Many factors affect your eligibility for life insurance and the cost of your policy, including your tobacco use. When you apply for life insurance, you will be asked to report whether you smoke and, if so, what types of tobacco products you use. Because the death rate for smokers is about three times that of non-smokers, you can expect to pay a much higher life insurance premium if you use tobacco. Here’s what you need to know about getting life insurance if you currently use tobacco or have a history of smoking.
the cost of tobacco use in life insurance
According to the CDC, tobacco use is the leading cause of “preventable disease, disability, and death.” In addition, it is estimated that smoking-related diseases cost society more than $300 billion each year. life insurance providers are well aware of this and price their policies accordingly.
If you’re a smoker applying for life insurance, you can expect to pay two to three times as much for a health insurance policy as a non-smoker. however, some “smoker-friendly” insurance companies may be willing to work with you on premium rates.
types of tobacco that concern life insurance companies
To obtain life insurance, you are often required to undergo a medical exam, which may include a nicotine test. But life insurance companies don’t just test for nicotine during the exam. cotinine is an alkaloid found in the body after nicotine is metabolized, so it is an indicator of nicotine use. If you’re wondering about getting a cotinine test, life insurance providers will probably look it up.
Life insurance companies care about all types of tobacco use, including:
Life insurance underwriting classifies applicants as tobacco-related risk or no tobacco-related risk. Smokers who use cigarettes regularly are considered high risk to be insured, so you will definitely be classified as a tobacco risk if you apply for life insurance as a current cigarette smoker.
If you only smoke cigarettes on an irregular basis, some life insurance providers might be able to give you a break. but you can only smoke a few cigars a year. and some life insurers may not distinguish between occasional cigarette use and regular cigarette use.
Life insurance providers generally do not separate vaping from regular smoking. if you use e-cigarettes or vaping products, expect the provider to designate you as a smoker, just like if you used traditional tobacco.
products to quit smoking
Products that help you quit smoking, like nicotine gum and nicotine patches, still leave traces of cotinine in your body. therefore, if you use these products, you may still be classified as a tobacco risk, even if the products do not contain tobacco.
types of tobacco use that life insurance companies analyze
When applying for different types of life insurance, smoker testing is the industry standard. Although tobacco is the number one concern for life insurance companies, tobacco testing is usually not the best way to tell if someone is a smoker. instead, providers may test for cotinine.
This is what life insurance companies look at:
tobacco-based nicotine products
All tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, are considered high risk factors for life insurance providers. if you use any of these products, even occasionally, you’ll probably be placed in the tobacco user risk class, which means your premiums will be much higher than they would be if you didn’t smoke.
nicotine products without tobacco
Cotinine tests are often done by life insurance providers. That means that even if you use non-tobacco nicotine products, you will probably be placed in the risk class of tobacco users. In the eyes of life insurance providers, e-cigarettes, nicotine gum, and nicotine patches are still considered products that put you at risk of having a shorter lifespan and are therefore charges a higher fee.
marijuana is now legal in 19 states and the district of columbia. as a result, more Americans are starting to use it. If you smoke marijuana frequently, your insurance provider will most likely classify you as a smoker and you will have to pay higher rates. Insurance companies usually require a blood and urine sample to test for THC. If you only use groceries instead of smoking, you may be able to qualify for non-smoking rates, but it could be difficult to prove this to your insurance company. And your rates could still go up for recreational marijuana use, even if you’re in excellent health.
Keep in mind that medical marijuana also has the potential to affect your life insurance rates. While it’s not guaranteed that using medical marijuana will result in a higher life insurance premium, it’s a good idea to talk to your life insurance provider about your specific situation. If you use medical marijuana, you may need to submit a copy of your medical marijuana card or a note from your doctor explaining the condition you have been diagnosed with and why marijuana is part of your treatment protocol.
how long tobacco stays in your system
The tobacco test is based on a sample of blood, urine, saliva or hair. Depending on the sample used for testing, nicotine can usually be detected for a few weeks after use. however, nicotine use can occasionally be detected up to a year later with a hair test. If you’re wondering how long nicotine stays in your system, keep in mind that it could last up to 12 months.
To be considered a non-smoker for life insurance purposes, providers generally want you to be smoke-free for one year. Even if you quit smoking months ago and don’t think the insurance company can detect anything in your system, you should never lie about your smoking habits or when you quit.
If you lie about your tobacco use and the provider finds out, your life insurance policy claims will be denied, which could put your loved ones in financial jeopardy. Lying to a life insurance provider about your tobacco use could also be viewed as fraud, which could have legal ramifications. For this reason, the best policy is always to be completely honest about all health issues in the life insurance application process.
how former tobacco users can get the same rates as non-users
When you buy a new life insurance policy, the provider will probably ask if you’ve used nicotine in the last 12 months. To be considered a non-smoker for life insurance, you’ll need to be nicotine-free for at least one year.
If you already have a life insurance policy and have quit smoking, then you can ask your provider to reconsider the rate. At this point, your provider will probably order another medical exam. You also have the option to find a different provider and start fresh with a new non-smoking life insurance policy.
frequently asked questions
what is the best life insurance company?
Does secondhand smoke affect nicotine tests for life insurance?
How long do I have to quit smoking to pass a life insurance nicotine test?
how does the payment process work for life insurance beneficiaries?