Updated: September 04, 2019

Critical Illness Cover for Smokers

Are you a smoker looking for critical illness cover? We look at how being a smoker affects policy costs and terms, and how to find a policy for your lifestyle

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Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston - Mortgage Expert

Updated: September 04, 2019

It’s probably no surprise to hear that, when it comes to insurance, smoking will negatively affect your eligibility and the premium you pay. In this article, you’ll find out about critical illness insurance and smoking, and how to get the best deal if you have a history of smoking.

Got some questions, or want to find the most competitive quote for your unique circumstances? Call us on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry and one of the critical illness cover experts that we work with will be happy to help you.

Can smokers get cover for critical illness?

As a rule of thumb, if you smoke, or have used any nicotine products including replacements such as vapes, e-cigs and patches – even once – within the last 12 months, you’ll be classed as a smoker.

It doesn’t really matter what you smoke (i.e. cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco), or how much tobacco you consume (a pack or more a day, or the occasional cigar on weekends), insurers will typically treat smokers equally, however, users with a very high level of tobacco consumption may lead to an additional load on top of the smoker rates.

Critical illness insurance for smokers tends to be more expensive. Depending on your age and overall health, you can expect premiums to be between 25% and 50% higher, even if the rest of their criteria perfectly matches with a non-smoker. Some policies exclude cancers that are commonly associated with smoking.

To find the best critical illness insurance deals as a smoker, make an enquiry. The experts we work with have ‘whole of-market’ access, meaning that they compare your criteria against numerous lenders in order to find your ideal matches.

There are special rates and designations for smokers?

As a smoker, you’re designated as such by the industry. In the best case example, the designation ‘preferred smoker’ is applied to someone who would be deemed very low-risk if not for the fact that they smoked.

But even after you stop smoking, it can still take a few years for better rates, such as ‘Preferred’, or ‘Preferred Plus’ to become available.

Before providing your policy, your insurer may test you

If the chosen insurer requires you to have a medical examination it is common practice for a test for nicotine to be done in your urine using the nicotine/cotinine test if you declare yourself as a ‘non-smoker’ in your application. The test itself is quite precise and is able to detect trace amounts of nicotine.

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What happens if I start smoking after getting critical illness cover?

It is the client’s responsibility to advise your insurer of any changes to your health & circumstances.

You’ll need to update your provider so that they can re-evaluate your premium.

Many people are tempted not to disclose that they smoke to their insurer, but this isn’t advisable. The industry calls this ‘non-disclosure of material facts’ and, in a worst case scenario, it could count as insurance fraud and result in prosecution.

Alternatively, if you come to make a claim and it’s found that you’ve started smoking, your policy could be invalidated, and your claim not paid out at all, or paid out at a reduced rate. And you won’t be able to get the money you spent on your premiums back.

What happens if I stop smoking after getting critical illness cover?

If you’ve stopped smoking after buying a policy and you want your premiums to be adjusted down to ‘non-smoker’, you’ll usually have to wait  12 months before re-broking your policy. You’ll have to apply to do this as it won’t happen automatically.

It’s important to remember that tobacco replacements such as nicotine patches or gum still ‘count’ as smoking, so you’ll have to have gone ‘cold turkey’ for the full year for it to count.

That said, a smaller number of providers are flexible around the use of smoking cessation products. So, if you’ve recently stopped smoking and are keen to try and readjust your premiums, some of the experts we work with may be able to help you find such a provider.

When you reapply, your insurance provider may arrange a test to see if there are any traces of nicotine left in your body. If you pass, you’ll be reclassified and your premiums will decrease accordingly.

What about critical illness cover for vaping?

Historically, insurers treated vaping exactly the same as they treated other forms of tobacco consumption, despite the fact not all vape products contain tobacco!

Now that vaping and electronic cigarettes have become more established, there’s been an increase in specialist insurers offering better rates for vapers. It’s worth noting that these rates are still not as good as the rates available to non-smokers.

If you vape and don’t smoke, one of the experts that we work with may be able to help you find a better deal. Make an enquiry if you’d like to find out more.

Talk to a smoking and critical illness cover expert today

If you have questions about critical illness insurance and want to speak to an expert for the right advice, call us on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry.

The insurance advisors we work with have access to the whole of the market and know exactly which providers offer the best rates for smokers and ex-smokers. We can introduce you to them for free, and there’s absolutely no obligation.

Ask a quick question

We can help! We know everyone's circumstances are different, that's why we work with brokers who are experts in critical illness cover. Ask us a question and we'll get the best expert to help.

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Pete Mugleston

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Expert

About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for OMA of course!

FCA Disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms that are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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