There is a significant correlation between smoking and a variety of health problems. Because of this, smokers tend to find their insurance rates are much higher than non-smokers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014, 16.8 percent of U.S. adults reported that they smoked. Here at QuoteWizard, our goal is to help people who smoke find the best and most cost-effective life insurance.
Q: Can I get life insurance if I smoke cigarettes or use tobacco products?
A: You can definitely still get life insurance—you’ll just have to pay a bit more because of the negative health effects and shorter life expectancy resulting from smoking.
Insurance is a business that operates on risk—and the higher the risk, the higher the rates. Because smoking comes with many risk factors, insurers will raise your rates.
However, don’t fret because there are still ways to protect your family financially, and at an affordable price. One way to get the lowest rates possible is to compare life insurance quotes for smokers.
Q: How much more do smokers pay for life insurance than non-smokers?
A: Insurers use a universal ranking system when determining how much your policy will cost. There are different categories they will place you in depending on your medical history and risk profile. In order from the most desirable to the least, they are:
- Preferred Select. This is typically someone who is in tip-top shape and has minimal family history of serious health problems.
- This is someone who is in good health but might have minor issues such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.
- Standard Plus. If you are in good health besides being overweight and out of shape then you would fall in this category.
- This is if you are average in terms of your health. Maybe you overweight and have a history of illness in your family.
- Preferred Smoker. You are in great shape and have good family history despite the fact that you smoke.
- Standard Smoker. This is a category for someone who is of standard health but smokes.
If someone doesn’t fit into any of these categories, underwriters will use a rating table and give you a letter or number rating. Based on your rating, you will have to pay an additional percentage on top of your premium each month.
Because smokers have the lowest rank on the rate chain, they will have to pay more for life insurance. On average, smokers pay anywhere from 40 to 100 percent more for life insurance than their counterparts.
Despite this, there ways you can bypass the high cost. For example, you may look into quitting smoking altogether.
You may also want to compare rates from different companies. All insurers calculate rates a little differently. Some will charge more than others depending on your particular set of circumstances. That's why it's so important to compare life insurance quotes instead of taking the first offer you get.
Q: Why do smokers pay more for life insurance than non-smokers?
A: As stated above, smokers are associated with being “riskier” clients than non-smokers. That’s because statistics show smoking to cause an abundance of health problems that result in a shorter life expectancy.
According to the CDC, smoking causes nearly one in five deaths in the United States each year. It can cause coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer, birth defects, and many other health issues.
The bottom line is that there is a higher risk of death. This, in turn, presents a greater chance of the insurer having to pay out a claim to the deceased’s beneficiaries.
So they don’t go bankrupt from paying out smoking-related claims, they will just charge higher premiums to smokers.
Q: What happens if I lie about smoking to my life insurance company?
A: First of all, it will be quite difficult to do so for a few reasons. The first is because when you apply for a life insurance policy, you are usually required to get a medical exam.
Most adjusters will have you take blood, saliva, and/or urine tests which can detect nicotine or cotinine in your system. These are two of the many chemicals found in tobacco products. And if you apply for a policy that doesn’t require a test, you’ll most likely find yourself with higher rates and/or lower death benefits.
Some people might think they can “cheat” by abstaining from smoking just long enough for the chemicals to go undetected in a bodily fluid test. Experts will advise against this because if you end up dying from smoking related causes, insurers might reject your claims and your beneficiaries may not receive a full payout.
Even if you don’t die of smoking related causes and your autopsy results show nicotine and cotinine, your carrier can deny your claim.
Oddly enough, if you start smoking after your carrier issues you a policy, they won’t hold you accountable if you die of smoking related causes. However, most people who start smoking start before the age of 18 so this is a rarity.
Q: Can I be denied life insurance if I smoke?
A: Some insurance companies will deny you coverage if you smoke. Each company has their own protocol and qualifications you must meet in order to purchase a policy. Some frown upon smokers and even turn them away.
Q: Can your life insurance company cancel your policy if they find out that you smoke?
A: It’s very unlikely that an insurer would cancel your policy if they find out you’re a smoker. They will probably just increase your premium rates. However, providing false information about smoking is a different story.
There is something called a two year contestability period where insurers can cancel your plan, increase your rates, or deny claims if they rightfully accuse you of insurance fraud.
If you didn’t disclose that you smoke, or you start smoking, you’ll want to notify your insurer. This will help you to avoid monetary complications and family heartache if your insurer catches you, or you pass away.
Q: How long should I wait after quitting smoking to apply for life insurance?
A: Most insurers require you to wait 12 months before applying to a policy. They’ll classify you as a non-smoker again, after this period. From there, you’ll be able to find much better rates.
However, some insurers consider a non-smoker as someone who hasn’t smoked in more than a few years. Experts advise to check with your insurer and see how they classify one as a smoker.
Q: Do light smokers pay less for life insurance than heavy smokers?
A: No, once a smoker always a smoker to an insurance company. It doesn’t matter if you smoke a few cigarettes a week, or two packs a day—you will still probably be charged higher premiums.
Still, there are a few exceptions such as if you smoke celebratory cigars a few times a year. Check with your agent first though, because different companies have different rules about this. If they do end up increasing your rates, feel free to shop around for a better deal.
Q: Do life insurance companies treat e-cigarettes the same as regular tobacco cigarettes?
A: Life insurance companies tend to classify (electronic) e-cigarettes in the same category as regular cigarettes. There are a few different reasons why.
One is because when you get a life insurance policy, you get a medical exam and they test for the chemicals found in tobacco. If they find that your blood, saliva, or urine contains cotinine or nicotine, they will just assume you’re a smoker and might not take the time to figure out if its cigarettes or e-cigarettes your smoking.
Another reason is because you are essentially inhaling heated-up chemicals with an electronic cigarette. There isn’t a lot of research on this practice because it is so new but many believe it can be just as carcinogenic as inhaling a cigarette.
Using any tobacco product consistently such as cigars, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, nicotine patches, and nicotine gum can all raise your rates. The amount will vary by type of substance, and the company that insures you. For more information on this, check out our article on 8 Things to Know about Tobacco Use and Life Insurance.
Q: How do I find the cheapest life insurance for smokers?
A: You’ve probably heard this before but the best way to find affordable rates is to shop around and compare quotes. Different companies use different underwriting formulas that they use to determine your premiums.
One company may only provide cheaper rates if you have been tobacco free for over two years, but another will be alright with just 12 months. Maybe one company treats e-cigarettes differently than cigarettes. It can only help, and can’t hurt, to shop around.
If you don’t know where to start, feel free to fill out our free life insurance quote request form and get matched with some of the best companies in the industry.
It’s important to keep in mind that even though it might seem economical to choose the cheapest or most affordable policy, you want to make sure it meets your needs. Make sure to read the fine print and that there aren’t any exclusions you weren’t aware of. For example, maybe you tried quitting smoking to get a cheaper policy, but have only been smoke-free for 12 months when the company requires 24.
Make sure to also do your research on whether term or whole life policies are better for you. Term only protects you for a fixed period of time, and whole life is for life. However, whole life is much more expensive. Tack the cost of smoking on top and your rates could be through the roof.
This is why it’s so important to shop around, read the policy exclusions and guidelines thoroughly, and comprehensively understand the type of plan you want to purchase.
For an overview of the different types of life insurance plans available, read our article on Life Insurance Basics.
Q: What are the best life insurance companies for smokers?
A: There is no one best insurance company for all smokers. This depends on what kind of smoker you are, your family history, among many other factors. No two people are the same, which is why there are so many insurance companies and policies to choose from.
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