Life insurance and smoking

How being a smoker, vaper or recent ex-smoker can change what you pay for life insurance

If you’re a smoker, many insurance companies will still give you life insurance, but you may find it costs you more. 

What we mean by a ‘smoker’

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a ‘smoker’, your insurance company might. As well as cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, for many insurers, including us, you’re classed as a smoker if you vape or use nicotine substitutes such as patches, gum or lozenges. So if you puff on strawberry scented e-liquid or chew a stick of nicotine gum, it’s treated the same as any other form of smoking and could affect your monthly life insurance premiums.

Why smoking influences life insurance

Being a smoker could increase the risk that you’ll suffer ill health or disease at a younger age. And that’s something an insurer considers when setting your life insurance premiums. But it’s not the only thing they consider. While you can look for the best life insurance for smokers or cheap life insurance for smokers, remember that what you ultimately pay will depend on other factors too, such as your health and lifestyle. It’s not just about if you smoke or not.

Does it matter how much you smoke?

Whether you’re a 20 a day kind of person, a social smoker, or only vape when you’re stressed, for many insurers, including us, you’re labelled a smoker no matter how much, or how little, you indulge. What it takes to jump from smoker to non-smoker in the eyes of your insurer can vary. With us, to be classed as a non-smoker, you need to have used nothing tobacco or nicotine related, including cigarettes, e-liquid and nicotine replacement products, for 5 years.

The price difference

To help highlight the potential price difference between a smoker and a non-smoker, here’s a simple example based on someone taking out life insurance with us.

A 35-year-old non-smoker, who wants £150,000 of mortgage protection or decreasing life cover to last for 25 years, would pay £8.61 a month. If that same person was a smoker, they would pay £14.24 a month.

Your premium price can also be affected if you’re an ex-smoker, depending on how long it has been since you gave up.

But how does your insurer know if you smoke?

It’s important to be honest about being a smoker when getting life insurance. Any information you give your insurer needs to be truthful and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Otherwise, you run the risk if you ever need to claim that they may not pay out. If you’re thinking ‘but how would they ever know?’, if your claim is investigated and any health report shows evidence you lied, this could invalidate your policy. 

What happens if you quit smoking

If you give up smoking, we’ll class you as a previous smoker when you haven’t used tobacco or nicotine related products for 12 months or more. If you gave up 1-5 years ago, we are able to consider different rates, and if you haven’t used tobacco or nicotine related products for 5 years, you are classed as a non-smoker.  Different insurers may have different guidelines, so make sure you check with them.

If you took out a policy with us when you were a smoker and you then stop, this won’t automatically change your premiums.

However, if you now meet our definition of a non-smoker, you could be eligible to take out a new life insurance policy. You can get a quote to see how being a non-smoker affects how much you pay. Your past smoking history may still affect your price and smoking isn’t the only thing we think about when setting your premiums. We’ll also consider things like your current health and age. 

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