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How do smoking and vaping affect life insurance?

How do smoking and vaping affect life insurance?

It’s no surprise that insurance providers view smokers as high-risk. Our clear guide will explain the difference between smoking and vaping when it comes to life insurance. 

Kamran Altaf
From the Life team
3
minute read
posted 27 JANUARY 2020

How often do I need to smoke to be classified as a smoker?

If you’ve consumed any tobacco products on a regular basis in the past year (including nicotine replacement products), then you’re classed as a smoker. So as far as an insurance provider is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether you smoke a packet a day or have five vapes on an e-cigarette. You’re still a smoker.

Today, less than 1 in 6 of the adult population in the UK smokes – but figures from the NHS suggest that hospital admissions attributable to smoking are in fact on the increase and so it’s easy to see why a provider still sees those who smoke as being a higher risk when they’re working out a premium. 

How does smoking affect my life insurance premium?

Regardless of your age or whether you’ve been a long-term smoker, being classed as a smoker will make a big difference to your premium. It’s estimated that for a 30 year-old, premiums will be around a third higher, while for a 50 year-old it could be up to double the cost of the same aged non-smokers.

What if I don’t tell an insurance provider that I smoke?

Not informing your insurance provider that you smoke is classed as ‘material misrepresentation.’ If you were to die and it was found that you were a smoker, the insurance provider may well refuse to pay out on a life insurance claim. In that situation, your best case scenario would be that an insurance provider would pay a smaller amount; but there’s a very real risk that your beneficiaries will be completely turned down for a claim.

Is vaping any better than smoking? 

From an insurance point of view, not really. You could still invalidate your policy if you tick the ‘non-smoker’ box on your life insurance policy and it turns out you’ve been vaping. Off the back of a 2015 report by Public Health England, which suggested e-cigarette smoking was 95% less harmful than the traditional use of tobacco, there have been less positive reports – including that e-cigarettes could contribute to an increased risk of long-term ailments including cancer and heart disease.

In the eyes of an insurance provider, nicotine is nicotine and it really doesn’t matter where it comes from, it’s still bad for you. That said, not all insurance providers take a dim view of vapers (a vape liquid which contains no nicotine may be different, for example) so whether you already have a policy or are looking for one - check the terms of each individual quote with care. For most life insurance providers to consider you a true ‘non-smoker’, you need to be nicotine free for at least 12 months.

I’ve quit smoking, will this affect my life insurance? 

Quitting smoking, as well as making you healthier, can reduce the cost of life insurance premiums. However, you won’t be able to amend smoking terms mid-way through your policy, which means you’ll need to take out a new policy instead. You will have to have been off all nicotine products for a minimum of 12 months, before you qualify for any cheaper rates.  

When should I tell my insurance provider I have given up smoking? 

Usually, insurance providers will require you to have quit smoking for 12 months before they’ll class you as a non-smoker, but it’s best to check with your provider. Once you’ve informed them of your new status, you may be required to take part in a medical exam, which includes a blood test, before you can take out a non-smoking policy. 

Should I tell my insurance provider I have switched to e-cigarettes? 

Most insurance providers still class e-cigarette users as smokers, because they are still nicotine products. However, if you’re using a vape liquid that contains no nicotine, your provider may have different rules. It’s important to check the terms of your policy to find out if it could affect your premiums.  

How will my life insurance provider know if I am a smoker? 

When applying for life insurance cover, you may be asked to take a medical exam. This will test for a variety of things, but they will also be able to test your blood for nicotine. Your insurance provider may also consult with you GP regarding your medical records, which may identify you as a smoker. 
 
Ultimately, if you lie on your policy application about being a non-smoker, your policy may be void upon your death. 

What happens if you start smoking after you get life insurance? 

You should tell your insurance provider, as your policy is based on the information you provide at the time of the application. If you begin smoking and then died, it may affect your policy. Surprisingly though, many insurance providers will still pay out upon death. It’s always best to check your policy carefully. 

Where can I get a quote for life insurance as a smoker? 

Life insurance isn’t a one size fits all and there are different types to consider – whether you’re a smoker or not. So, you should be able to find a policy that suits your lifestyle and meets the needs of you and your loved ones.
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