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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.

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Did you know?
More than 3.8 million Australians have told a lie in order to get a discount on their life insurance policy, meaning a very significant number of people could be sitting on worthless policies. Recent Finder research found men (29%) are more likely than women (11%) to be less than truthful on a life insurance application.

Finder survey: Have Australians of different ages lied on their life insurance policy?

Response
I've never lied on an insurance policy96.55%
I lied on my current policy3.07%
I've lied on a past policy0.38%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1110 Australians, December 2023

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

StatusNon-smokerSmoker
Ages30, 40, 50, 6030, 40, 50, 60
StateNSWNSW
OccupationAccountant (Qualified)Accountant (Qualified)
Cover$500,000$500,000
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.

Compare direct life insurance brands and get quotes today

1 - 7 of 13
Name Product Maximum Cover Maximum Entry Age Terminal Illness Benefit Claims Acceptance Rate Average Claim Time Sum Insured
NobleOak Life Insurance
$25,000,000
74
$25,000,000
96.90%
1.1 months
$24,483 million
Our verdict: Finder Life Insurance Award winner for the last 5 years in a row. Good value for money, simple application process and a high claims acceptance rate.
Medibank Life Insurance
$2,500,000
70
$2,500,000
Data not available
Data not available
Data not available
Our verdict: Medibank offers a higher payout limit ($2.5 million) than 15 other providers. Get a 10% discount if you're already a Medibank Health Insurance member.

⭐ Current offer: Save 10% on your first year of Medibank Life Insurance when you apply by 31 July 2024. T&Cs apply.
TAL Accelerated Protection Life Insurance
No set limit
74
Not stated
Data not available
1 months
$249,285 million
Our verdict: One of Australia's leading life insurers. Automatically includes child critical illness cover. Plus, it comes with a level premium option (e.g. costs remain similar as you get older).

⭐ Current offer: Get up to 15% off your TAL Life, Trauma or TPD insurance policy for life - if you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 19 and 28 at the time of your application. Offer T&Cs on insurer website apply.
ahm Life Insurance
$1,500,000
55
$1,500,000
Data not available
Data not available
Data not available
Our verdict: ahm offers a simple application process. You can be approved online or over the phone. There are no medical or blood tests needed.

⭐ Current offer: Get 10% off your first year of ahm Life Insurance when you apply by 31 July 2024. T&Cs apply.
AAMI Life Insurance
$1,500,000
65
$1,500,000
Data not available
3.1 months
$37,768 million
Our verdict: There’s flexibility with AAMI as you can add another adult to your cover, with a competitive limit of $1.5 million. Easy application process with no medical exams.

⭐ Current offer: Save up to 10% on premiums every year for the life of the policy on AAMI Life Insurance. Offer ends 30 Sept 2024. T&Cs apply.
Suncorp Life Insurance
$1,500,000
65
$1,500,000
Data not available
3.1 months
$37,768 million
Our verdict: Competitive maximum cover limit of $1.5 million. Suncorp lets you change your cover amount by up to $100,000 after a big life event, such as having a baby.

⭐ Current offer: Save up to 10% on premiums every year for the life of the policy on Suncorp Life Insurance. Offer ends 30 Sept 2024. T&Cs apply.
Real Family Life Cover
$1,000,000
64
$1,000,000
88.90%
2.4 months
$53,238 million
Our verdict: The application is simple; it can be done with 1 phone call and there are no medical exams. But households with larger debts may need more than a $1 million payout.

⭐ Current offer: Get back 10% of the premiums you’ve paid after 1 year.
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  • You pay the same price as buying directly from the life insurer.

  • We're not owned by an insurer (unlike other comparison sites).

  • We've done 100+ hours of policy research to help you understand what you're comparing.

Speak to an insurance consultant to help you find an affordable and personalised policy

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James Martin was the insurance editor at Finder. He has written on a range of insurance and finance topics for over 7 years. James often shares his insurance expertise as a media spokesperson and has appeared on Prime 7 News, WIN News, Insurance News, 7NEWS and The Guardian. He holds a Tier 1 General Insurance (General Advice) certification and a Tier 1 Generic Knowledge certification, both of which meet the requirements of ASIC Regulatory Guide 146 (RG146). See full bio

James's expertise
James has written 258 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Car, home, life, health, travel and pet insurance
  • Managing the cost of living
  • Money-saving tips

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