Life insurance for smokers

Although cigarette smoking is on the decline, with people quitting or switching to less harmful alternatives like vaping, there are still many smokers in the UK.

If you’re a smoker, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get life insurance to protect your loved ones. But it may be more expensive.

This guide will explain more about smoking and life insurance.

  • Life insurance may still be an option for smokers, but will usually cost more than the equivalent cover for a non-smoker.

    When you apply for life cover, your insurer will ask questions about your health and lifestyle. It’s important to be honest, both to make sure you get the cover you need, and to prevent your policy being invalidated later.

    Of course, smoking presents several health risks. For example, the NHS cites that 70% of lung cancer cases are linked to smoking*.

    Scottish Widows – who are also part of Lloyds Banking Group – arrange our life insurance policies. They are our life insurance experts, helping to protect what matters most for over 200 years. To get a new policy, you need to be a UK resident aged 18 to 59. Cover can be provided up to the age of 69.

    It’s worth remembering that life insurance products have no cash in value at any time. If no valid claim is made by the end of the policy term, it will end, and you’ll get nothing back. If you don’t pay your premiums on time your cover will stop, your policy will end, and you’ll get nothing back.

    *Source:, September 2023.

    Explore the different types of life insurance.

  • Smoking can increase the chances of you developing life limiting health conditions, including cancers and heart disease. Because of this, there’s more risk associated with insuring a smoker.

    Life insurance premiums for smokers can be affected by:

    • How long you have smoked for – the amount and how long you’ve smoked may increase your risk of developing a smoking-related illness.
    • What form of smoking it is – some insurers may group e-cigarettes and vapes in the same category as traditional cigarettes and cigars.
    • Health conditions and history – if you’ve experienced poor health or had treatment for a condition linked to smoking.
    • Background information – this may include age, lifestyle and family history of life limiting health conditions.

    Why is smoking considered a health risk?

    Smoking causes over a quarter of all cancer deaths in the UK, and tobacco is related to a fifth of deaths from all causes*. Cigarette smoke releases over 5,000 different chemicals that cause damage to the body. This can lead to several health conditions, including at least 15 forms of cancer – the most common being lung and bowel cancer.

    Other health conditions caused by smoking include:

    • Strokes.
    • Heart attacks.
    • Damaged arteries.
    • Damaged blood vessels.
    • Coronary heart disease.
    • Pneumonia.
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

    It’s because of these conditions, and the extensive research into the effects of smoking, that life insurance premiums might be higher for people who smoke.

    *Source:, September 2023.

  • With so many different tobacco and nicotine products available, it can be difficult to know what counts as smoking. Although e-cigarettes and vapes may not be as harmful as traditional cigarette smoke, they’re still not considered safe – at least compared with being a non-smoker.

    Even if smoke isn’t present, like the use of vapes, any products that contain nicotine may be considered as smoking by an insurer. That could include:

    • Cigarettes and roll-ups.
    • Cigars.
    • Pipes.
    • E-cigarettes and vapes.
    • Nicotine patches and gum.

    Does it matter how much I smoke?

    Whether you’re a regular cigarette smoker or occasionally use a vape, some insurers may still class you as a smoker. This means the cost of your life insurance premiums could still be higher than someone who never uses nicotine products.

    It’s important to be honest with your insurer when you apply for life insurance. That will help you to get the cover you need, and avoid your policy being invalidated or a claim being rejected when it matters most.

  • Yes, you should be 100% honest with your insurer when you apply for cover. Not giving accurate information could lead to your policy being invalidated, or your loved ones’ future claim being rejected.

    Being forthcoming about your lifestyle will mean the people important to you can get the financial support you intended if you were to pass away unexpectedly.

    I quit smoking in the past, do I still need to tell my insurer?

    When taking out life insurance, ex-smokers may not need to disclose that they have smoked in the past. Some insurers may have a set period, after which you’re no longer classed as a smoker.

    If this applies to you, then you may not have to disclose that you’ve smoked. As a result, you may benefit from a lower premium.

    Some insurers might use a sliding scale, with gradually less impact on the cost of life insurance depending on how long it is since you last smoked.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

  • Smokers will often pay more for life insurance than non-smokers, but the exact amount will vary. This will depend on factors including your age, health and lifestyle.

  • No, your premiums are based on the information you give at the time of taking out your policy. However, if you later start smoking and then decide to take out additional cover, you will need to let the insurer know about this change to your lifestyle. If you fail to do that, your policy could be invalidated, or future claims made by your loved ones in the event of your death may be rejected.

  • While life insurance for smokers might cost more, because of the health risks it may be all the more reassuring to have cover in place. If you were to die unexpectedly, your loved ones could claim a financial payout, helping them to manage future expenses without you. That may include mortgage repayments, childcare and education costs, or just helping them to live more comfortably.

  • No. Your policy and premiums reflect your health and lifestyle at the time of taking out the cover. If you then stop smoking, it may be worth considering a new quote based on your current lifestyle. Bear in mind that some insurers may ask for a minimum period of time before you can be classed as a non-smoker.

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