How do UK life insurance companies define a ‘smoker’ and a ‘non-smoker’?

Posted by – April 2, 2013

When you fill out an application to apply for life insurance you will be sent a long questionnaire to fill out. It is primarily on the basis of this that your life insurance premiums will be decided.

So how do UK life insurance companies define a ‘smoker’ and a ‘non-smoker’?

There are generally two different types of questions asked on these forms to determine whether or not you are a smoker. The following two examples are taken from the application form for the Legal & General Whole of Life plan although you are likely to find very similar examples elsewhere.

1. Have you used cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or nicotine replacements in the last 12 months – including occasional use?
2. If you smoke cigarettes how many do you, or did you, smoke on average each day?


The first question was found in the first section of the questionnaire entitled “Initial Client Details” and the second in “General Health and Lifestyle”. What this may imply is that the companies are attempting to obtain an honest answer by catching the reader off-guard. Moreover, it implies that the moment an employee of the firm sees the answer to that question your application is sorted into a particular pile right away.

It may surprise you to learn that it is on the basis of the first question that life insurance companies will decide whether or not to class you as a “smoker”. If you said “yes” to this question, even if you only had one cigar last Christmas, then you are going to be asked to pay the far higher insurance premiums that the insurer asks of all smokers.

“..If you are an occasional smoker looking for a life insurance policy it is perhaps best shopping around..”

You may, of course, end up paying far lower premiums than someone who later divulges that they smoke a pack a day. However, as we have already discussed, the difference between what a smoker and a non-smoker pay is large enough in itself.

There are, however, some companies who give a small “occasional smoker’s” allowance – they enumerate the number of cigars/cigarettes they believe an occasional smoker should smoke in a year and if you can say that you smoke fewer than that you will not have to pay the smoker’s premiums.

Most companies quote a number of around one a month or twelve a year. If you are an occasional smoker looking for a life insurance policy it is perhaps best shopping around until you find one of these as it could make a considerable difference to the amount you pay. The best way of doing this is usually to try talking to one of the company’s sales representatives and asking them to clarify their stance on occasional smokers.

How do UK life insurance companies define a ‘smoker’ and a ‘non-smoker’? – Extract gratefully copied with permission from

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