Smoking has a negative impact on one’s quality of life and can lead to death, so life insurers are wary of issuing a policy to a smoker. Here’s what you need to know about life insurance for smokers.
When shopping for life insurance, there are a variety of “nicotine delivery systems” that can label you as a “smoker,” “tobacco user,” or “nicotine user.” So, what is considered smoking?
Tobacco products include vaping and e-cigarettes, bidis (thin hand-rolled cigarettes), cigars, pipes, hookahs’ chewing tobacco, snuff, nicotine replacement therapies (patches, lozenges, gum, inhalers, nose sprays), and heated tobacco products. Regular cigar smokers are usually considered smokers but many life insurers will give you a non-smoking rate if you smoke one or fewer cigars per month.
Without a doubt, smokers can qualify for life insurance, in fact, many successful life insurance applications are made for smokers, proving that it is very common. However, your smoking status will have an impact on an insurer’s decision to offer you coverage and most likely on how much you will pay for the cover of your premium.
If you smoke, your premium is likely to be higher than if you don’t, nonsmokers may pay as little as half of what a smoker would pay for the same coverage.
It is critical to be truthful with all of your answers when filling out a life insurance application. Life insurance companies have numerous methods for verifying everything you’ve stated on your application. Just like the medical exam, which typically includes blood tests and urine samples, as the primary method of verification.
These tests will reveal the presence of cotinine in your system, which is a byproduct of nicotine. Cotinine can also be found in saliva and hair, among the other ways a company could learn if you smoke or use another type of nicotine are:
Medical records: Many life insurance applications include a routine request for your medical records and a list of your past and current prescriptions. Nicotine use, such as a prescription for a smoking-cessation medication, may be detected here.
Social media: Insurance companies are increasingly searching social media sites like Facebook and Instagram for evidence of rate-influencing factors.
The length of time you’ve been a smoker and your overall health will influence the life insurance quotes you receive.
You will be asked if you smoke on all insurance proposal forms, this applies to both life and medical insurance. The insurer determines the type of risk your account poses based on the information you provide and then performs underwriting calculations accordingly.
If the insurer discovers later that you lied about your smoking habit and you die of lung cancer or a related disease, there’s a good chance your claim will be denied, reduce your insurance payout or even refuse to payout at all. On the other hand, if your insurer discovers that you lied while you are still alive, they have the right to cancel your policy, leaving you vulnerable.
Life insurance for smokers may costs more than life insurance for nonsmokers.
If you bought life insurance at a smoking rate and have now been smoke-free for at least a year, you may be able to get a better deal. You can inquire with your life insurance company about how long you must be smoke-free before being considered a non-smoker.
If the time limit has passed, you may request that the rate be reconsidered. That means you’ll need to make a new life insurance policy and redo your medical exam and have a health evaluation. If you’ve developed new medical conditions in the meantime, the new rate will take them into account as well.
If you’re a smoker who wants to quit, you won’t be able to get the best life insurance rates for at least 12 to 24 months after you’ve stopped using tobacco. In this case, the most cost-effective option may be to purchase cheaper insurance with a shorter-term policy and then purchase a longer-term policy once you’ve quit smoking for long enough to qualify for nonsmoker rates.