Understanding Term Life Insurance for Smokers in Canada

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If you’re curious how smoking affects life insurance eligibility and cost, you’re not alone. Let’s take a straightforward look at life insurance for smokers, clarifying costs and coverage, and guiding you towards policies that best fit your lifestyle and budget.

Key Takeaways

  • Smokers face higher life insurance premiums, but life insurance is still accessible across different types of policies.
  • Comparing quotes from multiple providers can help smokers find more affordable life insurance coverage that meets their needs.
  • Life insurance options for smokers include term life, whole life, and universal life policies; with potential for lower premiums if the smoker quits and remains smoke-free for a period of time.

Understanding Term Life for Smokers

Life insurance is all about assessing risk, and unfortunately, smoking is considered a high-risk lifestyle habit. As a result, smokers often face higher costs due to the increased likelihood of health-associated issues. 

While the costs may be higher, there are still affordable life insurance options out there for smokers. It is designed to cover final expenses, debt obligations, and provide financial security to the policyholder’s family if they were to pass away. 

Why Smokers Face Higher Premiums

Smoking is a known health risk, and increases the likelihood of developing serious health conditions like cancer, heart disease, and lung disease. This leads to higher life insurance premiums for smokers.

The extent of the premium increase can be substantial, even occasional smoking can contribute to higher premiums, because it may indicate a transition to regular smoking.

Types of Smokers

Life insurers are meticulous when it comes to categorizing individuals as smokers. Even occasional or social smoking is factored into premium rates.

Different types of tobacco products can classify you as a smoker. Whether you smoke cigarettes, use e-cigarettes, or consume chewing tobacco, life insurance providers will classify you as a smoker, altering the application process and premium costs.

Finding the Right Coverage for Smokers

Your best bet is to compare quotes from multiple providers to find affordable coverage.

Term life insurance policies, for instance, are designed to provide funding for family expenses or outstanding debts in the event of the policyholder’s passing, making them a great option for smokers. 

Comparing Quotes from Multiple Providers

By comparing quotes, smokers can:

  • Identify the best rates
  • Potentially take advantage of discounts
  • Bundle policies (like home, auto, and life insurance) with the same provider to potentially result in lower overall costs

Best Term Life Insurance Policies for Smokers

For smokers, picking life insurance involves some unique factors. Term policies are usually cheaper and great for younger, healthier folks, but they might not be the best fit for older smokers or those with health issues. 

It's important to figure out how much coverage you need based on your own situation. Thankfully, some insurance companies offer different options to cater to different needs, so finding the right one can be a bit easier. Let’s explore some Canadian companies that offer term life coverage for smokers:

Empire Life

Most insurance companies would categorize smokers as high-risk individuals due to the health risks smoking can cause. These means applicants can expect that the majority of premiums offered would have higher monthly premiums than the average applicant. 

Empire Life Insurance is a great option for smokers because their rates are competitive, even though smoker rates are usually 35-50% higher than non-smoker rates. They might not always be the cheapest, but compared to the average life insurance cost, their premiums are competitive and are a solid option for smokers. 

A big plus for marijuana users is that with Empire Life, you can possibly receive non-smoker rates, and coverage up to $10 million, which is much higher than the average insurance provider.  


PolicyMe is another great choice for smokers looking for life insurance because we offer some of the most affordable rates in Canada. By cutting out unnecessary admin and distribution costs, we pass those savings directly to you. Even though smokers generally pay more, our policies remain highly competitive. 

Our online application process also makes the whole journey of purchasing life insurance a more seamless one, allowing you to apply from the comfort of your home without any hassle or lengthy paperwork.

Term Life Insurance for Smokers

Term life insurance is a recommended choice of coverage among smokers because it provides security for a specific period, typically with lower premiums compared to permanent life insurance. 

Being a high-risk applicant, keeping your policy for a short period can make your monthly premiums drastically cheaper compared to other permanent policies. This option is straightforward and cost-effective, offering essential protection without added features like cash value. It's ideal for those looking for temporary coverage or seeking affordability.

Quitting Smoking and Its Impact on Life Insurance

Quitting smoking is not only a significant health milestone but also brings financial benefits in the world of life insurance. Former smokers can expect lower premiums and better coverage options. 

By comparing life insurance quotes before and after quitting smoking, individuals can understand the financial advantages, potentially saving on premiums.

How Long to Be Considered Smoke-Free

To qualify for non-smoker rates, you must refrain from using any tobacco products, including cigarettes, vaping, and chewing tobacco, for at least 12 months. It’s a significant commitment, but one that can lead to considerable savings on your life insurance premiums.

Reevaluating Your Policy After Quitting

After you quit smoking, it’s a good idea to inform your insurer about this lifestyle change. This could lead to a reassessment of your policy and potentially lower premiums.

The insurer may need you to sign a declaration of your non-smoker status and possibly undergo medical tests to confirm the absence of nicotine in your system. By providing evidence of being nicotine-free, such as through a blood or urine test, you can potentially reduce your life insurance premiums.

Tips for Smokers Applying for Term Life

During the application process, it’s important to be upfront about your smoking status. This disclosure can affect your premium costs and is essential for maintaining the validity of your policy. Not disclosing your smoking habits could lead to serious consequences. For instance, misrepresenting your smoking status and passing away from smoking-related issues could result in a denied claim.


Smokers can still get life insurance, but premiums are typically higher because of the increased health risks associated with smoking. Things to keep in mind:

  • Comparing quotes from multiple providers is important for finding affordable coverage tailored to smokers' needs.
  • Quitting smoking can lead to lower costs and improved coverage options.
  • Non-smoker rates typically need the applicant to be tobacco-free for at least 12 months.
  • During the application process, honesty about smoking habits is crucial to maintain policy validity and avoid claim denials.

Frequently Asked Questions: Term life insurance policies for Smokers

How long should I stop smoking to get a better rate on term life insurance?

To qualify for better rates on term life insurance as a former smoker, you typically need to be smoke-free for at least 12 months. This is the minimum period most insurers in Canada require before considering you for non-smoker rates. Some insurers might offer even better, preferred rates if you’ve quit for a longer period, often two years or more. The longer you stay smoke-free, the better your chances of getting a more affordable premium.

When applying, it’s crucial to be honest about your smoking history. Insurers will look at your overall health, so accurate disclosure ensures you get an accurate quote and prevents any issues with your coverage down the line. Remember, being upfront about your smoking habits not only helps you get the best possible rates but also ensures your loved ones are protected without any surprises.

Does vaping count as smoking for term life?

Even though vaping doesn’t involve burning tobacco, most insurers still consider it smoking when it comes to life insurance. This is because vaping carries similar health risks, such as respiratory issues and heart disease, which are red flags for insurers. If you’re a vaper, expect to be categorized as a smoker and face higher premiums. However, if you use nicotine-free vaping products, some insurers might offer non-smoker rates, but this varies by provider.

Honesty is crucial when applying for life insurance. Be upfront about your vaping habits to get accurate quotes and avoid any issues with your coverage down the road. Insurers will check your medical history and any discrepancies could lead to denied claims or policy cancellations. It’s always better to provide full disclosure and find an insurer who understands your situation rather than risking future complications.

Will term life pay out for smoking-related death?

Yes, term life insurance typically covers smoking-related deaths if your policy is active and your premiums are up to date at the time of death. As long as you were honest about your smoking status when you applied, your insurer won't exclude smoking-related deaths. This means your loved ones will receive the full death benefit if you pass away due to a smoking-related cause.

It's always a good idea to review your policy's terms to check for any specific exclusions or limitations related to smoking. Being upfront about your smoking habits during the application process is crucial. This honesty ensures that there are no surprises down the road and that your family is fully protected. If you have any doubts or questions, don't hesitate to reach out to your insurer for clarification. Being informed helps you make the best decisions for your family's future.

Can I get term life insurance if I have been denied coverage in the past due to my smoking status?

Yes, you can still get term life insurance even if you've been denied coverage in the past due to your smoking status. While smoking can limit your options and increase premiums, it doesn't mean you're out of luck. Many Canadian insurers understand that smokers need coverage too and offer policies tailored to higher-risk individuals. These policies might come with higher premiums, but they provide the essential protection you need.

It's important to shop around and explore your options. Some insurers specialize in covering higher-risk individuals, including smokers, and may have more flexible underwriting criteria. Remember, each insurer has different criteria, so a denial from one doesn't mean a denial from all. Keep looking, and you're likely to find coverage that fits your needs and budget.

Can occasional smokers still qualify for term life policies?

Yes, occasional smokers can still qualify for term life insurance policies, but be prepared for higher premiums compared to non-smokers. In Canada, insurers generally categorize anyone who uses tobacco or nicotine products as a smoker, no matter how infrequently. This means even if you only enjoy the occasional cigar or use nicotine occasionally, you'll likely fall into the smoker category.

However, there's good news! Some insurers offer more flexible underwriting criteria for occasional smokers. For example, if you only smoke cigars or use nicotine infrequently, you might find policies tailored to your situation. The key is to be honest about your smoking habits during the application process. This ensures you get an accurate quote and helps prevent any issues with your coverage down the line. So, while you might pay a bit more, you can still get the protection you need.