The Insurance Surgery’s guide to smoking and life insurance
If you smoke any form of tobacco product such as cigarettes, E cigarettes/ Vapes, cigars, tobacco, or anything containing nicotine; you are likely to pay nearly double what a non-smoker would for life insurance. The reason for the premium increase is simply due to the increased risk that smoking presents as many conditions are caused by or linked with smoking. It is also important to remember that some insurers class vaping as smoking, even if the product doesn’t contain any nicotine; this is due to the fact that the habit of vaping makes it more likely for you to start smoking.
According to MoneySuperMarket data, on average smokers will pay 111% more than a non-smoker for the same cover. This is a massive difference and considerably increases premiums for life insurance over the term of the policy. Smoking is expensive enough, but when you add on the subsequent costs like increased life insurance premiums then it becomes even more costly.
Out of the 6.1 million smokers in the UK 3 in 5 want to quit, a recent study from Public Health England reveals. And in 2017/18 there was 489,300 hospital admissions as a result of smoking. If you currently smoke, and want help quitting, the NHS has several resources online to help you.
What happens if I quit smoking?
If you have taken out a policy as a smoker, and have since quit smoking for 12 consecutive months, you should review your existing policy as it is very likely that you will be able to considerably reduce your premiums as you will now be classed as a non-smoker.
The Insurance Surgery are able to offer you a quick and easy review to find out how much your premiums could reduce in as little as a few minutes. For more information call 0800 083 2829 or get a quote.
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 smoking 40+ per day. This means that people who are infrequent social smokers (even if it’s one every weekend or even as little as one per year) will be classed as a smoker and will have to pay a larger premium. This may seem unfair however research suggests that the health risks are similar for anyone who uses tobacco products regardless of how much they smoke, up to certain levels.
However, some pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, will have restrictions on how much you can smoke before the application will be declined. So, if you are a heavy smoker, and also have a pre-existing condition, it is possible that your application may be declined.
The question that is usually asked on most life insurance questions 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 or is likely to in the future.
Health risks associated with smoking
Around 90% of lung cancers are a direct result of smoking according to the NHS. Smoking also causes cancer in many other parts of the body such as:
- Voice box (Larynx)
- Oesophagus (the tube between your month and stomach)
Smoking also damages the blood circulation and causes heart problems, which increase the risk of:
Furthermore, smoking causes direct problems to the lungs and causes condition such as:
- Chronic bronchitis
Frequently asked questions
What happens if I don’t disclose that I smoke on my application?
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:
- Decline any claim made on the basis that the insurance is not valid due to ‘Non-disclosure’ of a material fact.
- 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)
What happens if I give up smoking?
Some providers 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.
Facts to remember
- Insurance premiums can double for smokers
- Not declaring smoking can void your cover at point 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