Are you a smoker looking for life insurance cover? The bad news is that you may be expected to pay higher monthly premiums for your policy. This is due to the long-term health risks associated with smoking. But the good news is, there are plenty of life insurance providers who understand that smokers need protection too.

Most people are aware of the adverse health effects caused by smoking. As a result, many life insurance companies increase premiums for smokers.

Being a smoker shouldn’t stop you from getting life insurance, and it doesn’t make the process any longer and/or difficult. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about purchasing life insurance if you're a smoker.

Can smokers get life insurance?

Yes, smokers can certainly get life insurance. However, since insurance companies consider smoking a high-risk factor, premiums for smokers may be generally higher than non-smokers. How much higher depends on the insurer and could differ greatly between companies.

Smokers should still think about life insurance to provide financial security for their families or loved ones. So, if you smoke and are looking for life insurance cover, you have plenty of options to choose from.

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What is classed as a smoker?

A smoker is generally defined as someone who has smoked any type of tobacco and/or nicotine product in the past 12 months. This includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, and other smokeless tobacco products. Even if you only smoke occasionally or have quit recently, you may still be considered a smoker for life insurance purposes.

The Health Risks of Smoking

Smoking is a major health risk and can lead to a variety of serious illnesses, including, but not limited to:

  • Cancer

  • Heart attack

  • Stroke

  • Respiratory diseases

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Osteoporosis

  • COPD

In addition to these physical health risks, smoking can also have a negative impact on mental health. Studies show that smokers are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than non-smokers. Learn more about applying for life insurance with a mental health disclosure.

How long after quitting smoking are you considered a non-smoker?

Most companies may consider you a non-smoker if you have not smoked in at least 12 months. However, this can vary depending on the insurer.

A non-smoker is usually defined as someone who has not used tobacco or nicotine products in the past 12 months. This can include nicotine patches, gums, inhalers, lozenges, e-cigarettes, etc. In this case, it’s best to check with the insurer before applying for cover.

How will smoking affect my life insurance cover?

Smokers often face higher premiums than non-smokers when it comes to life insurance. Some drawbacks to a/future policy can include:

  • Increased Premiums: Smokers typically pay higher premiums than non-smokers because of the additional health risks associated with smoking.
  • Reduced Cover and Availability: Some providers may refuse to sell a policy to a smoker, or even offer limited cover options.
  • Difficult to Find Cover: It could be difficult to get insurance cover as a smoker. Even more so if you have certain complications from smoking, such as COPD or other lung related medical conditions in your health history.

The costs of your premiums could depend on the type of policy you choose and the amount of cover you need. Other factors, such as your age, health and occupation, may also affect the cost of your premiums.

Options for cover

Even if you are a smoker, there are still a variety of life insurance policies available to you. Here are some of the main types of cover:

Whole life insurance

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that provides cover for your entire life. A guaranteed lump sum is paid out when the policyholder dies - so long as they continue paying premiums.

Whole life insurance premiums are typically higher than term life insurance, but they remain fixed throughout the duration of the policy. This can be ideal for locking in rates and ensuring premiums won’t increase over time.

Due to the nature of the policy, it’s important to understand that you may pay more in than you would get back. This of course also depends on the level of cover you have in place.

If you are unsure or would like to talk your options through with an adviser to ensure you get the policy you wanted, please call us on 01392 436 193.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance is a type of temporary protection, providing cover for a set period of time, usually between 5 – 30+ years. It’s typically much cheaper than whole life insurance, since a payout is not guaranteed, and can be a great option for affordable cover.

The policy pays out if you die during the term of the policy. The amount of cover you can get depends on the type of policy, but it’s also based on your age and health at the time of purchase.

Joint life insurance

Typically used by spouses or partners, joint life insurance provides cover for two people under a single policy. Depending on the plan you purchase, it pays out when either member dies, or once both members have passed away. It could be a good idea for couples looking to protect each other financially, if anything happens to the other. Learn more about joint life insurance.

Over 50s life insurance

Over 50s life insurance is a type of whole life insurance specifically designed for people aged 50 and over. It’s usually cheaper than other types of cover, as the plan is not medically underwritten.

This means that you are guaranteed to be accepted for the policy, but a moratorium period applies where pre-existing conditions are excluded. This is usually between 6 - 24 months and can vary insurer by insurer.

Through Cavendish Online, Over 50s is only available via our advised route. To speak to an adviser, you can call us on 01392 436 193.

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Is vaping classed as smoking?

Vaping has become a popular alternative to smoking in recent years. According to a 2022 study by the Action on Smoking Health - 56% of vapers in the UK are ex-smokers. Though vaping is not completely risk-free, it only poses a small fraction of the risk of smoking tobacco.

Most insurers will class vaping as smoking. This means that if you vape, you may be charged higher premiums than non-smokers. Some insurers may also offer lower rates to vapers, who can demonstrate they have switched from smoking tobacco to vaping, especially if there is no nicotine in the vape. You will be able to disclose this on your application, and your insurer may require a nicotine test to be sure.

Overall, while vaping is thought to be a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, it is still not without risk. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the potential implications for life insurance premiums.

What to Expect When Applying for Life Insurance as a Smoker

When applying for life insurance, you will be asked to disclose any health risks associated with your lifestyle, including smoking.

If you are a smoker, you can expect to pay higher premiums than non-smokers. It is important to shop around and compare different life insurance policies before making a decision. This will help you find the best cover at the most affordable rate.

What if I lie about smoking on my insurance application?

It is important to be honest when applying for life insurance. If you lie about your smoking habits, the insurer may refuse to pay out if you make a claim. In some cases, they may even cancel your policy.

Therefore, it is important to be truthful when applying for life insurance. This includes disclosing any smoking habits, whether you are a smoker or vape. Furthermore, you should disclose any pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer, as this could also affect your premiums.

What happens if I quit smoking?

If you choose to quit smoking, and go 12 months or more without smoking, you should inform your life insurer, as they may be able to reduce your premiums to non-smoker rates.

Most likely though, you will need to re-apply for a new policy with non-smoking rates to benefit from the cheaper premium and potentially cancel the old one if you don’t need it.

As other parts of your health or lifestyle may have changed as well, it’s usually best to get your new quote before cancelling anything you already have in place, just in case there are complications with your new application.

In addition, quitting smoking could also have a positive impact on your health. It might also reduce your risk of developing serious illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease.

Where to get advice

If you're searching for life insurance as a smoker, we're here to help. Our expert advisers can provide you with tailored advice and guidance to help you find the best policy for your needs. They’ll discuss your health & financial information to find the best cover for individual needs.

Once they've understood your needs, they'll research the market to offer advice, identifying types of cover that suit your requirements.

Your adviser will provide continuous support during the application process, to ensure you have the guidance you need along the way. Speak to an adviser today to begin your life insurance journey.

Speak to the experts...

Give our advisers a call today.

Our team of friendly and professional advisers are on hand to help with any questions you may have regarding Life Insurance.

The advisers can also make recommendations tailored to your current situation and will research the market on your behalf, ensuring you secure the cover you need and supporting you every step of the way. 

01392 43 61 93(Monday to Friday, 9am - 5.30pm)

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