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Life insurance for smokers

Life insurance for smokers

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Last updated: 28 May 2021

Life insurance will likely be more expensive if you are a smoker, but shopping around can still help you get a good deal.

Can you get life insurance if you are a smoker?

Yes you can. It will probably increase the cost of your life insurance premium though.

How can smoking affect the cost of your life insurance?

Due to the health risks of smoking (such as cancer, angina and heart disease), if you currently smoke you will pay almost certainly have to pay more for life insurance cover.

If you have no plans to quit smoking then the best time to take out a policy is now; the older you become the more your premiums will go up regardless of whether you smoke or not.

If you plan on quitting smoking (or have just quit) you usually have to be nicotine free for 12 months before you may be allowed to access lower premiums (see below for more information).

What if you quit smoking?

You usually must have quit smoking, and stopped using any nicotine products, for at least 12 months to qualify for lower insurance premiums. With some insurance companies this required 'smoke-free' period can be as long as 5 years.

If you are nicotine-free for this amount of time and tell your life insurance provider to update your policy, you may get a reduced rate on your premium. This is not guaranteed though. 

Insurers will often seek a report from the policyholder's doctor, and if necessary, ask for a chest X-ray. Your age and the value of the policy will also be taken into consideration when you inform the company that you have quit.

Do you have to tell life insurance companies that you smoke?

Yes you do.

Being a smoker puts you into a high-risk life insurance category, as it puts you at risk of developing life threatening conditions that you may not encounter if you are a nonsmoker.

What happens if you lie about smoking?

If you lie when taking out a life insurance policy it is classified as 'material misrepresentation'. 

It is very risky to lie about this. Insurers can ask for a urine or saliva test to find out whether you smoke, and they may even contact your GP for information on your medical history. 

If you are found to have lied about a tobacco habit, the following may happen:

  • Your life insurance may not pay out. This is more likely to happen if you pass away as a result of a smoking-related illness.
  • The insurance provider may reduce the payout on any claim made.

What if you vape or use other non-tobacco nicotine products?

Unfortunately insurance providers generally do not make a distinction between cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, and other nicotine products such as patches and nicotine gum.

This means that even if you do not use a tobacco product but use a nicotine alternative, you will still have to declare yourself as a smoker when taking out a new policy.

Do occasional smokers need to inform insurers?

Yes.

Usually, a life insurance company will not see any discernible difference between someone who smokes 20 cigarettes a day and someone who smokes 1 cigarette a week.

This blanket ban on smoking means that if you smoke at all, technically you should inform your insurer, which could affect your insurance premiums.

Some insurance companies are coming around to the idea of occasional smokers though, and do not always classify them in the same category as a tobacco user. For this reason it is important to shop around and compare policies from a range of providers.

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Emily Patel

Author: Emily Patel

Emily is an MA student and freelance writer. In addition to her work on at usave, she has written many film and theatre reviews, from comedy to horror. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming and travelling.