Why does smoking affect life insurance?

Due to the well documented health risks associated with being a smoker it isn't surprising that they are viewed as a higher risk by insurers.

Am I a smoker?


Most insurers class smokers as anybody who has used tobacco in the last 12 months, not just those that smoke a pack or more a day. So even if you're the most occasional social smoker you could end up paying more.

What cover you'll need

Given the health risks attached to smoking a life insurance policy is all the more important, despite the added expense.

It may be tempting to cut costs by getting the cheapest life insurance for smokers you can, but if this doesn't provide sufficient cover to provide for your loved ones once you're gone, or cover health care should you fall ill, it'll be of little use. You'll need to consider a policy that'll cover the loss of income you provide, the mortgage, and any other debt you may have.

The value of these will make up the lump sum payment your family will receive in the event of your death.

There are several different types of life insurance to consider:

Decreasing term life insurance


If you expect your debts and outgoings to decrease over the years decreasing term cover could be a good choice. With this type of policy your cover will decrease proportionally during the term and is often used to cover mortgage or loan repayments.

Level term life insurance

If you are looking for a more comprehensive policy then level term life insurance will pay out a set sum for the duration of the policy. So a policy lasting 25 years with 250,000 of cover will pay out 250,000 should you die within the 25 year life of the policy. At the end of the policy your cover will end and you'll no longer be protected so it's important to get the right term for you.

Whole of life life insurance

If you want a policy that will pay out whenever you die, whole of life cover is the way to go. Provided you keep up with your payments this type of policy is guaranteed to pay at some point. For this reason they tend to be the most expensive option, especially if you're a smoker.

Critical illness cover will be offered on most policies and is worth considering as a smoker. Take a look at our guide How to Find the Best Critical Illness Cover for more information.

How to reduce your smoker life insurance

The best way to reduce the cost of your life insurance is to quit smoking.

Quitting can be a lot easier said than done, but don't be tempted to lie on your application and claim that you are a non-smoker. This could invalidate your policy should you need to make a claim and even constitute insurance fraud.

Some insurers carry out checks and look at your medical records or even ask for a urine or saliva sample, so the chances of being caught out are very real.

If you do quit, notify your insurer as it could mean a reduction in your premiums. Most insurers will only consider this if you have managed to stay nicotine free for 12 months or more, and they may also seek a report from your doctor for confirmation.

Don't be among the 51% of smokers who have kicked the habit and not informed their insurers, as you could end up paying a lot more than you need to!

Although you will almost certainly have to pay more than a non-smoker for life insurance, that doesn't mean there aren't deals out there that will provide you with the cover you need.

Compare life insurance quotes

Once you know what type of life insurance cover you need and you've considered what you can do to reduce your premiums, you can use our comparison to find the best quote for you. It is possible to find relatively cheap life insurance for smokers, but be sure to get several quotes so you know you're choosing the best one for you.