When applying for life insurance, there are several areas of your lifestyle that you have to clarify, some of which include several areas of your past habits and conditions. If you have given up smoking (well done!), you will still need to declare to a life insurance provider that you used to smoke, how many years you smoked for and how many cigarettes a day/to what level e.g. social, daily, that you used to smoke. One thing is for sure, once you quit smoking the only way is up in terms of your health and down in terms of your life insurance premium.
Many life insurance companies will require that you complete a medical exam prior to assuming a policy so there really is no point in hiding a previous smoking habit. In fact, even if you don’t complete a medical exam and later die, even on an unrelated disease to smoking, your policy could be declared null and void if the company can prove that you did not disclose your smoking habit.
Who do life insurance companies classify as a smoker?
The people that life insurance companies classify as smokers can vary from company to company. In general, if you have smoked in the last 12 months, you will still be classified as a “smoker” in the eyes of a life insurance company. If you smoke e-cigarettes, chew tobacco, smoke cigars or use nicotine replacement gum or patches, or have done in the last 12 months, you will usually still be considered a smoker in the eyes of most life insurance companies too.
After 12 months of being smoke free, a life insurance company will consider you an ex-smoker and the longer you remain an ex-smoker, the lower your premium, especially if you quit at a young age. Why? The average life expectancy of a smoker is usually at least 10 years shorter than someone who does not smoke. Smoking can virtually triple a person’s chance of dying from heart disease or cancers. However, if you quit before the age of 40, you could reduce the risk of dying from smoking related diseases by 90%.
Risk classes for non-smokers
For non-smokers, their former habit is not the only thing that gets taken into consideration when calculating a life insurance premium. Why? Because life insurance companies tend to divide non-smokers into various “risk classes” when devising premiums.
- Preferred best: This refers to a non-smoker who is in excellent health with no family history of health issues and who does not participate in activities or occupations that are considered high-risk.
- Preferred: A non-smoker in very good health with only a few minor health issues or concerns.
- Standard: A non-smoker in good health but who may be overweight or have a family history of health issues, hence increasing their risk of dying.
- Sub-standard: A non-smoker in poor health with one or more chronic illnesses/diseases or who participates in dangerous activities.
We hope this guide helps you to understand what is involved in getting life insurance as a non-smoker. As always, it pays to shop around and if you’re currently insured, be sure to inform your life insurance policy provider that you’ve quit smoking as doing so could do your pocket some favours!