While tobacco usage certainly impacts insurability and insurance premiums, it isn’t impossible for those who use tobacco to get life insurance.  Several factors impact what type of policy you’ll qualify for and how much it will cost. Life insurance for smokers does tend to cost more than policies that cover non-smokers, but term life insurance can still be found at affordable rates.

The type of tobacco you use, and how frequently you do so, can have an impact on your rates. For example, some companies make preferred rates available for life insurance for cigar smokers who smoke in moderation (typically no more than one a month). The same is true for those who use smokeless tobacco moderately. If your tobacco usage fits one of these categories, be sure to ask your insurance agent about what types of special life insurance for tobacco users programs might be available to you.rate.

If you quit smoking at least a year ago, some companies will classify you as a non-smoker but probably won’t give you Preferred rates (provided that you would otherwise qualify)..  If you quit 2-3 years ago, some companies will allow Preferred rates (provided that you would otherwise qualify).


Can Smokers Get Affordable Life Insurance?


Taking care of your family is at the top of your priority list. Every day you work hard to make sure they have the essentials they need. You also enjoy being able to give them the extras that put  smiles on their faces. One of your biggest concerns is what would happen if you were no longer around to do all of this for them. Getting life insurance is a crucial step to protect them after you are gone, but you smoke. Can you even get a life insurance policy?

Yes, you can!  The main issue is the cost to obtain a life insurance policy is higher for a smoker than a non-smoker. For example, the expense for a 45-year old male smoker could be between 100-300% higher in premiums for a $500,000 20-year term life policy than a non-smoker. That difference could cost a smoker approximately $150.00 a month more than his non-smoking counterpart. That’s a lot of money to consider.  How do you obtain a life insurance policy at a more reasonable rate if you are a smoker?


Health Risks that come with Smoking

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According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Smoking and Tobacco Use,” there are approximately 16 million people in the United States with a disease related to smoking. Common health issues caused by tobacco use include certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and some eye conditions. Diseases such as diabetes and immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis can become much worse due to smoking.

The way nicotine enters the body can cause severe damage to specific parts of the body. Chewing tobacco can cause cancer to the mouth, throat, and jaw. Inhaling tobacco products is known to cause severe injury to the lungs. Many smokers can have lung damage, such as obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.  Even using a vape device can cause many of these diseases. It doesn’t matter what way you use tobacco. The nicotine can still cause damage. These factors are why obtaining life insurance can be difficult for tobacco users.


What about Occasional Smokers?


So, what if you’re healthy and a smoker? Although every insurance company has its underwriting guidelines, if you intake nicotine, you’re still a smoker. If you’re an occasional smoker and in good health, you may be able to be considered for a “preferred smoker” rate. The premiums are still high, but lower than if you were considered a fulltime smoker.

For life insurance policies, smoking isn’t just store-bought or hand-rolled cigarettes. They also include nicotine by chewing tobacco, cigars, and pipes. Using a vape device or electronic cigarette (e-cig) is also considered as smoking.

If you are using nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, inhalers, or other means to cut-down or quit smoking, you need to disclose that on your application. Any means nicotine is inhaled, ingested, or absorbed into your body make you  a smoker, according to insurance companies.

Nicotine and cotinine, another marker of tobacco use, can be detected in your system through your urine, blood, saliva, hair, and nails. The two most common ways to test for nicotine are blood and urine samples. How long nicotine stays in your system depends on several factors. According to an article in Medical News Today, nicotine stays in the body of people 65 and older longer. The substance is undetectable in women sooner, especially those on birth control pills. If you are a life-time or heavy smoker, nicotine is detectable for a longer period.

The average time-span that nicotine can still test positive is approximately two weeks. The time varies depending on the amount, frequency, and how long a person has used a tobacco product.  The other factor is a person’s overall health. A healthier person’s body will eliminate the chemical faster than someone with a disease or an unhealthy lifestyle.


Any means nicotine is inhaled, ingested, or absorbed into your body can make you considered a smoker.


Medical Exams and Life Insurance Policies


A majority of life insurance companies require you to have a medical exam. Your health plays a large part in your life insurance premium. The insurance company’s underwriters don’t want to take on too much of a risk. High-risk individuals can ultimately cost them lots of money. Smokers are at high risk.

When you apply for insurance, you will fill out an application before your medical exam. Be truthful. If you smoke, say so. Part of your assessment will be medical tests. These will include blood and urine samples to determine your overall health, including if there is nicotine or cotinine in your system. You will also be asked a list of questions by the nurse to evaluate your lifestyle and family medical history.

Never try to cover-up or lie on your application or the questions from the nurse. You may initially feel you’ve been able to hide certain things like smoking. With high-quality testing and the doctor’s ability to screen patients, it won’t stay hidden for long.  Your best bet is to be as truthful as you possibly can. Be honest about smoking, how much, and what you smoke. Marijuana use also is a form of smoking. Don’t worry about divulging use. There is a code of ethics with doctor/patient privacy. Today, with all the states legalizing various levels of consumption, using marijuana is not the issue it used to be.

Another reason not to lie about smoking is that life insurance companies have a two year contestability period from the date of your application. This time frame is when they can legally dispute any discrepancies they find on your application, your medical exam, or other information. If they prove you lied or hid information, your life insurance policy will suffer early cancellation, and they can deny a death claim.


Life Insurance for Smokers


Getting a life insurance policy if you’re a smoker is possible. Getting a lower premium can also be obtainable. Your health is ultimately the most critical aspect of your life, for you and your loved ones. Good health can also help to lower your life insurance premium. If you are a smoker, consider cutting down on your smoking or quitting altogether. Your health care provider can guide you on the best way to do this for your needs.

 Here’s an example of a $250,000 20-year term life insurance policy for an otherwise very healthy female smoker and non-smoker: 


Age of ApplicantFemale Non-SmokerFemale Smoker

It’s important to note after reviewing these actual rates for term insurance, even though the increase caused by smoking is minimal when you are 25 or thirty, look what happens when you’re forty. At forty, the difference between smoker and non-smoker rates are in this example is $36.44 per month. That translates into $437 per year or, more importantly, $8,745 for the life of the policy.


Don’t wait for your life insurance medical exam to get a check-up. Consider seeing your doctor before applying for your life insurance policy. An overall view of your health can help you decide what lifestyle changes you may need to make for optimum health. If your diet needs an overhaul, a visit with a nutritionist can put you on the right path. Add in some moderate exercise, and you’re well on your way. Changing your lifestyle could be the motivation for the rest of your family to get healthy, too.

Your healthy lifestyle can add years to your life and those you love. You can go from a smoker, to a “preferred smoker,” or even to a non-smoker on your life insurance policy application. That way, you can get the protection your family needs when you no longer can be there for them at a cost that won’t break the family’s budget.


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For more information about buying affordable life insurance if you’re a smoker and to get a free and confidential quote, please call us at (866) 694-0100 during normal business hours or you can contact us through our website.


Richard RichIn my 20+ years as an independent life and disability insurance broker, I have personally assisted thousands of clients with their life and disability insurance needs.  Being independent, I represent many highly-rated insurance companies and, because I am not beholden to any one insurance company, my focus is to find the right company and policy for each individual client.

I believe that when people shop for insurance (or anything else, for that matter) on the Internet, they are looking for a simple, non-intrusive, non-pressure method of doing so.  I strive to treat my prospective clients with the utmost respect and I believe an educated prospect can make the right decision without sales pressure.