Smokers tend to believe that they cannot buy life insurance, or that any coverage available to them will not be affordable.
However, the idea that smokers can’t get cheap life insurance is a myth. While it is true that, on average, if you are seeking life insurance as a smoker, you will pay more for coverage – about four times more than nonsmokers – almost every lifestyle choice, budget, age, and health condition has its policy. It’s all tied to risk.
The trick is finding the best coverage, insurance company, and quotes.
You can even find relatively cheap life insurance for smokers with some effort. Translation: smokers must carefully research, “shop around” and compare life insurance quotes to find an affordable policy. Almost 25% of adults in America smoke; this means that if you are a smoker, you are part of a major market for life insurance companies.
Regardless of your health and the tobacco that you use, you should be able to get an affordable life insurance policy to fit your needs. There are several options available to you give your family the insurance protection that they need.
If you want to get a quality and affordable life insurance policy, we are here to help. The life insurance purchasing process can be a long and difficult process, but we are here to help. Our agents can make it as quick and simple as possible for you.
Underwriting Criteria For Smokers Life Insurance
Underwriting criteria and premiums for every consumer, including smokers, vary considerably between the best life insurance companies. Insurers use very specific guidelines and questions to classify consumers as smokers, and they aren’t always intuitive or logical. A typical question you’ll find on the application is “have you used a tobacco product in the last 12 months?”
Being defined as a smoker can mean using tobacco cigarettes or cigars, but life insurance for smokers includes chewing tobacco or dipping, which technically isn’t smoking at all. Sometimes smoking cessation techniques and devices, such as nicotine gum, the patch, or electronic cigarettes, can lead companies to classify you as a smoker.
Fundamentally, what they are really looking for is any form of regular and habitual nicotine use. Nevertheless, some providers differentiate between moderate and heavy nicotine users, quoting lower rates for occasional smokers.
Lying about anything during your life insurance application, including whether or not you smoke, is insurance fraud.
As part of the application process, insurers require a health exam to investigate your height, weight, medical history, blood pressure, diseases/illnesses, pre-existing conditions, and genetic pre-dispositions, etc.
Most life insurance medical exams administer a test to assess and confirm cotinine levels in the body. Because cotinine is a byproduct of nicotine, the results of the examination will determine whether or not you are considered a smoker by the company’s underwriting criteria and standards.
After completing your medical exam, your carrier will classify you into a risk category. Generally speaking, the categories are as follows:
- Preferred Plus
- Standard Plus
Your smoking habit alone will not determine which health or risk category you are assigned. Smokers who are young, in good health, and pose little risk to the life insurance company can still be classified as “Preferred Plus” or “Preferred”, but will be charged a higher premium. The process is very similar to buying life insurance as a diabetic.
Consequences of Fraud
The consequences for any fraud can be severe. Even if you successfully lie on your policy application, pass your medical exam, and obtain term life insurance at non-smoker rates, your provider may not pay out your claim. In the event of your death, the life insurance company will verify your personal and health information, review your medical records, and investigate the circumstances of your death.
If your carrier learns that you were a smoker and thus fraudulently secured the policy, the life insurance claim made by your loved ones will be denied. In this case, you will have defeated the purpose of getting life insurance in the first place – your family will get nothing but a refund of your premiums.
Your Medical Records
And don’t think that you can fool one company into thinking you’re not a smoker once you’ve applied for life insurance elsewhere as a smoker. The companies you apply to in the future can access your medical records, and the results of your previous medical exams are held for 7 years in the MIB Group database.
However, this is not to say that you won’t be rewarded for your efforts if you choose to quit smoking. If at some point you do quit smoking, you can get reclassified as a nonsmoker and your premiums will be adjusted lower accordingly.
How long you must remain smoke-free to be reclassified as a “nonsmoker” varies from company to company, but most carriers require that you stay smoke-free for at least 12 months before reapplying or asking for a discounted premium.
Others use a graduated scale where rates get cheaper the longer a policyholder remains tobacco-free.
Tips For Smoking and Buying Life Insurance
Buy life insurance when you are young. A careful analysis of term life insurance rates by age will show that premiums increase as you age, especially if you develop a health condition later in life. Therefore, almost universally, coverage is cheapest for young adults. In your 20s or 30s, you still stand a chance of finding affordable life insurance for smokers.
Buy the right amount of coverage. Determining how much coverage you need can be the difference between over or underinsuring your family. Buying too much protection can be a waste of money, while not enough can leave your beneficiaries facing financial hardship. Review our comprehensive article to help you determine how much life insurance to buy.
Lower your risk before applying or comparison shop to find the best “non-standard” policy. The lowest rates on life insurance, also called preferred or select rates, go to healthy applicants. Nevertheless, insurers also assess financial responsibility, lifestyle and behavior when calculating risk and premiums.
For example, applicants engaged in “risky behavior” such as auto racing, sky diving, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, scuba diving, and boxing all pay higher premiums. Whether you smoke or race cars, you are considered “high risk” and should compare multiple life insurance quotes before deciding who to buy a policy from. Each company calculates their premiums differently to attract certain types of policyholders – it is important that you find the right coverage and carrier for your lifestyle and needs.
Insurance companies have specialties. You wouldn’t see a cardiologist for a headache, right? So don’t go to an insurance company who lumps all smokers together if you only smoke a cigar or two now and again. Find a company that assesses your smoking in as much detail and as accurately as possible with an eye to your actual health, not just projected averages. Some companies charge moderate smokers less than heavy smokers, and some even reward “preferred” smokers who can prove they are in excellent health. If you are marijuana smoker, some companies don’t even count that as smoking and will write a marijuana life insurance policy with no smoker up-charge.
Try to negotiate. Did you know that you can submit an argument for your rate to be reconsidered and lowered after you receive a quote from an insurance company? It’s true, and this can often help smokers looking for life insurance save money by highlighting aspects of their good health. If you smoke occasionally and you can prove you are in great health, try asking for a lower price.
Check for price discounts within coverage ranges. Most providers price their policies within ranges and change their prices incrementally. For example, your per unit cost of coverage drops every $250,000 you buy in protection. Ask your agent, broker, or representative for a “bulk” discount for each additional $1,000 of coverage.
Smokers Life Insurance
It isn’t impossible to find affordable term life insurance for smokers – it just takes some effort, time, and research. Like any other financial or investment decision, always analyze and compare your options before buying. And don’t be afraid to ask questions about different types of policies, the application process, the medical exam, or anything else you may be uncertain about.
Companies with higher rates for smokers benefit from your embarrassment and reluctance to ask questions.
Finally, never be afraid to walk away if a premium just isn’t in your budget. Compare free life insurance quotes online to find other carriers who may specialize in life insurance for smokers and are willing to offer you cheap rates.
If you have any questions about getting life insurance or about getting the best rates as a smoker, please contact one of our agents today. We would be happy to answer those questions and connect you with the best plan to fit your needs. Our independent insurance agents have years of experience working with various highly rated companies across the United States. If you want to ensure that you’re getting the best rated available to you, please contact one of our agents today to get the process started.
You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, which means that you should wait any longer to get the life insurance that your family deserves.