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Life insurance for smokers

If you smoke then you will have to pay smoker rates for life insurance. This is simply because of the health-related risks connected to smoking over a period of time.

You can get better smoker life insurance rates simply by applying to the right insurers.

It is a fact that life insurance premiums for smokers are higher than for non-smokers. We aim to offer the best life insurance rates for a smoker from our comprehensive list of insurance partners.

Getting affordable life insurance for smokers can be tough if you don’t know where to look. Some insurance companies charge considerably higher rates for smokers than non-smokers.

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Some useful tips to save money on your life insurance

  • Quit smoking: if you intend to give up smoking in the future then you could switch to non-smoker rates. You must be nicotine-free for over 12 months to be eligible
  • Nicotine free vaping: some insurance companies do not classify this type of product as smoking
  • Age and term: life insurance rates are lower for younger people and especially for smokers. Also, you can reduce your premiums by taking a more realistic term

The average cost of life insurance for a smoker

Here are a few examples of how much you will pay for smokers life insurance.

AgeAmount of CoverTerm of CoverPremium

*all of the above premiums are an average of the top 3 insurance quotes as of Nov. ‘20 based on a smoker with no other medical issues

Definition of a smoker for life insurance

You are considered to be a smoker for life insurance if you have used any of the following within the past 12 months:

  • Cigarettes or cigars
  • Pipes or tobacco
  • Nicotine replacement products (e.g. patches or gum)
  • E-cigarettes or Vapes

If you have used any nicotine-based products in the past year then you will be classed as a smoker. You’ll need to be nicotine-free for 12 months or more to qualify for non-smoker rates.

How do life insurance companies check to see if I am a smoker?

Life insurance companies use two different methods to check if someone is a smoker or not

  • Cotinine tests: this is a test that is usually performed by a nurse or doctor to check for cotinine in your system. The most common test is a saliva-based kit which produces a result almost instantly and is fairly reliable
  • Medical records: life insurance companies will sometimes request to view your medical information from your GP. This will often show whether you are a smoker or not

What if I don’t tell life insurance companies that I smoke?

You should make sure that you disclose accurate information about your health and lifestyle when applying for life cover.

If you fail to disclose information that could have an impact on your cover or premiums then it could have an impact later on. There are a couple of things that could happen if you don’t tell your insurer that you smoke:

  • Claim declined: the worst-case scenario is that your claim might be refused and your family may not receive a payout
  • Premiums increased (pro-rata): your insurer may ask you or your family to pay the difference between the smoker and non-smoker rates. If for example, your premiums should have been 40% higher then your insurer may only pay 60% of your claim

No exam life insurance for smokers

It is possible that you may be asked to have a medical exam for life insurance if you are a smoker. There are a few reasons why your insurer might ask for a this

  • Older people: people over a certain age who smoke can be asked to attend a nurse appointment
  • Higher amounts of cover: if you’re looking for a higher amount of cover (e.g. £500,000 or more) then a medical might be requested
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: if you’re a smoker and you’ve already got a medical condition then you might be asked to provide medical records

There are some products that won’t require you to provide medical information or ask any medical questions

  • Guaranteed acceptance life insurance for smokers
  • Over 50’s life insurance
  • Funeral cover

These products are quicker and easier to apply for but can exclude pre-existing medical conditions. They also generally don’t offer the same quality of cover or the same value for money as a traditional life insurance policy.

Life insurance smoker vs non-smoker

There are several medical reasons why life insurance premiums are higher for smokers than non-smokers. It is medically proven that smoking has an impact on your health and is the cause of medical problems, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Angina
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchitis

Life expectancy for someone that is a smoker is a minimum of 10 years less than a non-smoker. If you stop smoking before the age of 40 then this reduces your risk of dying from a smoking-related illness by around 90%.**


*Premiums are based on £100,000 over a 20-year term as of Nov. ’20 for a person with no other medical issues.
**CDC report on Tobacco-Related Mortality

Cancer life insurance for smokers

Smokers account for over 70% of lung cancer cases in the UK according to the NHS Choices website. The biggest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking.


It can be slightly more complicated to get life cover if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. It’s better to speak to an expert if you’ve been diagnosed with a more serious medical condition such as cancer and you need life cover.

Best life insurance for a smoker

Life insurance is simply the best and cheapest way to protect your family and their financial future. A standard term life cover policy will provide a cash lump sum if you pass away during the cover period.

It’s always good to think about why you need life cover before you apply or to ask an expert for advice.

Things to consider:

  • Do you have children?
  • How old are your kids and how many do you have?
  • Have you got a mortgage or pay rent?
  • What would you like to leave to your loved ones?

What happens if you start smoking after life insurance?

We often get asked if you need to tell your insurer about things that happen in the future. You shouldn’t need to tell them if anything changes in the future as long as it’s not part of your cover requirements.

Most life insurance policies are written on a guaranteed basis which means that premiums won’t change. This is also true of any changes in health or lifestyle after you have taken the policy.

Smokers life insurance with pre-existing conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition and you are a smoker then you may have slightly fewer options.

Some of the main insurers have restrictions when it comes to smoking linked with certain pre-existing medical conditions. You might find that your options could be reduced slightly if you’ve got a medical problem and you smoke.

Conditions that have restrictions when linked to smoking:

It can be considered to be a higher risk if you smoke and you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Life insurance for smokers over 50

It is possible to get life cover if you are over 50 and you will have the added option of taking Over 50’s cover.

Many people aged over 50 only need life cover for the cost of funeral cover which is what an Over 50’s policy is designed for. You’ll be able to take this kind of policy as a smoker and you might find that rates are still slightly different for non-smokers.

If you want to take out a traditional life insurance policy over 50 then you’ll find that premiums are higher. This is simply because of the extra health risks at this age and the average life expectancy being lower.


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