.
If you smoke – or you use other nicotine products as you’ll read below – you might wonder: can I get life insurance as a smoker?
Read on for answers to eight questions you’re likely to have if you smoke and you want to take out life cover to protect your loved ones.
Can I get life insurance if I am a smoker?
Yes. While an insurer will ask if you are a smoker on your life insurance application, the fact you smoke doesn’t affect your eligibility for insurance.
Many smokers have successfully taken out the protection they need, with a range of leading insurers.
While it is possible to take out life insurance, the fact that you smoke will affect the cost of your insurance. Simply put, if you are a smoker, insurance is likely to cost you more than if you were a non-smoker.
Does it matter how much I smoke?
No. Whether you smoke occasionally with friends, or you have a 20-a-day habit, an insurer will treat you as a “smoker” when it comes to underwriting your life insurance application.
A “smoker” is normally defined as someone who has used nicotine products – not just tobacco such as cigarettes, cigars or a pipe – in the last 12 months.
Will my life insurance be more expensive if I am a smoker?
Yes, your life insurance will likely cost you more if you smoke.
The reason for this is all based on risk. As a smoker, you’re more likely to suffer with ill health at any early age. And, in simple terms, you’re statistically more likely to die within the term of your life insurance policy than a non-smoker.
So, an insurer will charge you more to represent the additional risk that they will have to pay out.
Aviva say that a 35-year-old non-smoker, who wants £150,000 of mortgage protection or decreasing life cover to last for 25 years, would pay:
•£8.61 a month as a non-smoker
•£14.24 a month as a smoker.
If you want to find out how much life insurance will cost you, get a life insurance quote from our website in just a few minutes. You can compare the smoker rates/premiums for insurance from dozens of leading insurers.
Is vaping treated the same as smoking for life insurance?
According to government data, 29% of smokers believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking.
As far as an insurer is concerned, vaping is treated the same as smoking – ultimately because you are still using a nicotine product. As an insurer looks at vaping in the same way as other forms of smoking, it will influence your monthly premiums in exactly the same way.
Legal & General say “until there is more evidence about the health implications of using e-cigarettes, vaping will be judged by insurers in much the same ways as life insurance for smokers.”
It’s worth noting that you will likely be classed as a smoker if you use:
- Cigarettes or cigars
- A pipe
- A vape
- Nicotine replacements such as patches, lozenges, or gum.
So, if you puff on peach scented e-liquid or chew a piece of nicotine gum, you’ll likely be considered a smoker and it will affect the cost of your life insurance.
Can I get away with not telling the insurer that I smoke?
No. While you may be tempted to tick “non-smoker” on your application – particularly if you only have the odd cigarette – an insurer may ask for medical information when you apply. Your records could therefore show that you are a smoker.
Additionally, not disclosing that you smoke could have a serious impact if you die and a claim is made on your policy.
If an insurer determines that you did smoke when you took out your policy, and you had claimed you did not, they will likely refuse to pay a claim. “Non-disclosure” (or incorrect disclosure) is one of the main reasons why an insurer would refuse to pay a claim.
This could leave your loved ones in financial trouble if they do not receive the payout they expected.
What if I stop smoking after I take out my life insurance?
According to the NHS, a smoker's excess risk of a heart attack reduces by half after only 12 months of being nicotine-free.
If you quit smoking, many insurers will let you renegotiate your premium after you have been smoke-free for a certain period. With many insurers this is 12 months, but with others it could be up to five years.
Your insurer may then reduce the premium as you’re now a non-smoker. Or, you may be able to shop around for new life insurance on non-smoker rates.
If you’re thinking of replacing your cover to take advantage of lower rates, it is normally a good idea to wait until your new cover starts before cancelling existing policies.
Will my premiums go up if I start smoking after my cover has started?
No. Your life insurance is underwritten at the point of application, and your premiums based on the risk at the time you took out the cover.
If you start to smoke later on, you decide to engage in high-risk sports, or you take up a new career as a stuntman, your life insurance premiums will not change.
How do I stop smoking?
The NHS say that “stopping smoking is one of the best things you will ever do for your health”.
There are many ways to quit smoking, from using nicotine replacements to local “stop smoking” services.
The best place to start is the NHS website which has loads of useful tips for kicking the habit.
Compare the prices and arrange your smoker life insurance
As life insurance experts, we specialise in helping smokers and non-smokers alike to obtain the cover they need to protect their loved ones.
So, if you want the peace of mind that your family will receive financial support if the worst happens, we can help.
When you get a life insurance quote, we’ll search the rates available from dozens of the UK’s leading insurers to make sure you get the most competitive rates – even as a smoker.
And, if you stopped smoking more than a year ago, we can help you to find the cover you need on non-smoker rates.
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