For insurance companies, deciding how much to charge any given individual for life cover is all about calculating the level of risk involved in insuring them. Insurance companies assess this risk by taking medical histories and collecting information about lifestyles, physical health and other factors. Looking after your health, therefore, is one of the best ways of reducing the cost of life cover-and the smoking habit is one of the single biggest lifestyle factors that drive the cost of insurance up.
The Higher Cost of Life Insurance
The average smoker will pay at least 40% more for life cover than they would if they were a non-smoker. Some insurance companies are more forgiving than others, but depending on the company you choose, you could pay up to 55% more for your life insurance. Being a smoker affects all forms of life and health based insurance, including critical illness cover and income protection.
Quitting cigarettes can amount to huge savings on your life insurance premiums. For example, a 35 year old male smoker with a policy benefit of £100,000 might pay £19 per month for the cover, whereas a non-smoker might pay only £10. Over twenty years, the non-smoker pays £2,400 for their life cover, while the smoker pays £4560 – that’s an extra £2160 over twenty years. That may not seem like much, but when you consider that the average British smoker spends £1,500 a year on cigarettes, quitting smoking for any reason adds up to sizable savings and lower insurance premiums are the icing on the cake.
Getting your Premiums Reduced
If you’re currently a smoker paying these astronomical prices for life cover, you can still reduce your premiums to a more affordable level. Most life insurance companies require that a smoker who has recently quit must remain a non-smoker for a full year before requesting an evaluation of their premium to take their new non-smoking status into account.
Don’t think you can fool your insurance company into thinking you’re a non-smoker when you haven’t given up, however. Ex-smokers who want to switch to a non-smoking premium rate will have to fill out a new application form, go through another medical exam, and relate their recent medical history as well. Your insurer may even request that you take a cotanine test to prove your non-smoking status. Any false information invalidates the policy, and as with all types of insurance, absolute honesty is the only way to go.
Take the Opportunity to Shop Around
Remember that if you decide to have your status as a non-smoker evaluated to reduce the premiums on your current policy, this will be a good time to shop around and see if you can find an even better policy elsewhere. The best savings might not even be with your current insurance provider, and you might be able to save even more money by checking out your options.
Interestingly enough, kicking a smoking habit can even save you money on your home insurance. With more than half of home fire claims attributable to cigarette-related causes, non-smokers can save on home insurance premiums, too.