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Life Insurance for Smokers

Smoking and life insurance

We all know that smoking is bad for your health. It is also a very expensive habit. However, you might not realise that if you smoke it could also affect your chances of getting affordable life insurance cover.

Because smokers typically die younger, insurers have to mitigate their risk by levying higher premiums on people they class as ‘smokers‘.

But who do insurers classify as a smoker, and what is the impact on their life insurance cover?

Life insurance for smokers

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How do insurers classify a smoker?

In life insurance terms, if you have smoked or used any tobacco products in the past 12 months, you are classed as a smoker.

This means everyone from a 20-a-day cigarette smoker, through to the occasional cigar puffer is, in the insurer’s eyes, a smoker and therefore deemed a higher risk.

Life insurance for ex-smokers

As mentioned above you are still considered a smoker until you have refrained from the use of tobacco for a minimum of 12 months.

Therefore, even if you decide to quit, it is unlikely you will see any immediate benefit reflected in the cost of your premiums.

But, nowadays, insurers provide varying categories for ex-smokers, rather than it being completely black and white. Therefore, the longer you refrain from smoking, the better rates you will get.

If you declare yourself a non-smoker, there is a possibility you will be asked to undergo a nicotine test to prove your smoking status.

Some insurance providers may also allow for the very occasional cigarette, for example up to 4-a-year.

If you have an existing life insurance policy which was taken out when you smoked there is a possibility you can qualify for lower premiums due to your positive lifestyle change.

In this instance, it is best to inform your insurer and see what options they can offer you.

Is vaping classed as smoking?

On the road to quitting, many move to using nicotine replacement products such as patches, gum or most significantly in recent years’ e-cigarettes (vaping).

Whilst turning to these alternative products can improve your health, insurers will still regard you as a smoker until you are free of nicotine for at least 12 months.

Read our blog post on smoking and vaping »

How does smoking affect the cost of premiums?

Smoking can significantly increase the cost of your life insurance premiums.

Typically, it is around a third more for a 30-year-old smoker, and up to double the cost for a 50-year-old smoker.

SunLife suggests by the end of a policy, smokers could pay 75% more for their premiums, than non-smokers for comparable coverage – (source:

Whereas, research published by Money Saving Expert suggests this figure is even higher, at 96% more for a 40-year-old on a fixed term £200,00 policy, over 20 years – (source:

Important considerations for smokers:

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