Yes, there is life insurance for smokers. Many people think that if they smoke then they have no life insurance options, or that life insurance premiums will be too expensive. However, that's simply not true. We're taking a look at what you need to know about life insurance for smokers, and you might be surprised at some of the things we have to say.
Life Insurance for Smokers: The Basics
Okay, we'll start with the good news. It's actually not difficult to get life insurance for smokers. Nearly any South African life insurance company will sell you a policy. Unlike other specialist groups, such as customers looking for life insurance with HIV, for example, your choices should not be limited. So getting a policy is as simple as heading to your local branch of Absa Insurance, First for Women, Dial Direct, or any other household name, and filing an application. That's the good news, but…
There's some bad news too. You are going to be paying more expensive premiums than someone who doesn't smoke. We'll take a closer look at that in a moment, but you should know from the outset that life insurance for smokers does come at a price, though that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not affordable.
Life Insurance for Smokers: The Premiums
Life insurance premiums are based on statistics that tell the life insurance company involved what kind of risk they're taking. In very basic terms, the more risk of the customer involved dying soon means more expensive premiums, because that customer will probably not be paying premiums for very long. That might sound cold, but it is the way that life insurance works.
We're not here to judge or to lecture, but most smokers already know the dangers of smoking. Again, put in very simple terms, a smoker is three times more likely to die than a similar person (same age, same sex, same health background) who doesn't smoke. That makes smokers a bigger risk for life insurance companies than non-smokers. Simple.
Hold on a second though, don't panic yet. Life insurance for smokers is not necessarily unaffordable, despite these extra risks. Why? Well, because many things affect the cost of your life insurance premiums, including age, and general health. So, if you're, for example, young and fit but happen to smoke, that's only one black mark against you.
And there's another simple truth. According to The Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa there are around 7.7 million adult smokers in the country, making smokers a large target group for life insurance companies. Simply put: insurance companies can't afford NOT to insure smokers, and premiums have to be somewhat affordable or people won't pay them. Get yourself some life insurance quotes for smokers and compare prices and you might be surprised at just how affordable life cover for smokers really is.
Life Insurance for Smokers: What to Expect (and other surprises)
You can expect to answer some questions about your general health and lifestyle when applying for any kind of life insurance policy. These will include questions about use of tobacco products. You may be asked whether you smoke, how often you smoke, whether you've smoked in the last twelve months, for example. And you must answer these questions honestly, or risk your life insurance becoming invalid.
Most insurance companies do NOT make a difference between tobacco products. That means that they don't care if you smoke cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, or even whether you chew tobacco, all will affect your premiums in the same way (this isn't true for every company, but for the majority it is). With some companies the use of nicotine patches or gum is treated in the same way as use of cigarettes, since nicotine is still involved.
Most insurance companies do NOT make a difference between regular smokers and occasional smokers. So if you smoke only on weekends or only at parties they will treat you more or less the same as those that smoke daily (which explains why they generally ask if you have smoked during the last twelve months). This may seem unfair, but it is the way most companies operate.
How to Lower Those Premiums
Life insurance for smokers is definitely a possibility, and probably an affordable one too, but there are ways that you can lower those potential premiums. These include:
Stop Smoking: rather obviously, if you stop smoking your premiums should go down over time. If you need advice on how to stop smoking, your doctor can help you;
Be Otherwise Low Risk: if you don't want to stop smoking, then at least minimise your risk category in other areas. If you're not overweight, don't play extreme sports, have a relatively safe job and are fit, these positive things can balance out the negative risk of you smoking;
Comparison Shop: not all life insurance companies are created equal, so if you're looking for life insurance for smokers make sure you get quotes from as many companies as possible and compare prices, that way you're likely to get the best deal;
Look for Differences Between Products: if you happen to be an e-cigarette smoker, or use nicotine gum or patches, or even chew tobacco, it might be worth your time looking for a company that treats these products differently from cigarettes, giving you lower premiums because you're making a “healthier” unhealthy choice, if that makes sense.
Life Insurance for Smokers: The Extras
One other thing that you might want to consider if you're looking for life insurance for smokers is an extra benefit on your policy. Many life insurance companies offer additional “dread disease” or “critical illness” insurance. These plans will help pay for medical care, or help support a family, in the case of a serious disease. Given the increased risk of cancers, heart disease and strokes that smokers generally have, it could be worthwhile getting this extra benefit added to your regular policy. Premiums will cost more, but you will have additional coverage in case you need it.
Life Insurance for Smokers: The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that life insurance for smokers is a definite possibility, and can be very affordable, though obviously smokers tend to pay more than non-smokers. Careful shopping and comparisons should mean that you can find a policy that works for you. But if you really want to save, then the only thing to do is to stop smoking…
* Disclaimer: We do not represent any of the companies, products and/or services reviewed, published or advertised on this website. Nor are we financial, health or insurance professionals or services provider. If you request a quote or purchase a product/service, it will not necessarily be given by the company reviewed on any specific page. Any decisions you make based on the information presented is at your own discretion and we advise that before doing so, you consult with the relevant professional.
Main subject: Life Insurance for Smokers