Should I tell my life insurance company that I smoke?
Yes – a policy will cost you more as a smoker, but if you don't declare, you risk voiding your cover. This means the insurer would refuse to pay out if you or your beneficiaries make a claim.
How could an insurance company know if I smoked?
In the event of a claim on a life policy, the insurer will assess the policyholder's claim eligibility and verify the accuracy of the details provided in the application.
There are a few different ways an insurer can find out if you smoke:
- It can undertake medical tests to verify if you're a smoker in the event of a claim.
- It can run a verification process that can involve reviewing your Medicare and PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) records.
- It can contact the GP you had at the time of your application for more details.
If a policyholder has hidden the fact that they smoke, the insurance provider is entitled to refuse, or at best pay a smaller amount on, any claim made. This could come about, for example, if a coroner's report states that your death was linked to a smoking-related illness.
Your duty of disclosure when applying for life insurance
Regardless of the type of insurance being applied for, each applicant is required to answer each question in their application as truthfully as possible.
Under the Insurance Contracts Act of 1984, before entering into the insurance contract, applicants have a duty to disclose every matter that is known to be relevant to the decision of whether the company will accept the potential risk that they carry.
What questions will the insurer ask? Questions relating to your health, including your history of smoking. It's crucial that you answer these questions accurately so that the policy you're offered is valid.
So, you must admit to smoking, even if you do so only from time to time. In this context, smoking is defined as anything that contains nicotine such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, vapes, e-cigarettes and patches.
Can I get an adjustment of my life insurance premium if I quit smoking?
Most life insurance providers will treat applicants as non-smokers if they have quit smoking 12 months before the application has been submitted. You could be asked to take a medical exam. This may involve a blood test for nicotine.
If you initially took out life insurance as a smoker and became a non-smoker further into your policy, it might be possible to have your premium adjusted to reflect a non-smoker status. An underwriter may investigate reasons for you stopping. For example, you may have been told to quit on medical advice after developing a smoking-related condition. If so, you may be required to provide medical evidence to the insurer.
Check your superfund for cover – another option for smokers
If your super fund offers life insurance, there's a good chance you're covered as a group (not as an individual). This means you may already have cover without smoking status being a factor. But keep in mind that holding insurance within your super does generally offer less generous benefits overall.
You may want to speak with a representative from your super fund to see what the rules are around life insurance when starting a new job or increasing the amount you are covered for.
How do life insurance rates compare for smokers and non-smokers?
Life insurance applicants that smoke can expect to pay hundreds of dollars more in life insurance premiums compared to those that don't smoke.
Non-smoker vs smoker
|Ages||30, 40, 50, 60||30, 40, 50, 60|
|Occupation||Accountant (Qualified)||Accountant (Qualified)|
|Premium per year||$1,645.93||$2,967.38|
Quotes taken from research for the 2022 Finder Awards, the methodology of which can be read here. The prices above show the average cost for quotes with Medibank across 4 age groups. Prices are indicative – what you pay will be based on your specific circumstances.
So, how can I get competitively priced life cover?
Whether someone smokes is by no means a reason to be deterred from taking out life insurance. If anything, it gives more reason to do so.
While all life insurance companies will charge a premium loading for people that smoke, there are a couple of ways to get affordable cover. Either compare providers easily with our simple comparison tool, or speak to an insurance specialist today.
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Frequently asked questions
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You pay the same as buying directly from the life insurer. Better still, we regularly run exclusive deals that you won't find on any other site – plus, our tables make it easy to compare policies.
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