Wicklow’s 19,800+ smokers pay double for life insurance due to health risks

January is a time when many people set new health goals, and those who smoke might decide that this year they will give up the bad habit once and for all. Experts at Royal London are advising smokers in Wicklow who are considering quitting, that they could be further incentivised by the fact that those who successfully quit smoking in January 2021, may now be able to substantially reduce the cost of their life insurance premiums. New figures from the leading protection specialist highlight how much of a difference smoking can make to the cost of life cover; with smokers expecting to pay twice as much for life insurance when compared with non-smokers.

Philip McGoldrick of Royal London in Wicklow, commented,

“The national average of people smoking is 18% which equates to 19,828 people in Wicklow*. We want to let all these people know that they could reap huge financial benefits if they manage to quit the habit.

“Each year thousands of people throughout Ireland aim to give up smoking, with the beginning of a new year seen by many as the perfect time to jumpstart their health goals. While we all know that quitting smoking isn’t easy, the Healthy Ireland report** shows the prevalence of smoking in Ireland is reducing as more people successfully go tobacco-free. Beyond the physical health advantages of this, people can reap significant financial benefits too. It’s common enough to hear stories of people saving up the money from not buying cigarettes over a year and motivating themselves by allocating it towards a car or holiday. But a less commonly-known motivational factor is the thousands in savings that can potentially be made on their life cover.”

The Costs

Recent cost analysis from Royal London reveals the difference in premiums paid between non-smokers and smokers.

Royal London Cost Analysis

Level Term Assurance Life Cover of €300,000 ^

AgeTerm (years)Monthly premium non-smokerMonthly premium smokerSavings over 25-year term
3525€24.58€44.80€6,066.00
4525€54.78€115.71€18,279.00

Specified Serious Illness Cover of €300,000 ^

AgeTerm (years)Monthly premium non-smokerMonthly premium smokerSavings over 25-year term
3525€114.39€188.45€22,218.00
4525€278.78€506.72€68,382.00

Speaking about the cost analysis, Mr. McGoldrick said,

“The price differential here is quite substantial. Our experience is that, while many people expect smokers to pay more in premiums, many don’t realise how much more it adds up to over the lifetime of the policy. For example, a smoker turning 45 on their next birthday will pay over €18,000 more in premiums than a non-smoker will for €300,000 worth of Level Term Life Cover over a 25-year period. The same smoker can expect to pay over €68,000 more than a non-smoker for a Specified Serious Illness policy worth €300,000 over a 25-year term.

The Age Factor

Royal London wants to highlight the issue particularly for those smokers aged between 45 – 54 years, which according to latest Healthy Ireland** survey is now the age cohort with the highest proportion of smokers (24%).

Mr. McGoldrick continued,

In Wicklow alone, there are approximately 20,130 adults in 45–54-year age group*, which would mean an estimated 4,800 of these people smoke.”

Mr. McGoldrick concluded,

“There is an overall trend in Ireland of less people smoking which of course, is positive. It shows that the Government’s campaigns to reduce the number of people smoking seem to be working.

“If you’re someone who successfully gave up smoking more than 12 months ago and already have life cover in place, you could potentially get a reduction in the cost of your policy premiums.”

If you wish to be re-categorised as a non-smoker for life insurance purposes, you must not have used any tobacco products in the last 12 months and have no intention to use any in the future. This includes e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement products such as patches or chewing gum. As well as providing some health-related information, it’s possible that your insurance provider may ask you to complete a cotinine test (smoker test). This is a simple test which involves screening a sample of saliva or urine for tobacco use.

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