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Health Insurance for Smokers

The habit of smoking has unfortunately become prevalent in our society. Smoking not only affects our health but also creates a significant impact on our finances. When it comes to health insurance plans, smokers avoid them because of fear of rejection of the application. The lifestyle and smoking habits of the insured play an important role in determining the coverage and costs. ...Read More

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Health Insurance for Smokers

Health Insurance Plans for Smokers

Health Insurance Plans for Smokers
June 28, 2024


Is Health Insurance Available for Smokers?

There is a misconception among smokers that they are not eligible for health insurance coverage because of their smoking habits. However, this is not true. There are many health insurance for smokers in India offering health coverage to smokers during health emergencies. In fact, as per IRDAI, smokers have the right to apply for health insurance policies considering the terms, conditions and costs of premiums.

The higher chances of critical illness and respiratory disease are undoubtedly why smokers have to pay more expensive premiums. Having critical illness insurance coverage is advisable if you are an active smoker. If any insurance company identifies you as a smoker, you need to undergo several medical tests before deciding the premium amount, specifically if you are 40 years old or older.

Benefits of Health Insurance for Smokers

Because of smoking, millions of people in India have lost their lives each year. Most importantly, it is not only the smoker whose health is affected but also the people around them. Too much smoking leads to critical diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), heart disease, respiratory diseases, oral cancer and others.

As smoking affects the lungs and causes cancer, smokers need to opt for appropriate health insurance plans. Here are some benefits of health insurance for smokers:

  • Financial Help to Cover Medical Costs

  • Due to excessive smoking, if a smoker is diagnosed with a critical illness, choosing a smoker's health insurance will help to provide financial support and cover all medical-related costs.

  • Cashless Hospitalization Facilities

  • A cashless hospitalisation facility lets you avail medical attention immediately without worrying about payments.

  • Health Checkups At No Cost

  • Many insurance companies conduct health checkups at no extra cost. This is an ideal way of monitoring your health and keeping your smoking habits in check.

  • Tax Benefits

  • Individual smokers are exempted from taxes of up to Rs. 25,000# on the premiums paid for health insurance under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Policyholders paying premiums for their parents, children, and spouses can claim up to Rs. 1 lakh in total deductions.

Which Health Insurance is the Best for Smokers?

To lower your chances of insurance applications getting rejected, disclose your smoking habits to the insurer. Your premium amount might be higher, but opting for the right insurance policy will cover your illness expenses without draining your savings. There are many options to choose from as many insurers provide coverage to smoking-related health conditions.

It is never too late to select a health insurance policy. It is beneficial to have apolicy with higher premiums rather than no insurance to protect your finances during emergencies. Be honest with your insurer about your smoking habits, and do not hide anything because of paying high premiums. Disclosing the truth ensures you can get financial assistance in time for yourself and your loved ones.

Why Health Insurance Is Essential for Smokers, Not Optional?

According to the World Health Organisation, 1.35 million people in India lose their lives every year due to active and passive smoking. Moreover, Indians are the second largest consumer of tobacco products in the world. This gives us an idea of how smoking adversely affects the health condition of individuals.

Thus, for smokers, health insurance is a must, and it is a necessity, not optional. The reason behind this should be known beforehand when opting for the chosen policy.

First and foremost, excessive smoking leads to health issues that might require urgent medical attention. From respiratory disease to heart disease, smokers face a lot of health problems that are expensive treatments and need careful attention. Some of the well-known diseases caused by smoking are:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Emphysema
  • Oral Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Complications in Pregnancy

These diseases require long-term treatment with huge costs. Thus, without any health insurance, the treatment cost might completely exhaust your savings. Medical expenses for smokers also include routine checkups to, any specialised treatment and proper medications. Opting for proper health insurance ensures smokers can get financial assistance without facing huge out-of-pocket costs.

Additionally, health insurance plans bring peace of mind to smokers and their loved ones. This eliminates stress and lets them focus on healing their health conditions and overcoming their addiction.

Do People Who Smoke Have to Pay More for Health Insurance?

Yes, people who smoke need to pay more for the health insurance they choose. This is so because smokers are prone to critical illnesses and shorter life expectancy. Smoking remains solely responsible for causing severe health problems.

To offset the high risk and costs of healthcare associated with smoking, a tobacco surcharge is imposed. This surcharge leads to high premium payments, sometimes even 50% more than non-smokers. Thus, the health insurance premiums for smokers are almost double than for non-smokers.

Additionally, some employers charge higher premiums to employees who are smokers. The premium is determined by considering the age of an individual smoker, the state regulation, and the kind of insurance plan they have opted for. Active smokers and those who smoke frequently have to pay higher premiums on health insurance.

How Does Smoking Impact the Amount You Pay for Health Insurance?

The impact of smoking on health insurance premiums is significant. As mentioned earlier, because of the tobacco surcharge, smokers need to pay high premiums. Alongside, they are expected to face more health issues with costly medical treatment.

The exact premium amount varies from one insurance provider to another. The number of cigarettes and other tobacco products consumed every day directly impacts the premium costs. Moreover, active smokers who have not quit smoking have to bear higher costs. Insurance companies may also require medical tests to determine a smoker’s quality of health.

Because of more premiums, it is advisable for smokers to quit smoking altogether and follow healthier lifestyles. This would allow them to pay lower health insurance premiums in the long run. Some insurance providers also offer incentives or discounts to smokers who have quit smoking successfully.

To reduce the premium amount, smokers can also search for other alternative insurance providers. Conducting thorough research, choose an affordable health insurance for smokers that charges a low premium.

How Can I Make Sure My Insurance Claims Are Settled Easily If I Smoke?

If you have not quit smoking after purchasing a health insurance plan, it is important to ensure that insurance claims are settled properly. Here is a detailed guide:

  • Firstly, you must provide your insurer honest information about your smoking habits. Failing to disclose the correct information might lead to denial of claim settlement or cancellation of the chosen policy.
  • Secondly, maintain a medical history and treatments you have gone through for smoking-related conditions. Visit the doctor regularly for health checkups for smooth settlement of claims.
  • Thirdly, go through your insurance policy document thoroughly considering its coverage and procedures for filing a claim. Keep all documents ready necessary for the claim such as medical records, receipts of medical expenses and so on.
  • Finally, if you have any doubts, communicate with your insurance provider. Submit all required documents. Maintain copies of every document you submit.

Compare the Cost of Health Insurance for Smokers With that for Non-smokers

The health insurance cost for smokers is 30% to 40% more than for non-smokers. Because smokers are prone to high-risk illnesses, active smokers must pay a higher premium.

If you have a history of consuming tobacco during the last 12 years, an insurance provider will consider you a smoker, as per the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).

Smoking poses several complicated health-related problems for which smokers need to pay a high premium. Apart from high premiums, smokers also face out-of-pocket costs for treatment. Thus, it is recommended to quit smoking to notice significant changes in premiums.

How Can Insurance Companies Know If You Smoke?

If you are an active or frequent smoker, insurance companies have several ways to figure it out:

  • To identify smokers, insurance companies may conduct medical exams and calculate the desired costs of coverage. A typical smoker consumes nicotine in any form. Thus, it's easy to find traces of nicotine in hair, urine, saliva and blood.
  • If you are dishonest with the insurance application, you will fall into trouble if you file claims and medical tests during hospitalisation to confirm that you are a smoker.
  • The insurance company has the legal right to investigate your smoking habits. Thus, to identify your smoking habits, the insurance provider may carry out urine and blood tests.

What Happens If You're a Smoker and Already Have Health Issues?

If a smoker has existing health issues such as diabetes and hypertension, the health insurance provider must ask for more medical tests to find out further health complications, if there are any.

Based on the medical reports and the critical condition of the disease, the insurance companies decide the premium amount. Additionally, there exists a waiting period of 1-4 years. This period is the same for both smokers and non-smokers, but there are certain conditions excluded for smokers.

What Occurs If You Provide False Information About Smoking on Health Insurance Forms?

Providing false information about smoking on health insurance forms will be considered fraud and might lead to several consequences. The insurer might deny claims, and thereafter, you will be responsible for covering all medical-related costs. Alongside, hiding relevant information on smoking might put you in legal trouble. The insurance companies can find out your smoking habits through medical examinations and thus have the authority to reject your claims or your health insurance plan.

How to Get Healthier and Reduce Health Insurance Costs?

To avoid higher premiums for health insurance, smokers can follow some useful tips to get healthier and reduce their costs. These are:

  • Quit Smoking

  • If you end up quitting smoking for at least 2 years from the date of application, health insurance companies will consider you a non-smoker and your premium will be reduced accordingly.

  • Search for Other Insurance Companies

  • Because of increased smoking in India and complicated diseases, there are more than a few health insurance companies that offer policies at competitive premium rates for smokers. Thoroughly research and find one that offers an affordable rate when compared with others.

  • Join a Smoking Cessation Program

  • Try to quit smoking on your own. If you are unable to do so, approach any health insurance company that has tie-ups with smoking cessation programs. Enrolling in these programs will help you quit smoking with ease. But it is mandatory to reveal yourself smoke-free for at least two years to avail reduced premium.


Many insurance companies provide health insurance for smokers in India. As smoking causes cancer and other serious health-related issues, health insurance is a necessity for active smokers. Although smokers have to pay high premiums, they are still eligible for insurance coverage.

Health insurance offers comprehensive financial coverage to smokers during medical emergencies. Ultimately, it offers peace of mind and financial support to smokers who may otherwise run out of cash during times of need.

FAQs on Health Insurance for Smokers

1. Which term insurance is best for smokers?

To choose the right term insurance, smokers consider the competitive rates insurers provide with coverage. It's also important to compare quotes from providers to find the best rate.

2. How do insurance companies detect smoking?

Insurance companies can detect smokers through routine medical exams for the use of nicotine. Alongside, companies also rely on the information filed by policyholders. Health complications that occur from smoking can also be caught by medical tests conducted upon hospitalisation.

3. Who is considered a smoker?

Any individual who has used tobacco products such as cigars, pipes, cigarettes or any nicotine products recently is considered a smoker. There are some insurance companies as well who consider individuals as smokers who have consumed any nicotine products in the past 12 months.

4. Do smokers get health insurance in India?

Yes, smokers get health insurance in India, but they need to pay a higher premium amount when compared with any non-smoker.

5. What if I start smoking after taking health insurance?

If you start smoking after taking a new health insurance policy, it stays active throughout the period. However, you must disclose the new lifestyle change to the insurer.

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Francis Rodrigues Francis Rodrigues

Francis Rodrigues has a decade long experience in the insurance sector, and as SVP, E-Commerce and Digital Marketing, HDFC Life, manages the online sales channel, as well as digital and performance marketing. He has had hands-on experience in setting up sales channels and functional teams from scratch over a career spanning 2 decades.

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Author Profile Written By:
Vishal Subharwal Vishal Subharwal

Vishal Subharwal heads the Strategy, Marketing, E-Commerce, Digital Business & Sustainability initiatives at HDFC Life. He is responsible for crafting and ensuring successful implementation of the overall organisation strategy.

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