Best Life Insurance Companies For Smokers – When you apply for life insurance, companies will ask you if you smoke, what kind of tobacco products you use, and how often you use them.
Depending on your personal situation, some insurance providers may ask you to undergo a medical test as part of the application process, including a nicotine test.
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To qualify for smoke-free rates, most providers will require you to be nicotine-free for at least one year.
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Most major life insurance companies consider users of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) more dangerous to insure than non-smokers. This is because there is not much research about vaping and its long-term health effects.
Insurers often treat vapers the same as smokers when deciding how much to pay for life insurance.
Chewing tobacco may affect your life insurance claim – depending on whether you use tobacco and whether you should have your health checked.
Chewing tobacco can show up in nicotine tests days or weeks after your last use. If you test positive for nicotine and cotinine (what nicotine breaks down in the body), you will be classified as a smoker and charged accordingly.
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Life insurance brokers divide applicants into two main groups: smokers and non-smokers. Every company will ask how often you smoke and what kind of smoke you use.
Some providers, however, are more flexible about classifying you as a non-smoker as long as you only occasionally consume tobacco products, such as cigarettes or a pipe every six months.
Nicotine replacement products, such as gum and patches used to stop smoking, are counted as smoking by life insurance companies.
Similar to chewing tobacco, tobacco, and cigarettes, all of these products leave traces of nicotine or cotinine in your blood and urine for more than one week and up to one month, depending on the product.
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Some insurers, however, may consider offering you non-smoking rates if you disclose the use of nicotine replacement products in your application.
If you use nicotine gum or patches, it can be especially helpful to work with an independent broker who can find you the best life insurance company and coverage product.
If you test positive for nicotine during a medical examination, you will be considered a smoker, regardless of whether it is cigarettes or a nicotine product that you use.
Some insurers classify marijuana users as tobacco users, meaning they only qualify for rates that are two to three times higher than non-smokers.
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Some life insurance companies will offer non-smoking rates and even their best rates to marijuana users, depending on how often you use marijuana. If you vape marijuana, you are more likely to be charged smoking rates.
Applicants who are in relatively good health, do not have dangerous habits, and do not engage in dangerous hobbies often receive better health classifications and affordability rates than someone who raises certain flags.
Smokers generally receive a lower health category for any tobacco use, but some providers assign a better category to occasional smokers.
Every life insurance applicant is assigned a health category during the application process. If you are a smoker who is thinking about quitting, or have recently quit smoking but are still classified as a smoker, you have options to lower the cost of life insurance in the future.
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Underwriting or reapplying one year after you quit, or after your first life insurance application is processed if you’ve already quit, may get you a better category.
Many insurers will require you to go through an underwriting process – including a medical exam – to prove that you are a non-smoker and that your health warrants the rate reduction.
When you apply for life insurance, you will be asked if you use tobacco products and when you last used them. That includes cigarettes, vaping, and any smokeless tobacco products.
Be honest: If the insurer finds that you lied on your application, it is considered life insurance fraud, and they may reject your application, cancel the existing policy or refuse to pay death benefits to your loved ones after your death.
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The next step in the prescription process is a first aid test, which not only tests for nicotine, but also for cotinine — a byproduct of your body’s processing of nicotine that remains in your blood even after the nicotine has left your system.
If you lie about your nicotine use, somehow pass a medical exam without it showing up on a nicotine test, and get kicked out of a no-smoking policy, you could be putting your family at risk.
The first two years after your policy takes effect is known as the grace period. If you die during that time, the insurance company has the right to review your medical records and application materials.
If the insurer suspects you lied about something on your application that affected their ability to insure you – for example, saying you didn’t smoke when you actually did – they can cancel your policy.
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This doesn’t just work in the competitive era. Many policies include language that allows providers to deny the death benefit or cancel the policy for fraudulent statements at any time, even before the first two years.
If you lie on your claim, the best case scenario for your beneficiaries is that the provider delays payment of the death benefit while they investigate.
The worst case scenario is that health insurance refuses to pay if your death is deemed to be tobacco-related.
Symptoms of nicotine stay in your blood for up to three days, but cotinine – what nicotine breaks down and a sure sign that nicotine was present in the body – can stay in your blood for more than a week. For a urine test, it can take about a month to remove all traces of smoking from your system.
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According to the CDC, there are known health effects of secondhand smoke. But secondhand smoke from a family member or co-worker is less likely to show up in your nicotine test.
Although secondhand smoke is bad for you, you won’t absorb the amount of nicotine through secondhand exposure that you would as a smoker or user of other tobacco products, and it won’t show up in your blood test. If the nicotine test is positive, it is because the person has recently used cigarettes.
Smoking cessation products that help you quit – such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum – contain enough nicotine to show up in a nicotine test. And while these products clearly help you quit smoking, they are still classified as tobacco use by many health insurance companies.
Some insurers are more lenient than others and will specifically consider smoking cessation products as long as no other tobacco use is involved. Some insurances cover smoking and nicotine replacement products (e-cigarettes, nicotine patches, and other smoking cessation products) under the same guidelines and classify users accordingly.
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If you use nicotine gum or a patch, it’s important to choose an insurance policy that will complement your quit efforts.
Chewing tobacco contains a high amount of nicotine, so if you are a regular or occasional smoker, you will likely test positive for nicotine or cotinine. Even if you don’t technically smoke, you will still be classified as a smoker because the health risks are the same as smoking.
If you quit smoking a few weeks before your life insurance test, there is a chance that your nicotine and cotinine test will come back negative.
However, quitting less than a year before your medical exam is unlikely to get you affordable premiums. Most providers don’t offer smoke-free rates until you’ve been smoke-free for a year or more.
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Even if your screen comes back clear, stay honest with your insurer about the date you quit smoking. If it’s just happened, you won’t get non-smoker rates, but by lying you’re committing fraud and risk having your policy canceled and leaving your family unprotected.
Every insurance company differentiates between smokers and non-smokers, but some pay less attention to smoking when determining premiums than others. Use of other tobacco products and length of time since quitting for ex-smokers are two of the biggest differences in the top life insurance companies.
We used industry data, pricing from our carrier partners, and third-party ratings such as A.M. Best and J.D. Power to choose the best insurers in the market. Our independent recommendations will help you find life insurance with confidence.
Not sure which company is the best fit for you? A licensed agent can talk you through the options, help you compare quotes, and walk you through the application process to find the company – and policy – that works for you.
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We are not paid for our company reviews and use an extensive rubric of criteria including policy details, price, financial reliability, third party ratings, and customer experience to provide an unbiased five star rating. Any recommendations we make are based on the opinions of internal and external experts and data from our Price Index, which uses real-time benchmark data from leading life insurance companies to determine price trends.
Our ratings and reviews can help guide you to the insurer you can trust to provide financial protection for your family, but the best life insurance company for you depends on many factors. A licensed agent can work with you through the application process to find the best insurance coverage for your circumstances at the most competitive price.