Life insurance for smokers

Smokers and vapers often face higher premiums for the same level of cover as non-smokers. Find out more about why, and what happens if you quit.

Updated 19 May 2020  | 2 min read

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Key points

  • It's likely that life insurance will be more expensive for smokers and vapers, but shopping around can help you find a cheaper deal
  • Kicking the habit for good will bring down your premium and improve your health prospects
  • To be classed as a non-smoker, you must stop smoking completely for at least 12 months

When’s the best time to get life insurance as a smoker?

Sooner rather than later. The younger you are when you take out a life insurance policy, the lower the premiums.

But if you're trying to quit smoking, wait until you've been nicotine free for 12 months before telling your provider. It could mean a lower premium.

Smokers may wish to consider getting a life insurance policy with critical illness cover for added financial security.

Do I qualify as a smoker?

Insurers don’t tend to distinguish between casual and heavy smokers. The question: 'have you used any nicotine products in the last 12 months?' determines whether you’re classed as a 'smoker’ or not.

Insurers may check your medical history, so be honest. There's always a risk that if you become critically ill with a disease such as cancer, smoking will be flagged to your insurer.

Smoking and associated diseases

The list of diseases associated with smoking is long. As well as lung cancer, mouth, throat, stomach, bladder and bowel cancers are all linked with smoking. Smokers are also more susceptible to heart attacks, strokes, emphysema and pneumonia.

As long as you’ve been honest with your insurers about smoking, they’ll pay out for a smoking-related illness or death.

What happens if I lie about smoking?

Lying to an insurer about smoking is a bad idea. If you do, two things could happen:

  • Your policy may not pay out, particularly if you die from a smoking-related illness
  • An insurer may look at the policy cost of a smoker vs a non-smoker and pro rata that amount against your payout. For example, if your premiums would have been 30% higher as a smoker, an insurer may only pay 70% of your claim.

If I quit will my premiums go down?

You may qualify for lower life insurance premiums if you quit smoking. But you’ll need to be clear of any nicotine products for at least 12 months to benefit.

If you've been nicotine-free for 12 months, contact your current life insurance provider and see whether they’ll consider lowering your premiums.

You can get help to quit with your local stop smoking service.

Insurers may look at your medical history and ask for a doctor’s report, chest x-ray, or urine/saliva test to confirm you're nicotine free. Your age and value of your policy will also be taken into account.

What kind of life insurance should I get?

If you’re a smoker, it might be worth considering having critical illness cover, as well as life insurance. This gives you the added protection of a lump sum payout following the diagnosis of a serious illness, such as cancer, a stroke or a heart attack.

There are two main types of life insurance; decreasing term life insurance policy will pay out a lower amount over time, while level term life insurance pays out the same amount no matter when you die during the cover period. The type of policy you’ll need depends on your circumstances.

Compare life insurance to find a policy that works for you.