Smoking and Life Insurance

If you are a smoker you can potentially save thousands off your life insurance premiums as well as gaining significant health benefits by quitting smoking.

However if you have no desire to quit we can help find you cover that is affordable to you by comparing 10 of the leading insurers and we can help you review your policy if your smoking situation has changed after 12 months.

Insurance definition of smokers – who is classified as being a smoker?

Many insurance companies will classify you as a smoker if you:

  • Have smoked 1 or more cigarettes in the past 12 months.
  • Are taking nicotine replacement products such as Champix, Nicabate (including patches and gum) within 12 months of quitting smoking.
  • Smoke e-cigarettes

Compare Life Insurance Quotes

Free Online Comparison Free Online Comparison
Lowest Price Guarantee Lowest Price Guarantee*
No Hidden Fees No Hidden Fees
Calculating your quotes

Smokers life insurance rates – how much will I pay?

People who smoke may pay 50-100% more for their life insurance premiums compared to non-smokers.

Smoking StatusAgeType of CoverLevel of CoverCost per month
Non-Smoker30Life Insurance$1 million$77.11*
Smoker30Life Insurance$1 million$161.50*
Smoking StatusAgeType of CoverLevel of CoverCost per month
Non-Smoker30Income Protection$6,250/month$78.93
Smoker30Income Protection$6,250/month$96.79
Smoking StatusAgeType of CoverLevel of CoverCost per month
Non-Smoker30Trauma Insurance$250,000$84.37
Smoker30Trauma Insurance$250,000$200.46
Smoking StatusAgeType of CoverLevel of CoverCost per month
Non-Smoker30TPD - Any Occupation$1 million$67.66
Smoker30TPD - Any Occupation$1 million$125.54

*Please note while premiums are based on real quotes, they are examples only and may not reflect actual cover available. Please speak to one of our financial advisers for a more accurate quote.

How you can reduce the cost of your cover

If you are a smoker, there may be a number of things you can do to help make your insurance more affordable:

  1. Quit smoking for 12 months and be off nicotine replacement products
  2. Take out cover through super
  3. Change your premium style
  4. Reduce your level of cover
  5. Take out a combined policy
  6. For income protection, reduce your benefit period and increase your waiting period
  7. Remove automatic CPI increases
  8. If on stepped premiums you can elect to freeze your premiums
  9. Remove any unnecessary policy options

How do insurers assess smoking?

Smoking can come in a variety of forms: Cigarettes: As suggested above, if you have smoked 1 cigarette in the past 12 months you will generally be classified as a smoker. For insurers it will come down to regularity and if there is a pattern or consistency of smoking for example once a week or once a month you will generally be classified as a smoker.By smoking, you are not only consuming the toxins from cigarettes but you are also increasing your risk of becoming a more regular smoker. However this may be assessed on a case by case basis.

E-cigarettes:

If you smoke e-cigarettes you are still classified as a smoker, as an insurance company views e-cigarettes as similar to cigarettes and your chances of picking up smoking again are increased.

Cigars:

You may be able to smoke 1-3 cigars per year without incurring smoker’s rates. This is because cigars are viewed as ‘celebratory’ occurrences and not regular occurrences. However please note this will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Nicotine replacement products (NRP):

Any use of nicotine replacement products such as gum, patches, lozenges or mouth spray you will be classified as a smoker until you have been off the NRP for at least 12 months. This is because there is a higher likelihood you will go back to smoking if you are still using these products.

Health risks of smoking

Cigarettes contain over 4000[2] chemicals which can be a danger to your health:TarTar is generated from burning tobacco and is a part of cigarette smoke. It contains a number of substances, including nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide as well as a number of organic substances. Tar is the main cause of lung and throat cancer in smokers.

Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the blood and can be fatal in large doses. Higher amounts of carbon monoxide in the blood means that less oxygen reaches the brain, heart, muscles and other organs.

Hydrogen Cyanide prevents the lungs from clearing foreign substances out, allowing poisonous substances to build up in the lungs.

Nicotine is the substance in cigarettes which causes addiction. It releases dopamine and can cause changes to the structure of the brain as well as raising heart rate, blood pressure, releasing hormones that affect the central nervous system and constricting blood vessels. It is also believed to cause gastrointestinal disorders, issues with pregnancy and may be linked to the development of cancer.

Together, these substances pose a significant risk to smokers and non-smokers alike through second hand smoke, putting smokers at an increased risk of developing a number of serious illnesses and diseases:

  • Cancer including lung, tongue, lungs, mouth, nose, throat, oesophagus, pancreas, kidney, liver, bladder, bowel, ovary, cervix, bone marrow, and stomach.
  • Lung disease such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis

Stroke: Smoking can narrow the arteries to your brain which can lead to a blockage and a stroke. A stroke can cause paralysis, difficulty speaking and death.

Heart: Smoking narrows the blood vessels which can cause blocked arteries leading to a heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and more.

Cancer: Smoking has been known to cause lung, tongue, mouth, nose, throat, oesophagus, pancreas, kidney, liver, bladder, bowel, ovary, cervix, bone marrow, and stomach cancer.

Lung diseases including lung cancer was the 4th[3] leading cause of death in 2012, accounting for over 8,000 deaths in Australia. Colon, sigmoid, rectal, prostate, blood and lymph cancers, prostate cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and skin cancer all feature in the top 20 leading causes of death.

Lung Cancer: 9 out of 10 lung cancers are believed to be caused by smoking

Emphysema: Smoking can cause damage to the sacs in the lungs, which can lead to emphysema, a condition marked by a shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. A smoker is five times more likely to develop emphysema compared to a non-smoker.

Macular degeneration: Smoking can cause damage to the rear of the eye, a condition known as macular degeneration which can lead to vision loss and blindness. Smokers are four times more likely to develop age related macular degeneration and can develop it up to 10 times earlier than non-smokers.

Leading causes of death in 2012[4]

Rank Cause of Death Number of Deaths in 2012
1 Ischemic heart disease 20046
2 Cerebrovascular Disease 10779
3 Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease 10369
4 Trachea, bronchus and lung cancer 8137
5 Chronic lower respiratory disease 6649
6 Diabetes 4239
7 Colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus cancer 4051
8 Blood and lymph cancer 4001
9 Diseases of the urinary system 3,711
10 Heart Failure 3489
11 Prostate Cancer 3079
12 Breast Cancer 2819
13 Influenza and Pneumonia 2719
14 Intentional Self Harm 2535
15 Pancreatic Cancer 2524
16 Skin cancers 2036
17 Accidental falls 1997
18 Hypertensive diseases 1858
19 Cardiac arrhythmias 1720
20 Cirrhosis and other diseases of liver 1547

Why does smoking affect the cost of insurance?

Smoking affects the cost of insurance due to the increased health risks associated with smoking. Life insurance companies need to take any risk into account when putting in place premium costs and when deciding when to offer someone cover.Essentially, if you smoke, you have an increased risk of developing a serious illness which could result in you being unable to work, as well as increases your risk of dying.

Nicotine replacement products

Nicotine replacement products include patches, gum, lozenges, inhalators and mouth spray. They are designed to provide you with your nicotine cravings (the addictive substance in cigarettes) without the harmful chemicals found in tobacco products.Nicotine patches: Worn on the skin, patches allow the skin to absorb nicotine continuously while they are being worn. They generally come in three sizes – 15mg, 25mg or a 21mg patch designed to be work for 24 hours.Gums, Spray, Lozenges: These are designed to be chewed, sucked and sprayed into the mouth, releasing nicotine, allowing it to be absorbed into the lining of the mouth.

You can also use a combination of these products however you should consult with your doctor or seek help from a Quit Smoking service such as Quit.org.au or quitnow.gov.au.

Types of Tobacco Products

Cigarettes:

smoking-cigarette

A cigarette is a thin cylinder of finely cut tobacco which is ignited at the end of the cylinder and smoked.

Cigar:

cigar

A cigar is a cylinder of tobacco rolled in tobacco leaves for smoking.

Cigar vs. Cigarette:

Cigars typically are larger than cigarettes, containing as much as 10 to 20[6] times more nicotine and may contain as much tobacco as a pack of cigarettes. They take longer to smoke than cigarettes and unlike cigarettes don’t contain any filters.

E-Cigarettes

E-cigarettes are battery powered devices which has a refillable cartridge with liquid containing nicotine, which may also be flavoured. The liquid is converted into vapour and is absorbed into the blood stream when smoked.While still new to the Australian market, research has show that people are using e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking as they provide nicotine but not tobacco.However health authorities have expressed concerns with e-cigarettes, with not enough research having been conducted to conclude if they do help with quitting smoking.
e-cig
Furthermore, nicotine is still highly addictive and can have harmful affects on developing foetuses in pregnancy women, while a number of other particles similar to those found in tobacco smoke, are still found in e-cigarette vapour.

While the number of toxins are lower, the short and long term health affects of exposure to e-cigarette vapour is not known.

Tobacco in Australia

Tobacco companies are not required to report cigarette sales to the government and the majority of information is provided through market research reports.It is believed tobacco made up approximately 39% of sales to Australian retail convenience outlets in 2009 compared with milk at 7.9%, ‘ready to drink’ products at 19% and confectionary at 8.6%. However it is believedtobacco sales were the lowest ever recorded in the March 2014 quarter at $3.405 billion, compared to $3.508 billion in December 2012.

Benefits of quitting smoking[1]

Generally your smoking status may be reviewable up to 12 months after you have quit smoking. This means you may be able go back to standard rates which means more affordable premiums. However please note if you have quit due to medical advice you may not be eligible for standard rates.Other health benefits of quitting smoking include:

  • Reduces your risk of lung cancer
  • Reduces your risk of stroke
  • Reduces your risk of heart attack
  • Slower hear rate and reduced blood pressure
  • Oxygen can more easily reach your heart and muscles
  • Improvements in sense of taste and smell
  • Less coughing and wheezing
  • Improved immune system increases your chance of fighting off infections
  • Reduces risk of cervical cancer in women

The cost of smoking

A pack a day smoker, paying on average $16[5] per pack of cigarette, will pay over $5840 per year on cigarettes or over $87,000 over 15 years.In addition to the individual cost of smoking is the overall social and economic cost of smoking including its impact on the health system. This has been estimated at costing the Australian economy tens of billions of dollars every year.

How we can help

We compare 12 of the leading life insurance companies in Australia and work very closely with them to find our clients affordable cover.Our dedicated staff and expert advisers will help guide you through the comparison process, providing you with quotes from each of the insurers we compare.We will then work closely with you throughout the application and underwriting process so your cover can be put in place as quickly and easily as possible.

Maximum Smoking Limits

Insurers will generally have a limit to the number of cigarettes you can smoke per day before you may incur a premium loading above the normal smoking rates.These limits may range from 25 – 40 cigarettes per day depending on the insurer. You may incur a loading of up to 50% on top of your smoker rate

If you are a smoker and would like to get a quote on life insurance, please contact us today on 1300 135 205.

Sources:
[1] http://www.quit.org.au/reasons-to-quit/health-benefits-of-quitting
[2] http://www.quit.org.au/
[3] http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/Lookup/3303.0main+features100012012
[4] http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/Lookup/3303.0main+features100012012
[5] http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/
[6] http://www.diffen.com/difference/Cigar_vs_Cigarette

Published: July 25, 2017

Ask an Expert?

Share This