It’s no secret that smoking poses a risk to your health. This is why your smoking status affects the cost of taking out life insurance – and not insignificantly. Below we’ll explain how life insurance for smokers works, what counts as being a smoker (or a non-smoker), and how quitting can reduce your life insurance premiums.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance gives financial protection to those you care about if you die. You pay monthly premiums to your chosen insurer, who’ll then pay out an agreed lump sum if a valid claim is made during the policy term. A life insurance payout could give the most important people in your life – most commonly your partner or children – the financial support they need to cope without you and your income.

Any adult over the age of 18 can take out life insurance, but in many cases, people start to think about getting life insurance once they have financial dependents who rely on their income or assets. Read more about how life insurance works here.

Why does smoking affect life insurance costs?

All insurance policies are based on risk. The hard truth is: smoking poses risks to your health that increase the likelihood of you dying sooner than if you were a non-smoker. From an insurer’s perspective, they’ll want to charge higher premiums if there’s a greater chance of a claim being made on your life insurance policy during the policy term. That’s why it’s more expensive to get insured if you’re a smoker.

Am I classed as a smoker?

If you’ve used nicotine in the last 12 months, you’ll be categorised as a smoker for life insurance purposes. When you apply for a policy, you’ll need to answer some health questions, and your smoking status will be part of that. Even if you’re an occasional or ‘social smoker’, you’ll still need to disclose your nicotine usage truthfully. If a medical report reveals that you gave inaccurate information about your smoker status when you applied – known as ‘misrepresentation’ – any future claim on the policy could be invalidated.

Does vaping affect my life insurance?

Yes. At the moment, most insurers consider any nicotine replacement products – like patches, gum, vapes and e-cigarettes – to be no different to tobacco products. Just as they don’t differentiate full-time or part-time smokers, most insurers won’t differentiate between people who smoke cigarettes, cigars or pipes vs. those who use a nicotine replacement product.

This is the situation for now, but it could change in the future (some insurers are already considering reduced premiums for nicotine-replacement users). It’s partly because there’s no clear medical consensus around the health impact of vaping yet. And partly because a nicotine addiction could indicate a propensity to go back to using tobacco products, even if you’re currently using nicotine replacement alternatives.

When will I be classed as a non-smoker?

If you’ve not smoked or used nicotine replacement alternatives for 12 months, you can state that you’re a non-smoker in your life insurance application. This will reduce your premiums. If you quit smoking while you have a life insurance policy, it could well be worth revisiting the cover you have in place. Cancelling your policy and taking out a new policy as a non-smoker could be a cheaper option, even if you’re older (though again, the 12 month rule will apply).

How much will life insurance cost me as a smoker?

Taking out life insurance as a smoker will mean you’ll pay higher premiums – but how much higher? We’ve put together some price comparisons to show how smoker vs. non-smoker premiums compare. We all know that quitting smoking is good for our health and finances – but it can also significantly reduce how much it costs to insure your life.

  • Life insurance premiums are higher for smokers than non-smokers due to increased health risks
  • Insurers base their prices on risk, and if you're smoker, they'll see you as higher risk (and more likely to make a claim on your policy)
  • Most insurers treat nicotine replacement products like patches and vaping the same as cigarettes (though this could change in the future)
  • You can classify yourself as a non-smoker if you quit smoking or using nicotine replacement alternatives for 12 months
  • It’s very important to be honest about your smoking status when you apply for life insurance – otherwise you risk invalidating a future claim
What is life insurance?
An insurance policy that pays out a tax-free lump sum to your partner or family if you die. It’s designed to make sure your loved ones would be financially secure without you and your income.
Who needs life insurance?
Anyone who has financial dependents. In other words: other people who rely on your income. If you have a partner or children who’d be financially affected by you dying, you should consider having some life insurance in place.
How much does life insurance cost?
Life insurance is often very affordable, but the cost differs per person. This is because it depends on the cover you buy and how much of a risk you are to insure (based on your age, health and lifestyle). It’s cheapest when you’re young, fit and healthy.
Does life insurance always pay out?
Life insurance will pay out if you die while you’re insured and you were honest about your health when you applied. It won’t pay out if you die after your policy runs out or you cancel your policy – and might not if you meet an exclusion (e.g. many insurers exclude death by suicide within the first year of taking out the policy).
Is it easy to claim?
Claiming on a life insurance policy is straightforward – your partner or family simply claim directly with your insurance company. Making sure they know about your policy and have the details in case the worst happens can be helpful.

This post is intended for informative purposes only and does not constitute advice.