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Life insurance for smokers

Life insurance providers view smoking as a high-risk activity so your premiums will be higher – unless you can prove you've quit.

Expert advice on life insurance for smokers Learn more
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What you need to know

  • If you have regularly used a nicotine product in the past year, including vaping, then you will be considered a smoker.
  • Smoking typically doubles the price of your life insurance premium.
  • Generally, you may be eligible for a reduction on your premium if you quit smoking for 12 months.

How life insurers view smoking

Smoking accounts for 13% of all deaths in Australia – killing an estimated 20,500 people a year. If you're a smoker, you're classified as a high-risk applicant by all life insurers and your premiums will typically be much more than a non-smoker. A life insurance application will have questions that will lead to you being labelled a smoker or non-smoker.

Generally, insurers won't distinguish between any of the following:

  • Cigarettes
  • Vapes and e-cigarettes
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Cigars
  • Nicotine replacements, like patches

So, insurance providers will typically put e-cigarette use and vaping into the same category of 'smoker'.

Life insurance costs for smokers vs non-smokers

The below quotes are based on a 30 year old smoker living in NSW, earning $70,000 annually, taking out $500,000 life insurance cover. Prices were gathered in February 2023 and are subject to change.

PolicyMonthly premium (Non-smoker)Monthly premium (Smoker)Percentage increaseApply today
TAL Lifetime Protection$20.00$45.59127.95%Get quote
NobleOak Premium Life Direct$22.20$22.200%Get quote
RAC My Protection Plan$27.52$49.9781.58%Get quote
Allianz Life Plan$36.89$68.5485.80%More info
ANZ Ezicover Life Insurance$32.11$53.8667.74%More info
Zurich Ezicover Life Insurance$23.49$38.2062.62%More info
AHM Life Insurance$43.75$74.1069.37%Get quote
Medibank Life Insurance$46.04$46.040%Get quote
AAMI Life Insurance$80.14$1,024.711,178.65%Get quote
Insuranceline Life Insurance$42.20$80.1489.91%More info
Suncorp Life Insurance$29.41$80.14172.49%Get quote
Bendigo Bank MaxLife Life Protect$58.64$109.5686.83%More info
Budget Direct$22.20$40.3181.58%More info
PolicyMonthly premium (Non-smoker)Monthly premium (Smoker)Percentage increaseApply today
TAL Lifetime Protection$18.82$45.59142.24%Get quote
NobleOak Premium Life Direct$15.19$25.2566.23%Get quote
RAC My Protection Plan$18.83$31.3066.22%Get quote
Allianz Life Plan$28.53$43.3151.81%More info
ANZ Ezicover Life Insurance$25.39$43.7072.12%More info
Zurich Ezicover Life Insurance$18.15$31.7474.88%More info
AAMI Life Insurance$29.41$53.2881.16%Get quote
Insuranceline Life Insurance$29.41$53.2881.16%More info
Suncorp Life Insurance$29.41$53.2881.16%Get quote
AHM Life Insurance$34.91$46.7433.89%Get quote
Medibank Life Insurance$36.75$49.1833.82%Get quote
Bendigo Bank MaxLife Life Protect$35.91$56.5157.37%More info
Budget Direct$15.19$25.2566.23%More info
Smoking icon
Did you know?
1 in 10 Australian adults are current daily smokers (10.7% or 2.1 million adults) in 2020-21. That's a decrease from 2.6 million (13.8%) in 2017-18. Men are also more likely than women to smoke daily (12.6% compared to 8.8%).
Gary Ross Hunter's expert

Finder's senior insurance writer on how to save on your policy

Insurers will typically require members to give up smoking for 12 months before they classify them as a non-smoker. So, if you add the average monthly cost of a half-a-pack-a-day habit at $634 per month and an additional $31 per month in life insurance premiums, this works out to just almost $8,000 per year you could be saving if you gave up cigarettes. It's worth asking your provider if they'll be able to change your terms and offer you a saving. You might have to take a medical exam, which may include a blood test, before you can change your terms
— Gary Ross Hunter, insurance and innovations editor.

Finder survey: Have Australians from different states lied on their life insurance policy?

ResponseWAVICSAQLDNSW
I've never lied on an insurance policy24.32%24.32%20.99%21.36%21.73%
I lied on my current policy0.9%0.34%0.45%1.11%
I've lied on a past policy0.45%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1110 Australians, December 2023
Data for ACT, NT, TAS not shown due to insufficient sample size. Some other states may also be excluded for this reason.

How long do I have to stop smoking to be classified as a non-smoker?

Typically, to be classed as a 'non-smoker' you'll need to be free of any smoking products for 12 months but this car vary between insurers. Insurers usually don't differentiate between an occasional smoker (for example, a 'social smoker') or a pack-a-day smoker.

In 2020-21, more than 1 in 4 (27.2%) people aged 18 years and over were ex-smokers.

Unfortunately, kicking the habit won't necessarily mean you can amend your policy terms – this will vary from policy to policy. Ask your provider if they'll be able to change your terms and offer you a saving. You might have to take a medical exam, which may include a blood test, before you can change your terms.

Even if your insurer won't budge, the upside is you'll still enjoy the health benefits of non-smoking.

Brenton Tong: financial adviser

Brenton Tong

"I usually recommend that if someone wants to quit, and they are also going to be changing/applying for life insurance, that they see a doctor for a checkup when they start – and put on the record that they have quit. Then a check up at 12 months with a confirmation that they have been a non-smoker for 12 months."

Do I have to tell my insurer I smoke?

Yes. If you've used any nicotine products over the past 12 months, you'll need to declare it. The Insurance Contracts Act 1984 specifies that you must disclose anything you know, or would be expected to know, that's relevant to an insurer's decision to offer you cover. Failing to do so could lead to a future claim - either by you or your beneficiaries - being turned down.

Read more on this subject in our guide to life insurance and smoking disclosure.

Fracture
The earlier you quit, the better
Research shows that the more cigarettes per day you smoke, and the earlier you quit, the more years of life you gain.

Is vaping considered smoking for life insurance purposes?

Yes, you'll be considered a smoker if you vape and the e-cigarette contains nicotine. While e-cigarettes are frequently promoted as 'healthier' than regular cigarettes, not much research has been done on their health effects. As a result, insurer's don't differentiate between e-cigarette and cigarette smokers.

If you vape and the insurer asks whether you use any nicotine products, you should answer yes. Otherwise you risk any having any future claim rejected.

3 factors an insurer will take into account for smokers

Smokers, along with other high risk cases, are charged a far higher premium than non-smokers. The following information may be taken into account by an insurer:

Number 1

The type of smoker you are

Are you a heavy smoker? Insurers will want to know how many individual or packs of cigarettes you smoke every day to determine the health risks you are exposed to. This also includes your preferred method: tobacco chewing, cigarettes, cigars or nicotine patch.

Number 2

The length of time you've smoked for

An insurer will also ask when you started smoking to determine how high your health risk exposure is. The longer you have been smoking, the higher the risks for critical illnesses are.

Number 3

The date you quit

You will only be determined a non-smoker if 12 months or more have passed since you had your last nicotine product.

How can I get more affordable life insurance if I smoke?

There are some steps you can take to reduce your premium:

  • Quit smoking. The first and most logical step is to improve your current lifestyle. Quitting smoking will be a key factor a big impact in you having the opportunity to reduce your premium rates. You could try the government's free My QuitBuddy app or call the Quitline on 13 QUIT (13 7848).
  • Ask an expert. If you don’t know where to begin, ask for help from an insurance adviser. An insurance adviser can explain the features and benefits of different life insurance plans, answer any question you might have and tailor a life insurance plan suitable to your needs. You can speak to one of our partner brokers by completing the form below.
  • Shop around and compare. Just as with anyone taking out life cover, it is important to consider the different types of policy options available to smokers. Find out what benefits and features are relevant to your needs. Once you've decided on the type of policy you want, shop around for similar policies from different insurance providers and compare their rates, exclusions and inclusions. Our comparison tool can help you do so.

Financial adviser Grant Millar on life insurance for smokers

Grant Millar Financial Adviser

Who is considered a smoker?

"Broadly speaking, when looking to obtain life insurance, you will be asked if you've smoked tobacco or any other substance, or used e-cigarettes or any nicotine replacement products within the 12 months immediately prior to your application for cover. If you answer 'yes' to any of these, it's highly likely you'll end up being deemed as a smoker – even if it was just one cigar from a night out with friends 6 months ago."

How much more will it cost to be a smoker?

"Being a smoker results in a massive loading (an increase to the base cost) being applied to your life insurance premiums, sometimes up to 2.5 times or more than a non-smoker. Keep in mind, though, every person's situation is different, and every insurer prices their policies differently, so it's worth shopping around."

How do I remove a loading?

"The good news is, if you can answer 'no' to the question about your smoking history over a continual 12+ month period after you've been issued your policy, you can apply to be deemed a non-smoker and have your premiums adjusted. This process may involve questions around whether you've quit smoking due to health reasons, potentially with specific questions relating to any tests, investigations or treatment relating to your cardiovascular or respiratory systems, or other health issues such as cancer, cyst, or growth of any kind.

The reason the insurer asks these questions is to accurately assess their ongoing risk of providing insurance to you. Keep in mind, the insurer won't be able to cancel or alter your contract if you've suffered health issues after your policy was issued (unless, perhaps, it relates to something you failed to disclose prior to your policy being issued); however, the insurer may not remove the smoker status, or they may offer other alternate terms, if there are still risks that exist and warrant such action.

It is up to you whether you accept any alternate terms that are offered by the insurer when you apply to be deemed a non-smoker.

If smoking was a lifestyle choice, and you've had no serious adverse health effects since your policy was issued, you're much less likely to have any trouble with the insurer changing your status to a non-smoker."

Grant Millar is the financial adviser & money coach at Inspired Financial Planners.

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Frequently asked questions about smoking and life insurance

Compare life insurance quotes from these direct brands

Name Product Maximum Cover Maximum Entry Age Terminal Illness Benefit Claims Acceptance Rate Average Claim Time Sum Insured
NobleOak Life Insurance
Finder AwardBonus
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.

⭐ Current offer: Get two months free on all cover types apply by 14 June 2024. T&Cs apply.
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 1 July 2024. T&Cs apply.
TAL Accelerated Protection Life Insurance
No set limit
73
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.
RACWA Life Insurance
$25,000,000
74
$25,000,000
96.90%
1.1 months
$24,483 million
Our verdict: RAC’s maximum death cover limit of $25 million is one of the highest limits you’ll find, including $5 million in TPD insurance. You can get an online quote, but you’ll need to call RAC to get trauma cover. Benefit from added peace of mind with fully underwritten insurance. RAC is also WA-based but services all of Australia.

⭐ Current offer: Get two months free when you apply for two or more RAC Life Insurance covers by 30 June 2024. T&Cs 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 1 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: Take out a new AAMI Life Insurance policy and get $100 eGift card after your first 4 months of cover. T&Cs apply. Ends June 30, 2024.
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: Take out a new Suncorp Life Insurance policy and get $100 eGift card after your first 4 months of cover. T&Cs apply. Ends June 30, 2024.
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.
HCF Life Protect Insurance
$1,500,000
65
$1,500,000
Data not available
Data not available
Data not available
Our verdict: Similar cover to other insurers ($1.5 million). A good discount for HCF members of 10% and an easy initial quote process.

⭐ Current offer: Eligible HCF Members receive 10% premium discount and HCF Thank You rewards.
Zurich Ezicover Life Insurance
$1,500,000
69
$1,500,000
98%
3 months
$24,495 million
Our verdict: Good if you want a cheap policy from a well-regarded insurer – its 98% claims acceptance rate is higher than any other provider on Finder. Zurich keeps things simple: unlike others, it doesn’t go in for optional add-ons such as TPD or trauma cover.

⭐ Current offer: Policy discounts include 10% off for your partner if you sign up for a joint policy. You can also get 5% off income protection if you buy it alongside your life cover.
Insuranceline Life Cover
$1,500,000
65
$1,500,000
90.10%
3.1 months
$37,768 million
Our verdict: Insuranceline pays a lump sum of up to $1.5 million. Once your cover’s in place, you can increase it after a big life event, such as having a baby, without further medical assessment.

⭐ Current offer: Protect your family with an Insuranceline policy and you can go into the draw for a chance to win a $1,000 gift card. New Customers only, T&Cs apply. Competition entries close on 31 July 2024.
Guardian Life Insurance
$1,500,000
64
$1,500,000
88.90%
2.4 months
$53,238 million
Our verdict: Competitive cover limit of $1.5 million. You can add children’s cover of up to $50,000 – most policies don’t include this option.
RACQ Life Insurance
$1,000,000
65
$1,000,000
97%
Data not available
Data not available
One of just 4 insurers to offer children’s insurance. Get cover of up to $50,000 for 7 serious illnesses. RACQ offers 3 ways to save on life insurance: RACQ members get 10% off when buying online. There’s a 5% joint policy saving. Plus you could score 10% off your premiums if you achieve Silver status with AIA Vitality. You can apply for cover online or over the phone.
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