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        Updated: April 19, 2024

        Life Insurance for Smokers

        If you're a smoker there's a good chance you'll need specialist advice about your life insurance. Find out where to get it in our guide

        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 higher-risk life insurance. Ask us a question and we'll get the best expert to help.

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        In the UK, approximately 11,000,000 people smoke – that’s around 16% of the country’s population.

        Although these numbers are depleting year-on-year, it’s still a significant figure, and it stands to reason that so many people want to know how smoking impacts life insurance applications.

        This article sheds some light on how smoking affects life insurance, how providers test for nicotine usage, and more.

        How do life insurance companies define a ‘smoker’?

        As far as insurers are concerned, anyone who has used any tobacco or other nicotine products within a specified time period (usually the last 12 months) is considered a smoker. This includes replacements such as e-cigs and patches.

        Regardless of whether you’re a light smoker or puffing away on 20 a day, you will still be classified as a smoker for insurance purposes and this should always be declared when you’re applying for life cover.

        If you smoke and fail to declare it on your life insurance application, the insurer is likely to adjust your payout or possibly even refuse it entirely.

        By contrast, the definition of a non-smoker for many life insurance providers is someone who has absolutely never inhaled cigarette smoke or the vapourised bi-product produced by a vape.

        Speak to an expert today

        Can I get life insurance as a smoker?

        Yes, it is certainly possible to get life insurance if you’re a smoker – but expect your monthly premiums to be considerably higher than that of a non-smoker due to the associated health risks. The average uplift is around 25%.

        An applicant with an increased risk of death is unfavourable to an insurance provider. If the person they provided insurance for dies, they have to pay out a lump sum and can no longer charge for premiums.

        That being said, every life insurance provider will have a different set of criteria that they use to determine whether or not they can provide life insurance for a smoker.

        The advisors we work with can locate the insurance providers that are more likely to accept you and in doing so, they can highlight the policies which are a better value for money.

        Make an enquiry to get started.

        What affects the price of my life insurance premiums?

        The cost of your insurance premiums can range heavily from company to company, and it’s only after you have provided all the information about your current health and circumstances that an insurer can provide you with an accurate quote.

        Your age, health, occupation and even your postcode can affect the price of your life insurance but the factors that could affect your quote also includes:

        • How long you have been a smoker/vaper
        • What you have smoked
        • Whether your vape contains nicotine
        • How long it’s been since you quit (If you’re a previous smoker)
        • How often you smoke / vape
        • How much exercise you do per week
        • Whether or not your current health is affected by smoking, i.e. you have developed asthma or cancer

        Will I have to take a medical exam?

        It depends on the provider. When you apply for life insurance, you will be subject to questions about your health and lifestyle, including whether you currently smoke or have ever smoked in the past, and you may have to undergo a medical exam.

        If your insurance company asks you to take a nicotine test, it could be in the form of a saliva or urine sample, or sometimes even a blood test (depending on the insurance provider and severity of habit).

        If the results provide evidence that suggests you have a high level of nicotine in your body, the insurer may increase the cost of their premiums or reject your application.

        However, even if your nicotine test results indicate high levels, an insurance advisor may be able to find you a policy that provides cover for you.

        Chat to an expert who can advise you on your next steps.

        Is vaping considered smoking for life insurance purposes?

        Unfortunately, the cost of life insurance for vape users may not be too dissimilar to that of a standard smoker as many life insurance companies still categorise vapes as “cigarettes” because they contain nicotine.

        Therefore, vaping can affect the cost of life insurance. That being said,  some life insurance companies may take a different approach.

        To find life insurance companies that accept vaping, talk to an advisor who can point you in the right direction and secure you a policy that benefits you.

        Do I have to tell my life insurance company if I start smoking after taking out a policy?

        If you start smoking after taking out a non-smoker life insurance policy it is unlikely that your policy could be affected but this could vary between various life companies. It is probably best to be cautious and inform your life company just in case.

        However, if you pass away from a smoking-related illness it may be difficult for your provider to determine when you started smoking, which could result in complications when it comes to payout time.

        Many insurers make it part of their terms and conditions that you must disclose to them if you start smoking so make sure to read through them carefully.

        For peace of mind, it’s advised that you contact your insurer and inform them of any changes to your personal circumstances which may impact your policy.

        How to get the cheapest life insurance rates

        Cheap life insurance may be tempting, especially due to the inflated rates you’re likely to receive as a smoker, but you shouldn’t rush into taking out any old policy.

        As with most things in life, you are getting what you pay for and “too good to be true” deals are often literally that; taking out the cheapest life cover you stumble across could come with hidden clauses, or result in the provider refusing to make a payout when you pass away.

        For bespoke advice and access to the most competitive rates on the market, speak to a whole-of-market broker, like those we work with. They will strive to set you up with not only the cheapest, but most suitable policy for your situation.

        What should I do before I apply for life insurance?

        It can be helpful to prepare yourself for the list of questions that some life insurance companies will ask you on your application.

        These questions can seem invasive and personal but knowing what to expect ahead of applying can help you to provide the right information.

        Delays on application can be frustrating, so speak with an insurance advisor who can best advise you on how to fill out your application as a smoker for term life insurance.

        Speak to an expert

        If you’re still unsure as to how smoking will impact your life insurance, or have any more questions on the subject we’re more than happy to speak with you one-on-one.

        The team of specialists we work with will assess your circumstances, discuss your options, and give you tips on how to land yourself the best value life insurance deals with suitable providers.

        Call us on 0808 189 0463, or fill in an enquiry form online and we’ll be in touch. We only work with 5* accredited brokers, we don’t charge a fee, and you’re under 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 higher-risk life insurance. Ask us a question and we'll get the best expert to help.

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        Richard Angliss

        Richard Angliss

        Finance Expert

        About the author

        Richard Angliss has made a career in financial services which stretches over 40 years.

        His early career was spent learning about the various financial products and applying them to prudent advice, working for one of the largest life assurance and investment firms. After that he joined the financial services arm of a very well-known firm providing independent advice to their 8 million customers.

        For the last 20 years he has been involved in building software solutions that help Advisers and clients work together to achieve good financial outcomes and helping to set up three independent advisory firms. He also has written many articles for financial services publications and provided commentary for newspaper journalists.

        At an early stage in his career he realised the great satisfaction that comes with being able to help people achieve their goals and protect their families. “Regulation of financial services has hugely impacted on ensuring people get appropriate advice. The issue these days is access to that advice and just as importantly regular reviews to make sure that everything stays on track”.

        With the growing development of online resources such as Online Money Advisor he sees a great future for people to access advice to make their pension and investment work harder for them.  Plus, of course, to ensure they have insurance products in place that will be required when unforeseen events happen.

        He knows getting that balance right is crucial to prudent financial planning and the wellbeing of individuals and their families.

        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 as well as any of our own are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who 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.