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Life Insurance for Smokers

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The Insurance Surgery guide to Smoking and Life Insurance

It is a little known fact that people who smoke any form of tobacco products such as Cigarettes, Cigars and Tobacco are likely to pay nearly double what a Non-smoker would pay for the same amount of Life Insurance. The size of the increase in premiums is dependant on the age of the applicant(s) and their smoking habits. The reason for the increase in premiums is simply down to the increased risks relating to the many medical conditions related to smoking tobacco.

According to research shown on Money Saving Expert, the average annual premium for a Smoker is £209.76 compared with Non-smokers which is only £113.88 per year. This is clearly a massive difference of £95.88 per year and considerably increases the premiums for Life Insurance over the term of the policy. Smoking is expensive enough these days, but when you add on the subsequent costs like the one for Life Insurance then it becomes even more costly.

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Also, recent research by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that over a third (67%) of smokers in Britain actually wanted to quit smoking. According to a statistician at the ONS there were around 1.5 million hospital admissions in 2008-09 in the UK with diagnosis of a primary disease directly caused by smoking.

What happens if I give up smoking, can I save money?

If you arranged a Life Insurance policy whilst previously being classed as a smoker and you have now stopped smoking (i.e. not smoked for over 12 months), you should review your existing policy. It is very likely that you will be able to considerably reduce your premiums if you are now classed as a non-smoker by up to 50% depending on your medical history.

The Insurance Surgery are able to offer you a very quick and easy review that will let you know what your premiums could reduce by in a few minutes. For more information about this and any other service, please call 0800 083 2829 or visit

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Facts about Life Insurance and smoking

Life Insurance providers are not particularly interested in how much and how often people smoke unless there are very high levels of usage, such as people smoking 40+ cigarettes per day. This means that people who are infrequent social smokers (i.e. 1 cigarette on a weekend or even a couple a year) will generally be penalised by exactly the same amount as people who smoke 10-20 cigarettes per day. This might seem unfair but according to the statistics, the health risks are similar for anyone who uses tobacco products regardless of how much they smoke up to certain levels.

The question that is generally used on Life Insurance applications is: Have you used any form of tobacco product in the last 12 months? This question is used to find out whether a person smokes at all and is likely to in the future.

Health risks relating to smoking:

Around 90% of all Lung Cancers are a direct result of smoking according to NHS Direct. Also, smoking causes cancer in many other parts of the body such as:

  • Mouth
  • Lip
  • Throat
  • Voice box (Larynx)
  • Oesophagus (tube between your mouth and stomach)
  • Bladder
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas

Smoking also damages the blood circulation and causes heart problems, which increases the risk of:

  • Coronery heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Further more, smoking causes direct problems to the lungs and causes conditions such as:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Pneumonia

If you do not disclose that you are a smoker on your actual Life Insurance application and it is later discovered that you lied about smoking, Insurers generally have 2 main options:

    1. Decline any claim made on the basis that the insurance is not valid due to ‘Non-disclosure’ of a material fact.
    2. Re-calculate the percentage of premiums that should have been paid and then deduct that percentage from the sum being claimed for (i.e. If the client has only paid 50% of premiums then 50% would be deducted from the amount being claimed for)

Some providers in the current market offer a review of Life Insurance premiums for people who are no longer classed as smokers (i.e. Have not smoked any tobacco products for at least 12 months). Generally an insurance provider would require a cotinine test which is the industry standard for testing whether a person has smoked in the past year. The provider may also require further information from the GP to ascertain whether there are any underlying problems and they may also ask for a chest X-ray in certain cases.

Alternatively it is possible to re-apply for Life Insurance with an alternative Insurance provider on the basis that you are now classed as a Non-smoker which could reduce your premiums. This is also based on your age and medical circumstances at the point of application which may vary considerably.

Simple Facts to remember:

Insurance premiums can double for Smokers

Not declaring Smoking can void your cover at point the of claim

You are classed as a Smoker for 12 months after stopping smoking, including the use of any Nicotine replacement products

Around 20% of applicants are cotinine tested to check if they are a Smoker or not (i.e. Are they lying about Smoking?)

At The Insurance Surgery, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our service and to help people to reduce costs. If you have taken out a Life Insurance policy through us or any broker on smoking rates and have subsequently stopped for a minimum of 12 months then we offer a free review to try to reduce your premiums signific