How Chewing Tobacco Affects Your Life Insurance

    All You Need To Know

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    Most people know that smoking can greatly increase your life insurance premiums, but you may not realize other types of tobacco use are just as likely to affect your rates. This means smokeless tobacco chewers will probably run into the same hurdles as smokers in the application process.

    This guide will help to dispel the confusion around smokeless tobacco. We’ll outline how insurance companies view tobacco use, how it can affect life insurance, and what you can do to find the best policies for a smokeless tobacco user.

    Insurance And Smokeless Tobacco

    Many tobacco chewers prefer smokeless nicotine products for a few reasons: taste, convenience, and the perception that it’s safer than actually smoking tobacco. However, studies have shown that the absence of smoke doesn’t mitigate the health risks associated with tobacco products in general. Because of this, insurance companies evaluate tobacco chewers in the same way that they would evaluate smokers. 

    Life insurance companies assess every applicant based on their life expectancy. Because smokeless tobacco products carry the same health risks as cigarettes, most companies don’t distinguish between the two. That means tobacco chewers, despite not actually smoking any cigarettes, may still end up paying smoker rates on their life insurance policies.

    How Chewing Tobacco Can Affect Life Insurance Rates

    It’s common knowledge that providers charge higher life insurance rates for smokers compared to their non-smoker counterparts. If you’re looking for the best possible policy, understanding how chewing tobacco use affects your life insurance rates is essential.

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    Frequency Over Method

    A typical tobacco chewer might assume that their life insurance company is mostly concerned with the consumption of nicotine products. One of the more important factors, however, is a person’s frequency of cigarette or chewing tobacco use. 

    Whether tobacco users prefer smoking or smokeless products, the possibility of receiving non-smoker rates depends on how often a person smokes. For example, let’s say someone a 35-year-old male looking to get a 20-year policy makes it a habit to chew tobacco every single day. His life insurance company will likely charge him significantly more than a tobacco chewer that indulges once or twice a month. 

    Chewing Tobacco Shows Up On A Medical Exam

    The number one way tobacco usage can affect your coverage is during the underwriting stage of the life insurance application process. Insurers require medical exams and documents that may reveal a history of chewing tobacco or general nicotine use. A life insurance company does this to weed out applicants that may be withholding information to secure non-smoker rates. 

    Life insurance companies may require the following documents:

    • Doctors’ records
    • Pharmaceutical databases
    • Past life and health insurance applications
    • Social media posts

    Higher Risk, Higher Premiums

    Premiums on life insurance policies are determined by several factors, such as your age, your policy riders, and the amount of coverage you’re hoping to qualify for. Beyond a policyholder’s basic information, life insurance companies also take a client’s “lifestyle” choices into consideration. This usually covers the applicant’s hobbies plus their alcohol or nicotine consumption.

    Given this, it’s important to note that every life insurer makes decisions based on the perceived risks of insuring an applicant. Users who engage in extreme sports, have a pilot’s license or chew tobacco are much more likely to pay greater sums in premiums.

    This is because insurance carriers assume they’ll have to pay out life insurance policies much earlier (and earn less from premiums) when insuring a risky individual. Therefore, they set higher premiums to offset losses caused by early death benefit payouts. 

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    How To Find The Best Life Insurance For Tobacco Chewers

    Regular smokers can’t get non-tobacco user rates. However, people that prefer to chew tobacco might be able to get a good life insurance policy with a bit of research and the right insurance agents. 

    Use An Independent Insurance Agent

    Life insurers all have different considerations and internal protocols that may affect your chewing tobacco rates. Contacting individual life insurance companies can be tedious and take too much time, so you should consider using an independent insurance agent to find the best whole life or term life insurance for you.

    Unlike captive agents, independent professionals have access to dozens of insurance policies from different life insurance carriers. They are usually quite well-versed in the life insurance application process for smokers and non-tobacco users. Independent agents can also help you secure the lowest possible rates despite the health risks of chewing tobacco. 

    No-Exam Life Insurance

    If chewing tobacco is a habit you just can’t quit, there are still quite a few life insurance options available. For example, a life insurance company may have policies that require no medical exam and have fixed rates for all policyholders. Rates on these plans may not be as low as non-tobacco smoker rates, but they’re usually cheaper for tobacco users compared to policies that require a medical exam. 

    Group Life Insurance

    Some companies may offer their employee's group life insurance, which doesn’t separate applicants into smoker or non-smoker categories. This means that, unlike other plans, chewing tobacco won’t have any bearing on how much you end up paying on your premiums. 

    However, group life insurance is less permanent than other types of life plans. When employees leave their companies, their life insurance coverage can’t go with them.

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    Have Your Current Policy Re-Evaluated

    Life insurance companies often incentivize quitting smoking or chewing tobacco, which means that your premiums can be adjusted under certain circumstances. However, to qualify, the insured person must have stopped chewing tobacco and maintained this for at least 12 months. Once a policyholder applies for a re-evaluation, their insurance company will schedule a health exam before any premiums are adjusted.


    Chewing tobacco can affect your life insurance the same way smoking does: higher premiums and more complicated application processes. However, there are many options that you can explore to secure lower rates and get protection for your loved ones. 

    Connecting with financial and insurance professionals is the easiest way to achieve your goals. Contact us at Wesley Insurance, LLC to find out how we can help!

    Written By Cameron McDowell
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