Best life insurance for a heavy smoker

5 min Read Published: 25 Jan 2022

Best life insurance for a heavy smokerIn this article we look at the impact that smoking has on life insurance premiums as well as which life insurance providers offer the cheapest premiums for smokers. We also explain how you can get up to £100 cashback when you buy a life insurance policy.

Can I get life insurance if I smoke?

Yes, you should be able to buy life insurance if you are a smoker. The cost of life insurance depends on a number of factors including the amount of cover you need, your age and of course your health. As a smoker, you will be expected to pay a higher premium than someone who doesn't smoke, however, the amount you will pay will vary from insurer to insurer.

Why does smoking affect life insurance premiums?

Life insurance premiums are set by a team of actuaries whose job is to calculate risk. Life insurance premiums are priced based on the probability of death occurring during the term of the policy and statistics would prove that as a smoker, you have a higher probability of dying when compared to someone who doesn't smoke. Health risks that are associated with smoking are not just limited to mouth and lung cancer, smoking contributes significantly to other diseases such as heart attack, stroke and pneumonia to name just a few. To put it bluntly, an insurance company would expect you to die earlier than someone who doesn't smoke and so the premium will reflect the additional risk.

Who is defined as a smoker?

Most insurers define a smoker as anyone who has used tobacco products, nicotine replacement products (including gum) or e-cigarettes in the last 12 months. So, even if you have only had the odd cigarette when meeting up with old friends then you are still considered a smoker as far as a life insurance provider is concerned.

Do I need to disclose that I smoke?

Yes. Remember, the reason anyone takes out life insurance is the peace of mind that should they die, their family will be looked after financially. If you are found to have lied on your application (commonly referred to as 'non-disclosure') then the insurance company can reject your claim and so it isn't worth the risk.

What if I am a social smoker?

The definition is fairly clear when it comes to smoking; if you have used any tobacco products in the last 12 months, including nicotine replacement products and e-cigarettes then you are a smoker in the eyes of the insurer and so should answer yes to the question relating to smoking.

What if I start smoking after taking out a policy?

A life insurance application is assessed based on your age and health at the time of the application and so strictly speaking, there is nothing stopping you from taking up smoking after you have taken out a life insurance policy. Be warned however as insurance companies can (and do) investigate insurance claims and so if they suspect that you had lied about smoking on your application form, they can still refuse to pay out a claim.

Will I have to take a medical?

Insurance companies may ask you to take a cotinine test, which is a saliva swab test that checks for nicotine in your system. The most common reasons for being asked to take a cotinine test is if you have indicated that you have given up smoking or perhaps if you are applying for a large amount of cover. A nurse will usually travel to your home or work and complete the test (plus any additional tests if required) and it is paid for by the insurance company.

Life insurance for smokers vs life insurance for non-smokers comparison

Roughly speaking, the premium you pay as a smoker will be roughly double that of a non-smoker. We have provided a simple table below that displays the difference in premium for £250,000 life insurance for a 25, 35, 45 and 55-year-old.

Age Cover Term Non-Smoker Premium
Smoker Premium
25 £250,000 25 Years £5.17 £8.60
35 £250,000 25 Years £8.55 £18.70
45 £250,000 25 Years £19.35 £46.09
55 £250,000 25 Years £74.03 £174.85

How much does life insurance for smokers cost?

The cost of life insurance, if you are a smoker, will vary depending on a number of factors including your age, the amount of cover you need as well as any additional health factors that need to be taken into consideration. We have written an extensive guide to the cheapest insurance companies for smokers which goes into more detail. If you are a particularly heavy smoker, then an insurance company may decide to add an additional increase to your premiums, often referred to as a 'rating' or 'loading'. We explain more about heavy smoking below as well as how to get the best deal.

What if I am a heavy smoker?

Firstly, you should always be honest. If you are a heavy smoker, you should give the insurance company an accurate estimate of your daily tobacco consumption. While some insurance companies may decide to increase the originally quoted premium (on account of the higher consumption of tobacco), not all companies will and so you should shop around to see which life insurance company is best for your own personal situation.

Speaking to a number of different insurance companies can be a time-consuming process and so it is often better to speak to an independent life insurance specialist such as LifeSearch*. One of their expert advisers will be able to do all of the hard work for you, speaking to every insurance company on your behalf to ensure you are getting the best and cheapest life insurance quote. Additionally, if you take out a policy with them, you could qualify for up to £100 cashback. Simply fill in this short form* to receive a callback at a time that suits you.

Vaping vs Smoking

Vaping is a popular choice for those that are trying to quit tobacco products, but the dangers and long term effects are relatively unknown. Most medical professionals are happy to admit that vaping poses less risk than smoking but the lack of knowledge is a cause for concern within the insurance industry.

Some life insurance companies tend to treat vaping the same as they do smoking (and so the premiums will be the same as someone who smokes cigarettes). Some life insurance companies ask whether the e-cigarettes you use contain nicotine, and if they don't you will either be treated as a non-smoker or receive a smaller increase than if you smoked.

The landscape is constantly changing and so you should seek advice from an independent life insurance specialist* who will be able to assess your own personal situation and put you in touch with the best insurance company for your own specific personal needs. For more information on life insurance if you vape or smoke, check out our article 'How to get the cheapest life insurance if you smoke or vape'

What if I quit smoking in the future, would my premiums reduce?

If you quit smoking and have gone longer than 12 months without any tobacco or nicotine replacement products then you could qualify as a non-smoker and so you should consider re-applying for life cover as you may be able to save money on your monthly premiums. A word of warning, however; any new quote will be based on your age and health at the time and so if you are significantly older or if you have had any other health conditions, you may find that the new premiums are actually more expensive. Never cancel your existing cover until you are absolutely sure that the new cover is in place (and that it is cheaper). Specialist life insurance broker LifeSearch* will be happy to review your current policy and ascertain whether a new policy would be cheaper. Additionally, if you take out a policy, you would qualify for up to £100 cashback.


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following links can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to take advantage of the cashback referred to in the article - LifeSearch