Life insurance for smokers

As you can probably imagine, if you are a smoker your life insurance is going to more expensive than if are a non-smoker. In many cases life insurance cover can increase by as much as 40%. The reason for this is due to the added health risk smoking brings. According to Cancer UK, 1 in 4 cancers could be linked to smoking and 85% of deaths from lung cancer are linked to smoking.

Being a smoker, as well as attracting the smoker premium, you could also be looking at a ‘loading’ if you suffer from any another medical condition. A loading is an insurance term where the insurance company increases the original premium due to an extra risk factor such as a medical condition. Usually asthma will be classed as standard rates for life insurance cover which means it will not affect your premium, however if you are asthmatic and a smoker, your premiums with some insurance companies can go up by 50%.

If you are asthmatic and a smoker, regardless of how well controlled your asthma is, you are liable to a premium increase. Any heart, lung or diabetes alongside being a smoker, again can incur an extra loading.

Income protection is very popular amongst smokers because with many insurance companies, income protection can be taken out at the same cost, whether you are a smoker or not. The chances of breaking your leg and having time off work will not increase because you are smoker.

If you are currently trying to quit smoking, there are policies out there that we at Proadvice can recommend to you. The premiums start low to begin with and slowly increase each year. The sooner you can successfully give up smoking the sooner you can fix your premiums to a standard plan with no increases or smoking loadings on your insurance policy.

How will the insurance company find out if I smoke?

There are three obvious ways an insurance company can normally find out if you are a smoker or not;

  • Your honesty
  • The internet
  • Your Doctors records

When taking out life cover, critical illness cover or income protection one of the first questions you will be asked is whether you have used or taken any nicotine or tobacco products within the last year. This question is very deliberate, you will not be asked, “apart from when you are out on a night out and have had a drink, have you had a cigarette” or “apart from the odd cigar at Christmas, do you smoke?”

A company will not accept that you may think there is a difference between social smokers and someone that smokes 40 cigarettes a day; as far as the insurance provider is concerned any form of smoking is still an increased risk and they will need to know if you smoke. If you do happen to be a heavy smoker there may be further additional costs on your plan.  

Most people will answer this question truthfully and rightly so. Please remember that before any medical questions are asked, you will be read the following statement; “please make sure that you answer all of the questions truthfully and accurately and to the best of your knowledge. Failure to do so can result in a non-payment of claim and/or your policy being cancelled.” 

Remember, you will be asked if you take any nicotine or tobacco products, so this is not just referring to cigarettes. Pipes, nicotine patches and nicotine gum will also count as nicotine products.

There have been instances in the past where people have been caught out by social media. I am sure we have heard of a story where someone has phoned into work sick only then to post that they were skiving on Facebook. Forgetting they were friends with their boss or that their security settings allowed people to see their posts. Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can also be checked by the insurance provider company to ascertain if you are a smoker. If you are found to be a smoker this could invalidate your policy. You must be truthful with everything you disclose to your insurance company.

In some cases the insurance company may decide they need evidence to prove your smoking status before the plan can start. The insurance company can also request that you take a test for nicotine by requesting a urine sample. On your medical records there may also be a note of where you have told your GP that you smoke or have been trying to give up. All of these points are important to take into consideration by the insurance company and yourself when taking out a life insurance plan. If you do smoke, even if it is every now and again, you must declare this to the insurance company.

The good news is if you are a smoker by speaking to your Proadvice adviser, we can make sure you get the best rates available to you as a smoker. We at Proadvice can advise you on;

Insurance companies that will only ask you about tobacco, so if you are attempting to give up smoking and are using nicotine patches or nicotine gum, it is irrelevant so you will be able to benefit from non-smoker rates

  • Where to go if you are a heavy smoker
  • Which insurance providers offer the most favourable rates for smoking asthmatics
  • If you have the occasional celebratory cigar, the insurance provider that can offer you non-smoker rates 

Proadvice must reiterate that you must be honest and upfront, rather than letting an insurance company discover that you have falsely supplied inaccurate information.  Be open and true and it will save your time and money from the onset.

When can I change to non-smoking rates for my Life Cover if I have quit smoking?

With an insurance plan you must have stopped smoking for at least a year to be classed as a non-smoker. This will includes the odd one you may have had on a social occasion or when you have had a drink or possibly a cigar at Christmas. Nicotine patches and nicotine gum are also included; as it has to be a whole year of not using any tobacco or nicotine products. This shows the insurance company that you have broken your addiction and dependency on the nicotine and are truly a non-smoker. Proadvice recommend that when planning to give up smoking that you tell your GP your intentions. Not only will your GP be able to offer you support and point you towards advice on quitting smoking on websites such as http://smokefree.nhs.uk/. It may also prove to be favourable to the insurance company to see that you have that you are attempting to give up smoking on your medical records.

To become a non-smoker for insurance purposes, you will need to advise your insurance company that you have been nicotine free for a year. Your insurance company will then arrange either a GP report or a nicotine test to gather evidence to back up your claim. If you call your Proadvice broker they will be able to find you a better deal on your insurance, now that you are a non-smoker especially if your policy had a medical loading that was due to you being a smoker. For example you had a 50% increase because you were a smoking asthmatic.  

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