Smoking and Life Insurance

Written by Rob Pinner

Life Insurance is when the major decision is made to provide financial support to your family members in the event of an untimely death.  This can be a confusing and frustrating process to most.  It can take weeks and sometimes months which is aggravating at best.

If you are thinking about purchasing life insurance, then you will want to recognize the factors that determine how your premium is calculated.  While there are many factors, we are going to concentrate on just one in this article.  This factor, which is maybe the most important, is Smoking.

Types of Life Insurance for Smokers

You should always explore the different types of life insurance plans before choosing what best fits your needs.  Also, some life insurance carriers are more forgiving to smokers than others.

The two main types of life insurance plans are:

  • Term Life Insurance: Term life is the most attractive of the 2 because of its affordable premium.  Term life is sold with different benefit periods ranging from 10-30 years, depending on your age.  Term life does expire and could leave you without insurance.
  • Permanent Life Insurance: Permanent Life Insurance comes in the form of Whole Life Insurance or Universal Life Insurance. These plans last for your lifetime and build up some sort of cash value.  These plans tend to cost more than term life insurance does.  Fees also can be associated with permanent life insurance.

How does smoking affect life insurance?

When you go to purchase life insurance, the insurance carrier wants to understand the risks involved with insuring your life.  Smoking is considered a high risk for obvious reasons. There are a couple ways the insurance carrier goes about this:

  • They ask a lot of health questions. The questions will deal with your overall health now and in the past, not just about smoking.
  • The insurance carrier will require a para-med exam. This usually involves the same health questions being asked, blood profile, and a urine specimen.

tobacco-products

The main question that will be asked is what type of tobacco you use.  Some common types are.

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • E-Cigarettes
  • Chew/Dip
  • Marijuana
  • Nicotine Gum

Finding the right coverage for smokers

First off if you are smoker understand that your premiums are going to be significantly higher than a non-smoker.

They key to finding the right coverage is to make sure you work with an independent agency.  An independent agency will be able to recommend multiple carriers instead of being bound to just one company.   This is important because some carriers have more favorable outlook on smokers than others.

There are also other risk factors that insurance carriers look for with clients that smoke.  These include:

  • Cholesterol
  • Blood Pressure
  • Sugar
  • Weight

These factors along with smoking can lead to a higher premium or even a decline.  Smoking by itself will not disqualify you but mixed with other problems could lead to less favorable outcome.

Can I qualify for a Non-Medical Policy as a smoker?

The good news is you can qualify for a non-medical policy as a smoker, if there are no other underlying medical conditions.  Always remember that most non-medical policies are more expensive than going through the exam process and this is no different for smokers.

I have quit smoking! How long before I can qualify as a non-smoker?

We get this question a lot.  I have quit smoking; can I get non-smoker rates?  Yes, you can!!

This is an important question because everyone wants to qualify for the lowest rate possible, and you can’t do that if you are a smoker.

Here are the ways to qualify as a non-smoker from smoker:

  1. In order to qualify for standard non-tobacco rates, you will have to quit smoking for 1 year with most insurance carriers. To qualify for Preferred, no smoking for 5 years.
  2. You will have to submit a urine sample during the medical exam for the life insurance policy. The urine sample will catch traces of nicotine and there is no way around it.
  3. You will want to inform your medical practitioner that you have quit smoking, so there will be documentation if any doctor records are ordered.
  4. Always be truthful when answering any smoking related questions. Not being truthful can lead to a claim not being paid.

If you can do the four qualifiers above, you can qualify for non-tobacco rates.

Final Thoughts

While it always better to be a non-smoker just because the premium is cheaper and it’s better for your health, buying life insurance as a smoker is not difficult or out of the question.  You may have to cut back your coverage or decrease your term benefit period to get the premium that best fits your budget, but don’t let smoking discourage you from looking into life insurance.  Life insurance is an important part of everyone’s portfolio and should incorporated accordingly.  You will want to team up with an experienced agent to guide you through the process and use the best carrier for smoking or tobacco products.  If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

 

Rob Pinner
Rob Pinner

I have been a licensed insurance agent for over 15 years.  If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

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