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Life insurance for smokers

We all know the health risks involved in smoking, but how does it affect your life insurance?
Whether you prefer cigarettes or vaping, life insurance for smokers is still available. But it will generally cost you more than it would for a non-smoker. This is because of the higher risk of death and disease that comes with tobacco.

In this guide we cover everything you need to know about smoking and life insurance. We also look at what happens if you quit smoking. It goes without saying that kicking the habit will be better for your health and your finances in the long run.

Can you get life insurance if you smoke?

Yes, it is possible to get life insurance for smokers. Just under seven million adults in the UK smoke and insurers do provide cover for them. But you can expect to pay higher premiums (the amount you pay for your insurance each month) if you smoke. The premium you pay also depends on your age. Younger smokers (aged around 30) will pay around a third more than people who don’t smoke. Life insurance for smokers over 50 can end up paying at least double what non-smokers pay.

Of course, the exact amount you pay depends on the insurer’s criteria for assessing the risk of smoking. It will also depend on other factors such as your general health, occupation and gender. When applying for life insurance it is always best to be honest. If you died and it came to light that you had been a smoker, the insurer may refuse to pay out to your family. Your insurer may also request a medical report from your GP. If the GP tells them that you are a smoker, this could invalidate your policy.

More on Vitality’s life insurance

Is vaping classed as smoking when it comes to life insurance?

Yes, most insurers treat vaping in the same way they treat smoking. This includes experiencing the same premium as a smoker. This is because vaping is a new way of consuming nicotine. We don’t yet know about its long-term effects. In fact, almost all forms are considered the same by insurers. This includes:

· E-cigarettes
· Chewing nicotine
· Using nicotine patches
· Hookah (water pipers)
· Cigars
· Pipes.

If you’re in any doubt, it’s always worth checking with the insurance provider first.

What is considered 'a smoker' for life insurance?

Most insurance companies will class anyone who has consumed tobacco or nicotine in the last 12 months as a smoker. So, whether you smoke two packs a day or have the occasional cigarette on a night out, you will still be seen as a smoker.

Each insurer will see your habits differently, and the amount you smoke may change the band they put you in. An occasional social vaper might pay a lower premium than someone smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

How long do you have to be a non-smoker for to gain a non-smokers life insurance policy?

You should not have used any tobacco or nicotine products for 12 months to be considered a non-smoker. This includes tobacco, vaping and even nicotine patches.
The definition of what is considered a smoker for life insurance depends on the insurer. If you were a smoker in the past but quit, it is worth speaking with the insurer about this before taking out a policy. Life insurance for ex-smokers may cost a little more than it does for someone who never smoked. But over time the premiums might go down.

How much is life insurance for a smoker?

Life insurance often costs more for smokers than non-smokers. This is because of the higher risk of death and serious diseases linked with the habit. Depending on your age at the time you take out the policy, you might pay more or less. A smoker in their early 20s might pay 25% to 30% more than non-smokers. Someone aged 50 or above could pay more than twice as much as non-smokers. The insurer will consider different factors:

· How many years you have smoked
· What you smoke (cigarettes, pipe, e-cigarettes, cigars…)
· How frequently you smoke
· Exercise and lifestyle
· If your health has already been affected by smoking.

The insurance policy you go for will also be a deciding factor. Find out more about our life insurance products here.

What happens if you start smoking after you get life insurance?

If you start smoking after a life insurance policy has been taken out, the insurer cannot raise your premium. But it is a good idea to read the small print and check with the insurer you are interested in. Sometimes the terms and conditions of a policy will require you to disclose if you start smoking. Failing to do so could mean your policy is invalid.

What if you quit smoking later?

If you stop smoking after taking out life insurance for smokers, the good news is that your premiums will likely go down. You normally need to have consumed no tobacco or nicotine products for at least 12 months. That includes nicotine patches, vaping and other methods designed to help you quit tobacco.

Your insurer may ask for evidence that you have stopped smoking. They might ask your GP to provide a report on your general health. This could include doing things like a chest x-ray to assess your general wellbeing.

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