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- It's likely that life insurance will be more expensive for smokers and vapers, but shopping around can help you find a cheaper deal
- To bring down your life insurance premium and improve your future health prospects, find support and kick the habit for good
- You must stop smoking completely for at least 12 months for an insurer to give you a life policy suitable for a non-smoker
Smoking has rightly taken a real kicking over the past few years, and it turns out it can have an impact on more than just your wellbeing.
According to the Office for National Statistics, around 7.6 million people in the UK still smoked in 2016.
If you’re looking for life insurance, you’ll be paying significantly more than your non-smoking brethren if you’re partial to a puff, or are a vaping maestro.
But, a hiked premium, because you smoke, doesn't mean a greater payout if you fall ill or die - you'll usually recieve the same level of pay out as a non-smoker.
And if smoking makes you seriously ill and you need to claim on your life insurance, you usually won't get an additional payout in the event of your death.
Are you a smoker?
As far as life insurance companies go, if you’ve smoked or used any nicotine or tobacco products in the last 12 months, you, in the eyes of an insurer, are a smoker.
From the occasional drunken ciggie on a night out to a celebratory cigar after the birth of your first grandchild, e-cigarettes to nicotine patches, insurers see you as a higher risk and up go those premiums.
There’s plenty of debate about the differences between smoking and vaping, including in the insurance industry.
A 2015 report from Public Health England found that vaping may be 95% safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, but don’t expect your insurer to take that info into consideration when calculating your life insurance premium quite yet.†
If you manage to kick the habit and stay clean for more than 12 months, tell your insurer - they'll re-evaluate your costs and you may save some dosh.
When’s the best time to get life insurance as a smoker?
There’s an argument to say the sooner rather than later as statistics show there’s more chance of you getting ill or dying prematurely than a non-smoker.
It’s worth investing in a life insurance policy which includes critical illness cover, so you can look after your family financially should you pass away, and avoid financial stress if you get ill and have to give up your job.
The younger you are when you take out a policy, the less you’ll pay for it.
In general, younger people don’t have as many medical problems as older people, and so insurers are less likely to have to pay out for a claim.
I used to smoke. Will it affect my life insurance now?
It depends how long ago you gave up.
You may have ditched the fags in favour of an e-cigarette thinking it to be a healthier option, or popped on a patch to reduce your cravings, but your insurance company won’t class you as a non-smoker until you’re nicotine free for at least 12 months.
For some companies however, it’s as long as five years, so check the small print on the policy before classifying yourself as an ex-smoker.
The cost of your policy should go down once you’re a non-smoker, but it’s not guaranteed.
For example, if you’ve smoked for 40 years and knock it on the head, insurers take the view that the damage has already been done, and there’s a higher chance they’ll be paying out on your policy.
Smoking leaves a long legacy health-wise. Even if you gave up 20 years ago there’s still a chance you could end up with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or another condition related to your old habit.
As long as you’ve been upfront with your insurance company when answering questions on the application form, and disclosed you’ve previously smoked, they’ll still pay out for a claim even if your illness or death is related to smoking.
When should I tell my insurer I’ve given up?
There’s no hard and fast rule on this, but once you’ve hit that 12-month milestone, give them a call and update them. They should then review your policy and how much it costs, although they’re not under any obligation to automatically drop the price.
Don’t tell porkies about not smoking just to keep costs down. An insurer can look at your medical history and see anything that identifies you as a smoker. If they sniff a whiff of cigarette smoke, they could up your premiums or refuse to pay out on a claim.
Want to give up now?
There’s loads of help around these days to help you quite the fags and live a healthier lifestyle. Check out these websites for your support options:
Get yourself covered
If you want to get yourself a life insurance policy, we can help you to compare what’s on offer with a quick and easy search of life insurance policies.
If you're a smoker, comparing what policies are available to you will help you find the mot suitable cover for your situation.
It's a good place to start if you've made peace with the fact that premiums may be higher than you'd like.