Many do not perceive smoking as a very harmful habit as compared to drug and alcohol abuse, but in reality, it is one of the leading causes of death in the UK and worldwide. According to a 2009 research, about 21% of adults in the UK are smoking, with about 104,000 reported deaths due to diseases related to smoking.
Smoking and Premiums
Obviously, smoking does increase your risk for getting diseases and dying, which is why when shopping for life insurance, you can expect to get higher premiums than of those who do not smoke. Smoking is associated with a number of major diseases such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, and other heart conditions. Additionally, if your life insurance cover comes with a terminal illness benefit, you increase the chances of acquiring one of the illnesses in the package, thus giving way to the rise of premiums.
Age, as we all know, is also one of the major factors that affect the cost of premiums. The older a person is during the time of the insurance purchase, the higher the premiums will be, again due to the risk of dying. On the same note, a 50-year old smoker will have to suffer higher rates of premium increase than a 30-year old smoker as compared to non-smoking buyers in the same age groups.
Most insurance providers categorise smokers into five groups based on the type of product they use:
- Smoke pipes
- Nicotine patches
Even though people who use nicotine patches are trying to quit smoking, insurance providers still consider them as smokers because of the exposure and addiction to nicotine. Unfortunately for occasional smokers, the policy only inquires if you have smoked within the last 12 months, so you typically won’t be considered any less of a risk than someone who smokes two packs a day.
Lying on Your Application
The surge in premiums can make it quite tempting to lie on your insurance application regarding your smoking habits, but we strongly advise you against it. Insurance providers conduct medical history checks very carefully, and if you’ve been found to be lying during the underwriting process, you may be charged with much higher claims. If your lie has been found out after the contract has been signed, the amount of your death benefit may be reduced or you may have to pay the premium difference between a smoker and non-smoker. Lastly, if your lie has been found out after your death, there goes the bigger problem. While your beneficiaries may still be able to make a claim if you died in an accident, the insurance provider can reduce the claim amount or reject it altogether if you died because of smoking-related illness.
Meanwhile, while it is unlikely that you start smoking at a later age, the insurance provider has no right to deny a claim if you only started smoking after a policy has been signed.
Abstinence for 12 Months
A much better alternative to lying is abstaining from smoking for at least 12 months before applying for life insurance. Chest X-rays, urine tests, and other exams may be carried out to be sure that you haven’t smoked within that period. It is very important to be honest during your application because these providers take the underwriting process very seriously.