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More than one in ten 45-54 year olds have been economical with the truth about their smoking or drinking habits to get cheaper life insurance

  • More women than men have struggled to get life cover due to a health issue
  • People risk having life claims turned down if they’re not upfront with insurers

One in fourteen (7%) people have been economical with the truth in relation to their smoking and drinking habits in the hope that they’d secure cheaper life or serious illness insurance by doing so.

This is according to the findings of a new survey by Peopl Insurance of 1000 adults nationwide.

Headline findings from the survey, which examined people’s experience of, and approach to, life insurance, reveal that while by and large, people are truthful when applying for life insurance, some have not been completely upfront. The survey also found that more than one in 20 (6%) of those who sought life or serious illness cover have struggled to get the insurance due to a health issue, with women (10%) and those aged 25 to 34 (9%) most likely to struggle in this regard.

Commenting on the survey findings, Paul Walsh, CEO of Peopl Insurance said:

The numbers aren’t huge, but there is definitely a cohort of people who knowingly do not declare, or underestimate their smoking and/or drink levels to get cheaper cover. While not altogether surprising, it is ill-advised at best”.

“Research shows that smokers can pay twice as much for life insurance as their non-smoking counterpart due to the increased health risks which come with smoking. Bad drinking habits, such as problem drinking or a recent history of alcohol abuse, can also make it more difficult or expensive to get life insurance and indeed in some cases, you might even be declined cover”.

“However, even if you manage to get cheaper life cover by failing to disclose or to be fully upfront about your smoking or drinking habits, doing so could see you or your family lose out on a claim down the line. Providing inaccurate information when applying for life insurance can lead to the cancellation of your policy and the rejection of claims. An insurer can investigate any claim made and if it discovers for example that a policyholder was smoking while paying the lower premiums of a non-smoker, it can refuse the claim. This could see a family lose out on a valuable and much-needed lump sum on the death of a loved one. It is very important to be honest and upfront with insurers when applying for life insurance.”

Other highlights from the Peopl Insurance survey include:

  • Almost four times as many women (10%) as men (2.5%) have struggled to get life or serious illness insurance due to a health issue.
  • One in five (20%) people have never looked to get life or serious illness insurance – this jumps to three in 10 (31%) for those aged 25-34.
  • Twice as many working class (25%) as middle class (14%) said they have never looked to buy either life or serious illness.
  • Where people tell some untruths about their habits in order to get cheaper life or serious illness cover, it’s more likely to be around smoking habits than drinking habits.
  • Men are more likely than women to underestimate their drinking and smoking so they can get a cheaper quote for life or serious illness cover.
  • Those aged between 45 and 54 are most likely to be dishonest about their drinking and smoking with one in ten (11%) of this age cohort saying they had underdeclared their drinking or smoking habits compared to only 3pc of those aged 55+ and 2pc of those aged between 18 and 24.

Mr Walsh added

Some people never give life insurance a second thought – as evidenced by the fact that one in five people have never looked to get life or serious illness insurance. The recent Census 2022 results found that there was a significant drop in the proportion of people who reported their health was good or very good since 2016. In addition, Ireland now has one of the highest excess mortality rates in the EU, according to recent Eurostat figures. In light of these figures, we I believe more work needs to be done to educate people about the benefits of life insurance and the financial protection it affords people and their families.

Of course, affordability is always going to be a barrier to people. But in my experience people overestimate the cost of taking out this form of cover. My advice to people is always to at least look into their options – get a quote – only then can you make an informed decision as to whether you should, and indeed can afford to, take out life insurance.”