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Term Insurance for Smokers

Smokers are eligible for availing of the benefits of term insurance. They must provide accurate information about their smoking habits during the application process.

  • 5,796 Views | Updated on: Apr 10, 2024

Term life insurance for smokers works similarly to term insurance for non-smokers, but premiums are typically higher due to the increased health risks associated with smoking. When applying for term life insurance as a smoker, you will need to disclose your smoking habits on the insurance application. This includes information about the frequency and type of tobacco products you use, such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or smokeless tobacco.

Are Smokers Eligible for Term Insurance?

Smokers are eligible for term insurance. While purchasing affordable life insurance for smokers, the insurance company will ask the policyholder a few questions:

  • Do you consume any tobacco/nicotine products?
  • When was the last time you consumed tobacco/nicotine products?
  • Have you consumed a tobacco/nicotine product in the last five years?

The insurance company will also conduct various examinations to determine the policyholder’s health factors and smoking habits. If the policyholder is found to present incorrect information or lies, they may be subjected to below charges:

  • Insurance scam allegation and punishment
  • Insurance policy may turn null and void with no benefits
  • No policy coverage or benefits will be granted

How Do Insurance Companies Identify Smokers?

In order to provide benefits specific to smokers, it is essential to identify them. Insurance companies may use various methods to identify smokers when individuals apply for insurance policies. Some common methods include:


Most insurance applications include questions about smoking habits. Applicants are typically asked whether they smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products. Providing false information on the application can result in consequences if discovered later.

Medical Exams

Many insurance policies, especially those for larger coverage amounts, require applicants to undergo a medical examination. During the exam, a healthcare professional may ask about smoking habits and may also perform tests to detect nicotine or its metabolites in the applicant’s blood, urine, or saliva.

Nicotine Testing

Some insurance companies may specifically conduct nicotine tests as part of the underwriting process. These tests can detect the presence of nicotine or its metabolites in bodily fluids and indicate recent tobacco use.

Medical Records

Insurance companies may request access to an applicant’s medical records, which may contain information about smoking habits documented by healthcare providers during previous visits or treatments.

Prescription History

Certain medications, such as those used for smoking cessation, may be indicated in an individual’s prescription history, providing clues about smoking habits.

Types of Smokers as per Insurance Companies

The smoking behaviors among insurers vary, leading some insurance providers to classify smokers into distinct categories. Insurance companies categorize individuals into four types:

  • Typical smoker: Smoker who has minor health issues.
  • Preferred Smoker: A smoker who is fit and healthy.
  • Table-rated Smoker: Smoker with obvious, and sometimes severe, health issues caused by smoking.
  • Non-smoker: Individual who does not smoke

The classification of smokers helps insurance companies calculate the premium amount for a term plan. A low premium is awarded to people who do not smoke and maintain good health. This classification of smokers may differ as per different insurance companies.

Typically, insurance companies will charge the highest premium for a table-rated smoker, then the second-highest to a typical smoker, and relatively low for a preferred smoker. In some cases, some insurance companies might deny a term plan to a table-rated smoker if he/she is in a critical condition.

Why do Insurers Charge Higher Premiums for Non-smokers?

Smokers usually have a lower life expectancy rate than non-smokers. Hence, while providing insurance for smokers, the premium charges for an insurance policy might be higher as compared to premium charges for an individual who does not smoke. The insurance company will charge a lower premium for a policyholder who does not smoke and is healthy.

How to Find the Right Term Insurance for Smokers?

Finding a perfect term plan can be challenging, with so many considerations to follow. If you are trying to find genuine term insurance as a smoker, you can consider taking the following steps:

  • To choose the best term plan for smokers, it would be optimal to select a policy that offers high coverage at a nominal cost.
  • Opt for online insurance offers from trusted insurance companies like Kotak Life and select an online term plan that perfectly suits your requirements.
  • Try communicating with a knowledgeable person who can guide you to find the right term insurance plan.
  • You must also research well and choose a term plan that offers you a range of riders to choose from, which would enhance the coverage of your term policy.

Wrapping Up

While smokers are eligible for term insurance, they must provide accurate information about their smoking habits during the application process. Insurance companies employ various methods to identify smokers, and individuals may be classified into different categories based on their health and smoking status, impacting premium rates accordingly.

Smokers must explore their options carefully and choose a term insurance plan that offers adequate coverage at a reasonable cost. By taking proactive steps and seeking guidance from reputable insurers, smokers can protect their families from financial hardships in the future.

Key Takeaways

  • Smokers are eligible for term insurance but are subject to higher premiums due to increased health risks associated with smoking.
  • Insurance companies inquire about smoking habits during the application process, and dishonesty can lead to severe consequences, including policy nullification.
  • Insurers use various methods such as medical exams, nicotine testing, and accessing medical records to identify smokers accurately.
  • Insurance companies categorize smokers into typical, preferred, table-rated, and non-smoker groups, affecting premium rates accordingly.
  • Non-smokers generally receive lower premiums due to their longer life expectancy compared to smokers, reflecting the higher risk associated with tobacco use.



Why do insurers charge higher premiums for smokers?

Smokers generally have a lower life expectancy and face increased health risks. Therefore, insurers charge higher premiums to compensate for these higher risks.


How can smokers find the right term insurance policy?

Smokers should compare policies from reputable insurers, consider factors such as coverage amount and premium rates, and explore online offers. Seeking guidance from knowledgeable professionals can also help in choosing the right plan.


Can smokers lower their premiums by quitting smoking?

Some insurance policies offer the option for smokers to reclassify as non-smokers and receive lower premiums if they quit smoking for a certain period and can demonstrate that they are no longer using tobacco products.

- A Consumer Education Initiative series by Kotak Life

Amit Raje
Written By :
Amit Raje

Amit Raje is an experienced marketer who has worked in various Fintechs and leading Financial companies in India. With focused experience in Digital, Amit has pioneered multiple digital commerce in India. Now, close to two decades later, he is the vice president and head of the D2C business department. He masters the skill of strategic management, also being certified in it from IIMA. He has challenged his challenges and contributed his efforts in this journey of digital transformation.

Amit Raje
Reviewed By :
Prasad Pimple

Prasad Pimple has a decade-long experience in the Life insurance sector and as EVP, Kotak Life heads Digital Business. He is responsible for developing user friendly product journeys, creating consumer awareness and helping consumers in identifying need for life insurance solutions. He has 20+ years of experience in creating and building business verticals across Insurance, Telecom and Banking sectors

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