Smokers can benefit from life insurance, and many choose to take out a policy despite their risk level
Around one in eight of those aged 18 or over in the UK are smokers, with around 4 million also using vapes daily. Despite a decrease in cigarette use in recent years, vapes have increased in use with 7.1% of the adult population now using them. However, many don’t realise this could affect your life insurance policy and the premiums you pay.
In this guide, we run through everything you need to know about how smokers' status and life insurance work. We also cover the products you could be eligible for as well as some of the important facts you need to know before applying.
The information on this page should not be considered as financial advice. If you are unsure what’s right for you, please make sure you speak to a financial adviser.
A cigarette is not the only form of smoking recognised by an insurance provider. This technicality catches many people out when applying for life insurance. You’ll also usually be classed as a smoker if you use any nicotine products, patches, vapes or even if you only smoke casually.
For more accurate premiums, you’ll need to be honest about whether you smoke or use any nicotine-based products. Failing to do this could invalidate your claim, leaving your loved ones unable to receive your death benefit if you pass away during your life insurance term.
Cigarettes are the first thing that comes to mind when you’re asked if you’re a smoker, and you should always answer this honestly. Whether you smoke a pack a day or casually smoke throughout the month, this is still considered smoking by an insurance provider.
Despite being less harmful to your body than cigarettes, vapes and e-cigarettes still carry risks. As they include nicotine, most insurance providers will classify vapes as a form of smoking. If you vape, even occasionally, you won’t be able to say you’re a non-smoker and could risk invalidating your insurance if you do.
Nicotine substitutes are commonly used to help smokers wean themselves off cigarettes and are recommended by the NHS as a form of treatment. Nicotine substitutes, also known as nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), include vapes, lozenges or gum, patches, sprays and prescription medicine.
Even if you’re in the process of quitting smoking and haven’t touched a cigarette in a while, you’ll still need to identify as a smoker. You won’t usually be able to claim you’re a non-smoker until you’ve completely quit the products for at least 12 months without relapse (however this can vary between different insurance companies, so it’s best to make sure you check).
Yes. Smokers can still benefit from life insurance, so whether you smoke regularly or only occasionally, you should be able to find the right cover for you.
However, you will usually pay higher premiums than a non-smoker, so it’s worth remembering this when applying and finding your provider. You’ll also need to be honest about your situation, including current health and lifestyle conditions.
Across the industry, the majority of claims are paid, but a small number aren’t, and this may be due to withheld medical or lifestyle information. When you sign up for life insurance, make sure you are completely honest about your medical and lifestyle information - including your smoking history when you apply for (or update) your insurance.
If you provide false or misleading information, it could invalidate your claim and mean your loved ones lose out if you pass away during your life insurance term. By telling your insurer that you’re a smoker, it allows them to assess your situation more accurately, offering you the correct premiums and cover to meet your needs. It also safeguards your death benefit so your family can collect it if you pass away during the term of your life insurance.
It’s really important that you inform your insurance provider of any smoking habits, no matter how frequently they take place. Tobacco and nicotine carry their risks and have been known to cause illness and diseases for some. Your insurance provider will need to factor this in when producing a life insurance quote for you.
Simply, if you lie about your smoking habits, your family and beneficiaries could lose your death benefit. Failing to tell an insurer that you smoke could invalidate your policy. Whilst mistakes do happen when filling in applications, it’s important to resolve them as quickly as possible so your loved ones aren’t left without.
For non-smokers and low-risk individuals, life insurance policies could start from as little as £5. However, smokers could see life insurance policies starting from more than this due to their level of risk. This considers your level of risk but will also depend on other factors like age and other health conditions.
The way insurers work out how much people need to pay for life or critical illness insurance is based on age, risk and life expectancy. Smokers have a higher risk of poor health and shorter life expectancy because of the links between smoking and some life-threatening diseases. This means the cost of these types of insurance is higher for smokers than for non-smokers.
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The criteria will depend on the insurer your policy is with. However, most will classify you as a non-smoker if you haven’t used a cigarette or nicotine substitute within at least the last 12 months. Unfortunately, if you do use a nicotine product or even casually smoke a cigarette, you won’t usually be considered a non-smoker by insurers.
If you already have a life insurance policy, it’s in your interests to let your insurer know that you no longer smoke, although you don’t have to. Whilst telling them won’t always mean you’ll benefit from lower premiums on your current policy, you can shop around and see if you are able to get a new policy with the same insurer, or a different insurer and benefit from possibly cheaper premiums by taking out a new policy.
We want you to live a healthy and happy life. So, if you do smoke, why not take this opportunity to think about quitting? We know it’s not an easy thing to give up, and you might want to try nicotine replacements such as gum, patches, vaping, or prescription medication to help beat the cravings.
Useful resources to help you stop smoking:
At LV=, our life insurance policies are designed to give you peace of mind for your family’s future. Even if you smoke, you can still take out a life insurance policy to cover you and your family. We’ve partnered with independent financial advisers, LifeSearch, to offer you financial advice on the protection products that are right for you. Request a callback today.