The Truth About Life Insurance and Smoking

Truth about smoking and cost of life insurance

March 2, 2020

We all know that smoking is bad for our health, and if you have begun to look into buying a life insurance policy, you may have noticed that 'Are you a smoker?' is one of the key questions you will be asked in your application.

But does smoking void a life insurance policy? And how much does life insurance go up if you smoke?

Here we look at the truth about how smoking can affect your life insurance cover and premiums.

Can You Get Life Insurance If You Smoke?

Yes, in the majority of cases, smokers are still entitled to a life insurance protection policy – but it’ll come at a price.

Smoking is an even more expensive habit than most people realise. Firstly, there’s the cost of the cigarettes to consider, then add to this the substantially higher life insurance premiums imposed on smokers which can be up to twice as high as those paid by non-smokers.


How much does life insurance go up if you smoke?

For a 30-year-old smoker, life insurance premiums often cost at least a third more than those paid by non-smokers. Those aged over 50 who smoke could be charged double, if not more, depending on individual circumstances.


We all know that smoking has a hugely detrimental effect on our health, with around 78,000 in the UK dying from smoking-related illnesses each year.

Insurers levy these higher premiums against smokers due to the statistical data indicating that smokers are at a far greater risk of disease and premature death as a direct result of their habit.

You are obliged to disclose your smoking habit when you seek insurance. Your insurer is likely to ask about how much you smoke and how long you have smoked for.

Even if you only smoke socially or occasionally, you’ll still be considered a ‘smoker’ by your insurer. In fact, you need to be free of any nicotine for a minimum of 12 months before you are considered a non-smoker – this includes cigarette substitute products like gum, vaping and e-cigarettes, too.

Diseases Associated with Smoking

The disease most commonly associated with smoking is lung-cancer, but it also increases the risk of a number of other serious health conditions including:

  • stomach cancer
  • liver cancer
  • mouth cancer
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • coronary heart disease
  • heart attack
  • stroke

How Does Life Insurance Know If You Smoke?

While it used to be the case that if you said you were a non-smoker, insurers would simply take you at your word – unfortunately, this is rarely the case anymore.

Many providers now require policyholders to pass a life insurance medical exam before approving their policy. This can be used to determine whether or not you smoke, as well as your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar level which can indicate how likely you are to suffer from a life-threatening illness in the future.

There are various examples of ‘no medical’ life insurance, which is typically available to younger policyholders who live a healthy lifestyle.

You may not qualify for life insurance without a medical if:

  • There are examples of hereditary disease in your family
  • You’ve had a life insurance policy turned down anytime in your past
  • You’ve spent a significant amount of time living overseas
  • You’ve disclosed a pre-existing medical condition

Life Insurance Smoking Test (UK)

Life insurers will insist that you undergo a life insurance medical exam, and they are within their rights to ask you to provide a urine or saliva sample for testing.

They can even get in touch with your GP and ask to see your medical records to check your honesty.

Lying about smoking on life insurance cover applications is not advised and could have catastrophic effects on your loved ones in the future. In the event of your death, your insurer WILL investigate the cause. If your death was in any way linked with a smoking-related disease, your life insurance may well be voided and not pay out.

In a best case scenario, your life insurance company may compare what you’ve paid in premiums compared to what you would have paid had you declared your smoking habit – for example, if you only paid 40% in premiums of what you should have paid, your provider will only pay out 40% of your agreed sum. Be sure to check this with your provider, however.

Life Insurance for Ex-Smokers

If the reduced risk to your health isn’t enough to persuade you to consider quitting, the money you’ll save might just change your mind.

Most life insurance providers insist that you have not touched a single cigarette for at least 12 months before being able to class yourself as a non-smoker.

If you have already taken out a life insurance policy but have since gone 12 months without getting a nicotine fix, you can contact your provider to enquire about getting your premiums reduced. It should be noted, however, that many life insurance companies will continue to charge you more than somebody who has never smoked for up to 5 years.

The discount you receive can vary and, in some cases, may not be overly significant. If you’ve smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 40 years, the truth is that a lot of damage has already been done and your premiums are unlikely to fall by too much.

It may even be wise to switch policies to find a cheaper premium. If you’ve recently become a non-smoker, contact us today to find out how we can find you cheaper life insurance premiums.

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Are You a Non-Smoker If You Vape?

Vaping, while not as detrimental to your health as smoking, is considered to be equal to it when it comes to life insurance. If you vape or use e-cigarettes, your premiums are likely to remain high until you quit.

The effects of vaping on life insurance cover premiums could change in the future as doctors and scientists continue to investigate the long term effects of e-cigarettes, but insurers are choosing to proceed with caution for the time being.

Some other nicotine replacements which are likely to have an impact on life insurance premiums include:

  • Using nicotine patches
  • Chewing nicotine gum
  • Using nicotine spray (mouth or nasal)

When’s The Best Time to Get Life Insurance as A Smoker?

Whether you’re a smoker or not, it is almost always better to take out a life insurance policy sooner, rather than later.

Life insurance is typically more expensive for older individuals as they have an increased chance of being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or illness, making them more of a risk to life protection policy providers.

Even if you know that you’re planning on quitting in the near future, it is recommended that you take out a life insurance policy as soon as possible – when you eventually quit smoking, you’ll be rewarded with not only an incredible sense of achievement but reduced life insurance premiums, too.

Make Sure You Compare Quotes

Although premiums are certainly higher for smokers, you don’t need to accept the first quote you find.

Here at, we work with all of the leading life insurance companies to help find you the best quote for your individual needs. Get your quote today by tapping the button below.

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