Life insurance for smokers
We all know that smoking is bad for your health, it’s also a very expensive habit. However, you might not realise that this life threatening habit can also negatively 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 who they class as ‘smokers’.
But who do insurers classify as a smoker, and what is the impact on their life insurance policy?
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 that everyone from a 20-a-day smoker, through to the occasional cigar puffer are, in the insurer’s eyes, smokers and therefore deemed a higher risk.
On the road to quitting smoking, many move to using nicotine replacement products such as patches, gum or e-cigarettes. Whilst turning to these alternative products can improve your health, the insurance companies will still class you as a smoker until you are completely free of nicotine for at least 12 months.
How does smoking affect premiums?
Insurers generally treat all smokers the same, so regardless on whether you’re an occasional smoker, or a 2-packet-a-day puffer, you’ll be tarred with the same brush.
This can mean a significant increase in your insurance premiums, typically around a third more for a 30-year-old smoker, and up to double the cost for a 50-year-old smoker.
Be honest on your policy application
It can be tempting to claim you’re a non-smoker when actually you are, particularly when you consider the increased premiums. However, it is highly likely you’ll be caught out, as insurance providers run checks on the medical history of around one in five applicants, which will flag up instantly if you’ve been lying.
Even if you avoid the spot checks, your policy is unlikely to pay out if you are discovered to be a smoker. If you die or develop a critical illness, your medical notes will reveal that you are a tobacco user and your insurer will usually take one of two courses of action:
- They just won’t pay out at all and all your monthly premiums will have been wasted
- They will pay a proportion of your benefit, in line with how much less you paid than you would have if you’d declared yourself a smoker.
The best way to mitigate the additional cost of life insurance for smokers is to stop smoking. Even if you take out your policy as a smoker, the Association of British Insurers state that insurance providers should review your policy and premiums if you subsequently give up.
Serious medical conditions linked with smoking
The disease most commonly associated with smoking is lung cancer, but did you know that smoking also increases the risk of a number of other serious conditions, including:
- Mouth cancer / Stomach cancer / Liver cancer
- Chronic bronchitis
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attack.
Stopping smoking is never easy, but it does come with some major benefits that might give you the willpower to quit. As well as spending less on life insurance and buying cigarettes, you’ll end up looking and feeling better, probably increasing your life expectancy too.
If you’re keen to quit, here are some tips to help you stop:
- Talk to your GP: Your doctor has a variety of tools at their fingertips which can help you to stop. From nicotine replacement products to anti-smoking medication, you’ll be able to get some practical support from your local GP
- Join a local group: Studies have shown that it’s easier to stop when you quit with the support of others, and there are many groups around the UK that will welcome you along. The NHS runs stop smoking services right across the country, staffed by trained advisers
- Use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and sometimes willpower alone is not enough. Many people achieve more success by weaning themselves off the drug gradually, using NRT such as patches, gums or inhalers
- Keep busy: Smoking and boredom go hand in hand, so avoid falling into the boredom trap by keeping your hands busy. Take up an instrument, learn a new skill or write that novel you’ve always dreamed of
- Exercise more: Studies have shown that people who take more exercise are less likely to smoke. The endorphins released following a workout class will make you feel better in yourself, helping you avoid reaching for the cigarettes through stress.
What if you start smoking after taking out life insurance?
If you start smoking after taking out a life insurance policy as a non-smoker, it is imperative that you tell your insurance company as soon as possible that you are now a smoker. If you do not inform your insurer, this could impact on your ability to claim on your policy.
Important considerations for smokers:
- Be honest: Always disclose your smoking status when applying for life insurance
- Tests: Insurers can test to see if you are a smoker, or on occasions check your medical history
- Don’t delay: Putting off taking out a policy, hoping to qualify as a non-smoker at some point in the future, can leave you exposed/unprotected
- Review your policy: If you do become a non-smoker, review your life insurance cover, you could save money
- Higher life insurance premiums: Premiums can as much as 30% more for a 30-year-old smoker and up to 50% more for a 50-year-old
- Give it time: Insurers will still classify you as a smoker for 12 – 18 months after quitting, (this includes the use of any Nicotine replacement products)
Talk to our Reassured consultants on 0808 168 2025 and let us compare quotes from the UK’s leading providers, helping you secure the best and most affordable policy, even if you smoke. Alternatively Start Your Quote online today.