How much more do smokers pay for life insurance?

James Battiston
by James Battiston January 20, 2020 / No Comments

Smoking can be a tough habit to break. You’ve seen the public service announcements, you’ve read the warnings on the packs. If you’re looking for further motivation to quit, consider the fact that smokers pay more for life insurance…a lot more! Depending on age, smokers pay anywhere from 30% to 300% more in monthly life insurance premiums. That’s right, some companies charge three times as much to insure smokers. Add that up over the years and you’re looking at some substantial dollars spent on an already costly habit.

What The Costs Look Like

The difference in costs can sometimes be hard to visualize, so below is a table that provides rough comparisons of costs. These costs were calculated using a popular insurance companies free online calculator. The monthly premiums shown are based on the insured subject being male, with $100,000 of coverage, for a 10 year term life policy. Keep in mind, this chart is only provided as an example; a number of factors affect your term life insurance premiums, and costs vary from provider to provider. It’s recommended you compare term life insurance costs to see what different companies offer.

Age Non-Smoker Smoker
18 $12.09 $16.54
25 $12.09 $16.64
35 $12.82 $21.08
45 $20.18 $42.94
55 $40.98 $99.29
65 $114.26 $250.78

As you can see, the older you get, the greater the premiums you will be paying as a smoker.  While the difference starts off small enough, soon the premiums double, and the increase only gets bigger as you get older. 

Why do smokers pay more for life insurance?

The health risks associated with smoking are well documented, increasing the chances of lung disease, stroke, and numerous other medical conditions. For example, a male smoker is 23 times as likely to develop lung cancer than a non-smoker. Life insurance premiums are more expensive for people who are at higher risk of dying, so it’s no wonder insurance companies increase premiums if you smoke. Because you are viewed as a higher-risk demographic, insurance companies want to make sure that they’re hedging their bets.

Will my life insurance be cheaper if I quit smoking?

Firstly, congratulations for quitting, or at least for getting started! Unfortunately, your life insurance premiums may still be high for a little while. While you’ll eventually receive lower insurance rates, these new rates will take some time to come into effect. To be fully classified as a non-smoker, you need to be smoke-free for a period of 12 months. If you maintain your non-smoking lifestyle, you can anticipate your rates dropping further as time goes on – so hang in there! You’re already reaping the health benefits, and soon you’ll be reaping the insurance benefits as well.

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If I only smoke casually, am I still a smoker?

As far as your life insurance company is concerned, casual or occasional smoking is still smoking. When applying for life insurance, you’ll be asked if you’ve had a cigarette or smoked in the last 12 months. Even if you’ve smoked a single cigarette, this will count against your application. Because nicotine is addictive, insurance companies regard your having smoked a single cigarette as increasing your chances of becoming a regular smoker.\

What About Vaping?

So you’ve decided to quit smoking and take up vaping instead. Surely this has got to be a healthier life choice, one that will see your term life insurance premiums lower, right?

First, the contents of an e-cigarette varies from brand to brand, and some have been found to contain known carcinogens and other toxins. By vaping, you could be exposing your body to the same, if not worse, toxins than those you hoped to avoid by not smoking. While Health Canada has yet to regulate the vaping industry, they have issued advisories related to vaping and e-cigarettes.

Second, many life insurance providers view vaping the same as smoking. By exposing yourself potentially harmful chemicals, you’re putting yourself at the same risk as individuals who smoke cigarettes.  To the company, it doesn’t make a difference if you’re smoking a conventional cigarette or an e-cigarette: the risk to your life is the same, and therefore they will charge you more on your premiums.

Does smoking cannabis affect my insurance?

With Canada having legalized cannabis, the question of weed and life insurance premiums has come up. As with lots of factors in insurance, the answer varies with your provider. Many insurance providers have updated their policies concerning marijuana, and don’t view it as high-risk like tobacco smoking. That said, it can still impact your premiums, as smoking cannabis is not considered completely risk-free.

If you smoke or consume marijuana, and are wondering how it could impact your insurance premiums, your best bet is to consult your insurance provider, or compare term life insurance policies to see what different companies’ position on the matter is.

The bottom line

So does being a smoking mean your hopes of life insurance go up in smoke? Not neccessarily.

When you’re looking for a term life insurance policy, keep in mind that policies are highly individual. Insurance companies look at a number of factors when assessing the premiums you’re going to pay, and how companies approach certain traits varies. If you’relooking for a term life insurance policy, being a smoker won’t automatically make your premiums unaffordable. Compare policies to find one that suits your individual needs.

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