The Best Life Insurance for Smokers

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Looking for life insurance as a smoker? It can be a daunting task, since life insurance rates for smokers are higher than the average Canadian's premiums. But the good news is that most people in Canada who smoke can still get approved for a policy. 

Keep reading below to learn how to find the best life insurance in Canada for smokers (and to discover our top pick!).

How much does life insurance for smokers cost?

Because being a smoker increases your risk of developing a serious health condition, it also makes you a higher risk to insure. After all, if you’re more likely to get a serious illness like cancer or die, your insurance company is more likely to have to pay out your death benefit. And that’s expensive for them. 

After all, how do insurance companies compensate for this greater risk (and higher potential cost down the road)? By charging you higher premiums that they would charge a non-smoker. 

What is underwriting in life insurance for smokers blog

The difference in your rates is typically less the younger you are – even as a smoker, you tend to be healthier at a younger age, and chances are you haven’t smoked as long at that point. But the gap increases substantially the older you get. Across the board, rates for smokers can be two to three times higher than rates for non-smokers. 

Here’s how life insurance rates typically compare for smokers vs. non-smokers, assuming both are applying for a 20-year term life insurance plan valued at $250,000:

Smokers Monthly Premium Non-Smokers Monthly Premium
Male, Age 20 $29.25/month $17.33/month
Female, Age 20 $18.90/month $13.73/month
Male, Age 30 $33.30/month $18.23/month
Female, Age 30 $24.58/month $14.85/month
Male, Age 40 $72.45/month $28.13/month
Female, Age 40 $51.53/month $21.60/month
Male, Age 50 $186.30/month $72.00/month
Female, Age 50 $127.58/month $51.30/month

Yikes  – you can see the rates get high pretty quick for a smoker.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to get classified as a smoker in the eyes of an insurance company. Most insurers will consider you a smoker even If you’ve smoked just one cigarette in the last 12 months

And it’s not just cigarette smoking that will make you a smoker for insurance purposes. Using tobacco in any form, including chewing tobacco, vaping, and smoking cigars, is considered “smoking” by insurers.

How to find the best life insurance for smokers in Canada

If you smoke, you won’t be able to get the same rate as a non-smoker with the same health and lifestyle characteristics because of the increased potential for developing a critical illness. But you can get a better deal on your coverage by choosing an insurer that’s more lenient toward smokers. 

Here’s what to look for: 

  • Better rates for smokers: Some insurers offer more competitive rates for smokers than others. Alternatively, they might offer better rates if your tobacco use is occasional or doesn’t involve smoking cigarettes specifically. If you smoke, it’s especially important to get numerous life insurance quotes from Canadian insurers to see who can offer you the best rate.
  • The chance to lower your premium if you quit: Some insurers will consider lowering your monthly premiums if you quit smoking for at least 12 months straight. For this reason, quitting isn’t just good for your health. It can also be great for your bank account!

Our top life insurance pick for smokers

From the perspective of the average Canadian family's wants, we're looking at life insurance providers based on this criteria: 

  • Who has the affordable premiums?
  • Who has the simplest application process?
  • What coverage options do they have for the whole family (joint policies, child riders, etc.)?

As a smoker, you're already in a higher price range for life insurance premiums (up to 200% higher than the average price). That means finding the most affordable option is the key to getting a manageable rate.

PolicyMe: some of the most affordable rates in Canada

PolicyMe offers some of the most affordable rates in Canada. By cutting out unnecessary admin and distribution costs, we're able to pass those savings down to policyholders. Even if smokers pay more for their premiums than a non-smoking applicant, our policies are still the most affordable.

We reduce the cost barriers of life insurance through technology, delivering high-quality policies at a better price.

Get a life insurance quote in seconds, apply online in minutes, and do it all on your terms.

Read millennial money expert, Jessica Moorhouse's, review of PolicyMe. On why she changed life insurance providers:

"Let’s talk about convenience. With PolicyMe, you can go through the entire life insurance quote application process online in 20 minutes or less. It was simple, intuitive, and fast (how it should be!)."

Recommended reading: Single vs joint life insurance and Life insurance for children

How to apply for life insurance as a smoker

Since smoking even occasionally can make your insurance premiums skyrocket, you might be tempted to lie about your smoking when you apply for insurance. Maybe it was once a few months ago. What's the harm right?

But remember this – when you apply for insurance as a smoker, the most important thing is to be honest. There’s a good chance that your insurer will find out the truth. And if they do, you could face some hefty consequences. 

Though no medical life insurance is an option, for most policies, your insurer will assess your health and review your medical history before approving you for coverage. They have a good chance of discovering that you smoke if you have to provide a urine sample, take a blood test, or share medical records.

Even if your insurer doesn’t find out that you smoke during the underwriting process, you won’t necessarily be in the clear. Insurance policies have a contestability period that usually lasts two years after coverage begins. During this time, your insurer has the right to deny a claim and refund the premiums you’ve paid if they find out that you lied about anything on your application. 

So if you make it past the contestability period, then you’re good to go, right? Not quite.

If your insurer finds out that you lied on your application after the contestability period, they can still adjust your policy based on what they would have approved you for if you had honestly disclosed your smoking history on your application. This might mean decreasing your coverage amount or increasing your premiums. 

A quick note about cannabis/marijuana usage:

Cannabis use is treated differently than tobacco use by life insurance providers. And further to that, there's also a difference in how they process medical and recreational marijuana consumption.

Marijuana users can expect their premiums to be rated higher than non-users/light-users, but the rated premiums will not be as high as they are for tobacco users.

The idea of buying life insurance can be intimidating for anyone (except for an insurance broker, hopefully!). But this is emphasized further for people who regularly use nicotine products. Since rates are higher, finding the best life insurance for smokers can be a daunting task.

Life is expensive, but life insurance doesn’t have to be. Take control of your financial future and get a no-obligation quote below.

Laura McKay

COO & Co-Founder

About the Author

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