If you smoke, you may wonder whether you can get life insurance at all, let alone at a reasonable rate. You can!

Life insurance for smokers doesn’t always break the bank. You can still get coverage with a low premium if you know where to look and the requirements for smokers with different insurance companies.

life insurance for smokers

Here’s everything you need to know to get cheap life insurance as a smoker in 2020.

How Much More Do Life Insurance Companies Charge for Smokers?

Life insurance for smokers typically costs much more than it does for non-smokers. Smokers may pay up to 350% more for life insurance, depending on the coverage amount and company.

Even if you are in otherwise good health, insurance companies consider you a higher risk as a smoker, due to the potential health problems associated with smoking. If you’re an older smoker, the premium rates only go up.

The cost of your coverage still depends on factors like your family history and your coverage amount.

However, as a smoker, you’ll see a significant difference in premiums on the same policy for smokers vs. non-smokers.

For example, if you’re in your 30s and you want to purchase a $500,000 life insurance policy, you could pay over $1,000 more per year in premiums as a smoker.

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How Does Life Insurance Define Smokers?

When a life insurance company asks if you smoke, you may think they only mean tobacco.

However, if you smoke something other than tobacco, you may still fall into the smoker category based on the company’s criteria.

Insurance may also consider you a smoker if you use tobacco without smoking it.

Life insurance companies will consider your smoking status differently based on the following forms of smoking and tobacco use.

Chewing Tobacco

You may know the risks of smoking cigarettes, but chewing tobacco presents its own potential health problems.

While smoking tobacco increases your risk of lung cancer and other types of lung disease, chewing tobacco means a 50% higher chance of oral cancer.

Chewing tobacco also has a high concentration of nicotine, equal to about 60 cigarettes.

Therefore, even if you don’t smoke tobacco, insurance companies still see you as a higher risk, especially as chewing tobacco is more difficult to quit.

Not all life insurance companies consider tobacco chewers the same as smokers.

Make sure to research different providers to see who offers lower rates and check their premiums for smokers and tobacco users.

Cigars

While you may only smoke cigars occasionally, they still contain tobacco. That means insurance providers include them when they ask you if you smoke.

Many people smoke cigars differently than they would smoke a cigarette. Instead of fully inhaling the smoke, they pull the smoke into their mouths and then exhale to avoid breathing it in.

However, that means your lips, teeth, tongue, and the entire area inside your mouth is still exposed to tobacco, leading to health risks like oral cancer.

Whether you smoke little cigars or cigarillos, it doesn’t matter to insurance companies.

Your provider will see that you risk cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and other issues that come with smoking tobacco in any capacity.

Nicotine Gum/Patch

It may seem like wearing a nicotine patch or chewing nicotine gum would put you in a better position with insurance companies, but it’s the opposite.

When your provider sees a patch or gum, they may see you trying to quit, but they will also know that patches and gum still contain nicotine.

Because nicotine still enters your body, you still have health risks like heart disease despite that you don’t smoke or chew it. Insurance companies may then raise your premiums on that basis.

At the same time, not all insurance companies equate nicotine patches and gum with smoking tobacco.

Make sure you research different providers to understand their tobacco consumption rates, as you may find some with more lenient policies on nicotine gum and patch use.

Vaping and E-Cigarettes

As with chewing tobacco and nicotine patches, rates for people who vape and use e-cigarettes vary between life insurance companies.

Because vaping poses a lower health risk than smoking cigarettes, many insurance companies classify it separately.

However, this distinction does not necessarily mean you qualify as a non-smoker or that you will permanently.

For example, Prudential previously classified vapers as non-smokers. They have recently changed that designation to include people who vape and use e-cigarettes as smokers, in light of information that shows health conditions connected to vaping.

Marijuana Smokers

If you smoke marijuana, you should do plenty of research when you want to buy life insurance. Marijuana does not carry the same health risks as tobacco.

However, some insurance companies still raise their premiums, especially for recreational users.

Other companies will allow non-smoker coverage if you use medicinal marijuana.

Before you commit to a policy, understand your provider’s rules for smoking classifications. You may be able to get better coverage and rates elsewhere.

Best Life Insurance Rates for Smokers

The best life insurance for smokers depends on your smoking habits.

Almost all insurance companies will raise your rates if you are a smoker, but they won’t all raise them the same amount or based on the same factors.

Northwestern Mutual offers some of the best rates for smokers, along with Banner and TransAmerica.

Prudential may have raised their premiums for vapers, but you may get a lower rate if you chew tobacco or use a nicotine patch, as opposed to smoking.

If you plan to quit smoking, or if you are currently trying to quit, you can consider other options. Most life insurance companies will classify you as a non-smoker if you have not smoked within the last 12 to 24 months.

You might want to wait to purchase your policy, but that’s not always an option, and some insurance companies offer other solutions.

If you need life insurance now, short term life insurance for smokers offers coverage without the commitment to pay the same premiums for the next twenty years.

Some companies also offer health class reconsiderations. In these cases, if you quit smoking, you can qualify as a non-smoker if you stop at least one year prior.

Not all insurance companies offer these options. Before you purchase a policy, ask the provider about their rules for smokers.

That way, you can prepare and understand if your premiums will adjust based on your smoking status.

INSURANCE WHERE YOU LIVE

Life insurance by state.

Try No-Exam Life Insurance for Smokers

When you need life insurance immediately, consider no-exam life insurance for smokers.

This type of life insurance may not offer you the same coverage you would get with an exam, but you have this option if you can’t get coverage with an exam.

cheap life insurance for smokers

No-exam life insurance usually offers a smaller death benefit, but you can get both whole and term life insurance for smokers.

You’ll likely pay more for no exam insurance, as your provider can’t confirm your health situation through tests.

With no-exam life insurance, you receive coverage faster than if you purchase a policy that requires an exam.

Your provider doesn’t have to wait for your exam results, and while they will still ask questions about your health, they can process your application more quickly.

No-exam life insurance does not guarantee coverage approval, as some knockout conditions may still prevent you from getting a policy.

However, if smoking proves your most significant barrier to getting coverage with an exam, you can get better coverage this way.

Don’t Lie on Your Application about Smoking

Whether you opt for no-exam life insurance or take an exam required by the insurance company, lying about smoking on life insurance won’t work in your favor.

A medical exam will show nicotine and other chemicals related to smoking through blood tests.

While you may think you can quit smoking for a period before you apply and have your exam, nicotine can linger in your body for months.

If you lie about smoking, assume your life insurance provider will find out at some point.

Additionally, while you may hide your smoking status, your insurance company can learn after your death that you smoked.

This information can mean your beneficiaries don’t get a death benefit, leaving them to cover your end-of-life costs out of pocket, even if you spent years paying premiums.

THE SIMPLY INSURANCE WAY

Life Insurance made easy.

Agents not required.

Get quotes and sign up online without talking to an agent. But, we are here if you need us. 

Unbiased, expert advice.

Get unbiased insurance education from licensed experts and also avoid dodgy sales calls.

Coverage in minutes.

You can get life insurance coverage within minutes of getting your quotes and applying.

Does Smoking Void a Life Insurance Policy?

While smoking does not void your life insurance policy, it can complicate things for you or your beneficiaries.

You may have purchased your policy as a non-smoker and started smoking later, which isn’t the same as lying on your application.

In this case, you provided truthful information, and you may not have smoked long enough for long-term health risks from smoking to affect you.

At the same time, when you started smoking can affect your life insurance policy and premiums.

If you start smoking during the contestability period—typically one year after an insurance company has approved your application—the company can investigate your policy.

This investigation can result in increased rates, among other changes to your coverage.

If you die of smoking-related causes when you have a policy as a non-smoker, your insurance company might suspect fraud.

The company may then deny the full or partial death benefit, especially if they find proof of long-term smoking.

The designation between whole and term life insurance for smokers matters here, too. Your policy doesn’t expire with whole life insurance, and you’re covered as long as you pay your premiums.

However, with term life insurance, if you started smoking after purchasing your initial policy, you’ll have to renew or buy a new policy as a smoker.

This new policy will cost more, as you’ll fall under a new designation. You’ll also be older, which increases your premiums even further.

How Long After You Quit Are You Considered a Non-Tobacco User?

Most insurance companies require you to quit smoking at least 12 months before applying for life insurance to be considered a non-tobacco user.

That includes quitting chewing tobacco and not wearing a nicotine patch or using nicotine gum.

Your exam results must show a complete absence of nicotine in your body for your insurance company to consider you a non-smoker.

It can take several months for nicotine to leave your body, so even if you’ve quit smoking for six months, that may not be long enough.

Some insurance companies have more stringent rules regarding smoking. They may require you to quit smoking at least 24 months prior to applying for life insurance.

Others, like John Hancock Life Insurance, may offer you a discount if you intend to quit and show progress toward your goal.

Even if you consider yourself an occasional smoker, life insurance companies may not.

Some will let you qualify as a non-smoker if you smoke less than one cigarette or cigar per month. Others classify you as a tobacco user if you smoke at all.

INSURANCE WHERE YOU LIVE

Life insurance by state.

What About Life Insurance for Former Smokers?

If you haven’t smoked for over a year, you may qualify for a lower life insurance premium.

Life insurance for ex-smokers may cost slightly more than it would for a non-smoker, but your rates become considerably lower as a former smoker.

For example, the premiums for a 35-year-old former smoker purchasing a $500,000 10-year policy can cost approximately $40 less per month than a current smoker’s policy. For a 30-year policy, it can mean a difference of $100 per month.

If you are a former smoker who hasn’t smoked for over 12 months when you apply for coverage, you present a lower risk for insurance companies, and companies are more likely to offer you lower premiums despite your former tobacco use.

Taking Action

As a smoker, you risk higher premiums due to the potential health issues that accompany smoking.

While that doesn’t mean you can’t get life insurance, it does mean that you should weigh your options and research companies that offer life insurance for smokers.

If you have questions about the life insurance coverage you can get as a smoker or which companies offer the best rates, feel free to ask in the comments below.


Aten-Re El

About the author

Aten-Re El is a Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Simply Insurance as well as a licensed life & health insurance agent with over 11 years of experience. Aten-Re is responsible for the daily operations of Simply Insurance and building and procuring strong client relationships with our insurance partners.


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