Does smoking affect my life insurance premiums?
Wondering what your life insurance options are if you’re a smoker? You’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know about coverage, premium cost and more.
by Gary Andrews
Last update 15 Sep 2021
As a smoker, it can be more expensive to take out life insurance policies as it is generally regarded as “high risk”.
The higher premiums can put off many smokers from making sure their loved ones, dependents or themselves are protected when they need it the most.
The higher premiums may not mean you can’t take out life insurance, and our specialists at Compare Club can help you find cover that fits your needs.
Almost all leading life insurance providers offer policies for smokers, but it’ll come at a higher cost.
If you’re a smoker that quits for more than 12 months, this can significantly reduce the price you pay on your life insurance.
The key to trying to find suitable cover is to be honest about your habits and inform the insurer if and when you decide to quit.
Smokers can apply for any type of cover that falls under the life insurance umbrella.
These can protect your loved ones or dependents against financial loss from not being able to work due to sickness and/or injury, critical illnesses, total and permanent disability, terminal illness and death.
If your provider asks you directly whether you smoke, you have a duty of disclosure and will be required to answer honestly.
If you’re only an occasional, social smoker, use vapes or any nicotine products you need to tell the insurer that too.
When you enter into a life insurance contract, your provider needs to determine the risk that they will take on based on your health and lifestyle habits.
Smoking is a big factor in this assessment.
If you lie to your insurer, this can negatively impact any claim you make down the track.
Generally, insurers use a range of tools such as medical tests, autopsy reports, Medicare records and the history of claims under your Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to verify any health conditions.
This information may be used to figure out if you were a smoker during the life of your policy.
Many insurers also have teams of researchers and analysts, often with medical training, to catch customers out if they’re lying.
And if you get caught out, the claim amount may be reduced or cancelled altogether, impacting your loved ones during a significantly emotional time for them.
Yes, you can, depending on some additional disclosures.
By not having a cigarette, using any nicotine product or vapes for 12 months or more, you are generally able to apply for non-smoker rates which means you may be assessed for lower premiums from your life insurer.
You’re generally considered an ex-smoker or a non-smoker when you haven’t smoked or used nicotine in the last 12 months.
Anything less than that usually isn’t valid to a life insurer.
Unfortunately for smokers, most providers typically don’t differentiate between once in a while smokers and the pack-a-day variety.
That said, each insurer has different criteria for assessing your smoking status.
Our Life Insurance Comparison specialists may be able to help you get some clarity on your options.
Most insurers classify smoking as the use of any and all nicotine products, including cigarettes, cigars, tobacco chewing and nicotine patches.
These vary between providers.
Many insurers continue to impose smoker premiums on e-cigarette users, whether there is nicotine in the product or not.
As a smoker, you’re likely to pay a higher premium than a non-smoker.
Keep that in mind when talking to our Compare Club specialists who compare across ten insurers and can help you find the most affordable coverage for you and your loved ones.
If you’re wondering how to get affordable life insurance rates, don’t be afraid to shop around.
Our specialists can help compare your options and help you with the application process for you.COMPARE & SAVE
This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.
*Premiums referred to in this article should be taken as a guide only and are not guaranteed. They are based on quotes created on or around 16 November 2021 for a 45 year old, NSW based, male office worker, smoker and non-smoker, seeking $500,000 of life insurance cover. Premiums are subject to change and depend on personal circumstances.