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Can unhealthy habits affect the cost of my life insurance?

Find out how smoking, drinking, and being overweight can increase your life insurance premiums

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When it comes to life insurance and critical illness cover, there are some factors you can’t control that will affect your cover. These include your age, medical history, and whether you have any pre-existing medical conditions. However, you can save in the long run by taking control of your unhealthy habits now.

Life insurance comparison sites such as Uswitch give you a quick quote based on some general questions, but your final quote will be based on your general health and medical history, which you’ll be asked about later on in the process. Below we’ve outlined the factors that you can control, which could affect the cost of your life insurance:

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Compare life insurance with Uswitch and get cover from just £4.39 per month*


In order to give you an accurate quote for life insurance or critical illness cover, your insurer will need to determine whether you’re a healthy weight by calculating your BMI (body mass index). This is a measurement based on your weight in proportion to your height, and insurers consider a healthy BMI to be between 18 and 25.

Insurers base your premium on this information because being overweight or obese puts you more at risk of serious health issues such as diabetes, stroke, heart attack and some types of cancer.

It’s important to be open and honest to ensure your cover is valid. Your insurer can request your medical information from your doctor, and may not pay out in the event of a claim if you’ve lied about your weight.

If you are overweight or obese and lose a significant amount weight you will not only see a reduction in your BMI, but also in your life insurance premium. If you already have a policy and have lost lots of weight, be sure to inform your insurer so they can adjust your premium if needed. You may be able to save more with a different insurer, so make sure you compare life insurance quotes on a site like Uswitch.

Alcohol intake

Some insurers want to get an idea of your health and lifestyle by asking how many units of alcohol you drink per week.

Again, it’s important to be honest on your application. Some insurers undertake random spot checks and when it’s time to claim on your life insurance or critical illness policy your history with alcohol is likely to be investigated.

If you are able to cut down your regular alcohol intake your insurer will see you as less of a risk and reduce your premium accordingly. If you have previously been treated for alcoholism or alcohol-related problems, you may find it difficult to get life or critical illness cover except from a specialist provider.

family silhouette at beach
Silhouette of family at the beach


Life insurance and critical illness cover for smokers can cost more than double that for non-smokers due to the health issues associated with a smoking habit.

From an insurer’s point of view, smoking includes all tobacco and nicotine products such as cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, pipes and nicotine replacement products such as e-cigarettes. Even if you’re just an occasional smoker, you’ll need to inform your insurer or they may not pay out on a claim.

Planning to quit? You are typically classed as a non-smoker after you’ve quit for 12-18 months, and your life insurance premium will drop further the longer you go without smoking. Again, your insurer can contact your doctor, and can even order a urine test to determine whether you’re a smoker.

Do I have to disclose this information?

Due to the nature of life insurance and critical illness cover, it’s important to share these personal details with your insurer. If you get a quick quote with Uswitch, you’ll be contacted directly by phone and can talk through this information confidentially with an advisor.

As with all insurance products, it’s important to be honest and accurate in your life insurance application to ensure you’re covered should the worst happen. You insurer may undertake spot checks to determine whether you’ve given accurate information, and your application is likely to be investigated if you make a claim (i.e. if you claim on your critical illness cover after a diagnosis, or if your family claims on your policy after you die), especially if your claim is for an illness that could have been caused or exacerbated by smoking, drinking or being overweight.

If your insurer finds that you haven’t been honest in your application, it’s likely they will reject your claim. In the case of life insurance or critical illness cover, this could mean your loved ones miss out on a significant payment in their time of need.

Compare life insurance

Compare life insurance with Uswitch and get cover from just £4.39 per month*

*Based on £150,000 of level-term cover for 25 years for a 30-year-old non-smoking male with no pre-existing medical conditions (March 2023).

The life insurance comparison service is provided by Direct Life & Pension Services Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (155312). Registered Office; Friars House, 52A East Street, Chichester, West Sussex PO21 2PJ. By using this system you are also agreeing to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy 

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