A smoker can find it particularly difficult to apply for affordable insurance, even if they've already quit or are not smoking cigarettes.
Depending on your nicotine use or the time that has passed since you've quit, you may get very different quotes, or even qualify for traditional life insurance!
If you're a smoker, read on for more information about how smoking affects your life insurance rate, and which policy may be best for your present condition.
How Does Smoking Affect Your Life Insurance Rates?
Life expectancy is the basis for computing your life insurance rates. Simply put, the longer you are expected to live, the lower your premiums will be. Smokers have a higher risk of developing certain health issues such as heart disease, so life insurance companies consistently charge them higher premiums – hence the term "smoker rates".
Smoker life insurance premiums can be as much as 40% to 100% higher than a non-smoker's rates. In some of the worst cases, insurance rates can go as high as 300% more for a smoker, despite being in good health.
What Do Life Insurance Companies Consider “Smoking”?
Cigarettes are what first come to mind when people think of smoking, but your life insurance company may consider different nicotine products to count as smoking. Here are some tobacco products or smoking devices which can have you flagged for tobacco use:
E-cigarettes (aka vaping devices)
Nicotine replacement items, such as patches, gum, inhalers, and sprays
Before you file insurance applications, ask the prover for information about their underwriting policies for these products. This will give you a better look at how your use will affect your life policy rates, and which company will be more flexible towards your habits.
How Long Do You Have To Quit To Be Considered A Non-Smoker For Insurance?
Generally, most life insurance providers will require you to be smoke-free for at least 12 months before you can be considered a non-smoker. If you're a smoker who recently quit, talk to your insurer to find out how long you'll have to be smoke-free before getting your policy rates re-evaluated.
What If You Don’t Want To Undergo A Medical Exam?
If you don't want to undergo a medical examination, you can still get whole life insurance coverage through certain policy types. Here are three options that provide life insurance for smokers without requiring a medical exam.
Simplified Issue Life Insurance
This is a type of life insurance that will investigate your medical history via a questionnaire instead of a medical exam. It will allow you to get covered faster, and your coverage will start from the time that your application is accepted and a premium rate is set. You'll be charged higher rates than the usual term life or whole life policy, but it offers higher death benefit payouts.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance
Guaranteed issue policies are a good life insurance choice for smokers because they offer whole life insurance coverage without asking you to take a medical exam or answer a health questionnaire. Also known as a "no questions asked" policy, it comes with a specific condition: that you survive a specific waiting period. If you die within that waiting period, your beneficiaries won't receive your death benefit.
While guaranteed issue policies also have lower death benefits, they're a great form of life insurance for smokers who wouldn't qualify for traditional policies.
Group Life Insurance
Your employer may provide group life insurance for your workplace. This offers the benefit of not requiring a medical examination and providing coverage either for free or at minimal cost as a work perk. However, it has limited and low coverage ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. It's a solid choice for those who would otherwise be denied life insurance, and you can sometimes opt to supplement the policy for added coverage.
The Best Life Insurance Companies For Smokers
Different companies have different policies when it comes to evaluating smokers. Virtually all life insurance companies will charge higher premiums to those who have been smoking cigarettes in the last 12 months. However, they will often offer different rates depending on their policy towards tobacco products that aren't cigarettes, such as nicotine patches or vapes. Here are some of the best life insurance providers for smokers, listed because of their flexibility towards these products.
Lincoln has a TermAccel policy that doesn't require medical examinations if you don't use tobacco, which is a major benefit for marijuana users. Additionally, marijuana users who do smoke can get better rates from Lincoln than other companies.
Brighthouse has a SimplySelect policy. It's a level-term product that can provide immediate coverage with no medical exam, and provide a death benefit for a period of 10, 20, or 30 years. Marijuana smokers can enjoy coverage at competitive rates under this policy, making it a top choice for users who don't want to be charged the rates for smokers.
Prudential Life Insurance
Prudential offers some of the best rates for those with many underlying health problems, including former tobacco users and marijuana users. While healthier applicants are better off looking elsewhere, Prudential will give excellent coverage and rates for those who've quit or are using marijuana.
FAQs About Life Insurance For Smokers
How does smoking cannabis affect your life insurance rates?
It will depend on your insurer. While some companies consider marijuana use to be the same as smoking tobacco, others do not and will even give marijuana smokers the same life insurance quotes as non-smokers. What matters more to insurers across the board is the frequency of smoking cannabis, and if it's related to any underlying health issues.
Regardless of your frequency of use or its purpose, you should disclose your drug usage when applying for life insurance coverage. THC, the active compound in marijuana, will be detected during your medical exam, so if you're caught giving false information, you could be reported to the Medical Information Board and denied coverage by other insurance providers.
What if I don’t disclose my smoking habits to the life insurance company?
If you don't disclose your tobacco use, a life insurance company can still find out about your smoking through a medical exam. During the medical exam, they will take samples of your blood and urine and test them for cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine consumption that reveals if you use tobacco. Apart from a medical examination, your life insurance agent may find out about your tobacco use through any of these methods:
Any past whole and term life insurance applications, to see if your answers are inconsistent.
Social media accounts – insurance carriers are increasingly turning to online evidence of any activity or behavior that can affect your insurance rates.
Records of past or present prescriptions, which will reveal information about using nicotine replacement items for quitting smoking.
Your doctor's records. It's routine for companies to request your medical records when you apply for life insurance, so any nicotine use will show up here.
Will I be considered a smoker if I’ve had a couple of cigarettes in the past year?
Yes. Because even occasional smoking makes you more likely to become a regular smoker over time, you will be charged the same rates for smokers when you apply for life insurance policies.
What if I start smoking after I get my life insurance policy?
If you already took out a whole life or term life insurance policy before you started smoking, you'll continue to enjoy non-smoker rates for your premiums. Once you've taken out a policy, the life insurance company can't raise your rates anymore. This is a risk that an insurer is willing to take since the odds of starting smoking after you turn 18 are fairly low.
What if I quit smoking after I get my life insurance policy?
If you were a smoker when your life insurance application was granted, and have since quit, you may be able to get your rates lowered. Many companies require that you have quit smoking for at least a year before you can enjoy nonsmoker rates.
Ask your provider how long you have to quit before you may be able to get evaluated for a lower rate. If you meet the life insurance company's threshold period, you'll have to undergo a new medical exam. While this means they'll get proof that you've quit smoking, this examination will also uncover any other health conditions you've developed since your policy approval, so think before you ask for your policy to be reevaluated!
Finding the best whole or term life insurance policies can be tricky if you're a smoker. If you want to get life insurance coverage, consult a financial adviser to find out what policies will give you the best death benefit and cash value. If you need a helping hand, get in touch with Wesley Insurance, LLC – we'll find out which insurer will provide the most affordable life insurance option for you.