Obtaining life insurance is not always as simple as picking a face value, term length, and company. As a smoker you will have to provide some more information to carriers before you get a true quoted rate.
Some of the key criteria include your age, your health, and any risk factors such as your occupation and / or hobbies that you participate in. Other components can also include the habits that you partake in such as smoking. In fact, smoking is going to be one of the biggest factors that the insurance company reviews when you’re applying for coverage. Your tobacco usage is going to be a huge part in how much you pay for your coverage.
It is likely that you may have heard stories about how difficult it is gain approval on life insurance for smokers. The truth is, though, that you can actually get life insurance – and oftentimes you can obtain such coverage at very affordable rates, as long as you know how and where to look.
How Individuals Are Classified As Smokers
Because all insurers are different, the underwriting criteria and the premiums for all insureds – including those who are classified as smokers – can vary a great deal from one insurance company to another.
When it comes to actually classifying an individual as being a smoker, insurance companies may use very specific questions and guidelines – and some of these may or may not appear to be logical.
For example, to most people, being a smoker means using cigarettes or cigars. However, to life insurance companies, this could also include dipping or chewing tobacco. It could also even include using smoking cessation devices and techniques such as the patch, nicotine gum, and electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs.
The bottom line is that the insurers are trying to determine whether or not an applicant has a habit of using nicotine of any kind – although some insurers will make a differentiation between those who are more heavy users and offer lower premium rates to those who do not use as much or as often.
Are Cigar Smokers Rated the Same as Cigarette Smokers?
Although smoking cigars is still considered to be smoking, it is estimated that three-quarters of all cigar aficionados are only occasional smokers – and, according to most life insurers, that is just one time per month. Under these terms, that is technically considered to be a non-tobacco user.
Therefore, if you are just an occasional cigar smoker and you only smoke for the purpose of celebrating or at other special occasions, it is likely that you will be considered a non-tobacco user. It is, however, important that you note this on your life insurance application. This way, the insurance company will still be knowledgeable about your cigar smoking in case the matter were to ever come up in contesting your policy in the future.
This means answering “yes” in response to the application question that asks whether you have use any tobacco products within the past five years. In the area on the application that states “If Yes, Explain,” you will be able to explain how many cigars you smoke per year. It is here that you can describe in more detail how many cigars you smoke and in what circumstance. It is typically best to describe this in as much detail as possible so that the life insurance underwriter gets a clear understanding.
In addition, you will also need to test negative for nicotine in your blood and urine samples that are taken in the medical examination. With this in mind, it is a good idea not to smoke a cigar within a week or two prior to taking your life insurance medical exam.
The application process will consist of questions about your age, weight, health conditions, family history, occupation, income, hobbies, and other potential risk factors. Doing this gives the underwriter a chance to see what your risk-cost is if they had to pay out a claim.
Oftentimes, as a part of the application process, the insurance company will require that you take a health exam. This will help the underwriters to get an even better idea of your overall health condition. Though do not worry if you are in poor health and are a smoker and aren’t able to pass the traditional medically underwritten life insurance policy, there are other options for you, such as the no medical exam policy that will come with a higher premium rate, but will allow you to obtain the life insurance coverage that you deserve.
This examination may also consist of a test that will assess and confirm the level of nicotine byproducts in your body. Which can either put you in the tobacco or non-tobacco category.
Once all of your exam results and other information has been analyzed, the underwriters will be able to make a determination as to whether or not your application for coverage will be approved. If so, depending on your health and other factors, your policy will be rated into one of the following categories:
- Standard – This is the category where insureds who are of average health are placed. Policy holders in this category will pay an average premium rate.
- Preferred – Policy holders who are in a Preferred category typically are in especially good health, and therefore will pay a lower amount of premium rate.
- Substandard – Those who are in the substandard category are generally in worse health than the Standard, or average, policy. Because of this, they also present a higher risk to the insurance company. In order to make up for this higher amount of risk, these policy holders will typically also pay a higher amount of premium.
Within each of these categories, the insurance company may have sub-categories. There may also be a category for smokers in each of these categories as well.
It is important to note that an applicant’s smoking habit alone will not determine his or her policy’s category ranking. Those who are in exceptionally good health with no additional risk factors can still obtain a Preferred rating, however, they may simply be charged a slightly higher premium than others who are in the Preferred category. Because of the added risk, the companies use what can be thought of as a life insurance for smokers penalty.
Premium Rates for Smokers’ Life Insurance Policies
Although it is possible to get life insurance if you are a smoker, the premium rate will typically be much higher than that of a non-smoker. This is because smokers are 50 percent more likely to have a heart attack, and up to 4 times more likely to have a cardiac event than those who do not smoke. Because of this, the risk of the insurance company having to pay out a claim to policy holders who are smokers is heightened a great deal for those who smoke – and, when the risk is significantly raised, so will be the premium rates.
Considerations When Applying for Coverage
Regardless of how much you smoke and what method that you use, if you are any type of smoker at all, it is essential that you indicate this on your application for coverage. Not doing so is considered to be insurance fraud – and, if it is discovered within the first two years that your policy is in force, the insurance company could deny a claim to your beneficiary.
There are also some things that you could do to help bring down your life insurance premium rates. These include the following:
- Quit smoking. Those who kick the habit will usually get a break on their life insurance premium. You will likely have had to quit for at least two or three years, though, before your rates will be reduced. If you do, however, the change in price can be significant. If this is something you are considering there are great resource at SmokeFree.gov.
- Don’t chew tobacco. Even those who chew tobacco are considered to be smokers by many life insurance companies. Therefore, if you are able to stop this habit, you can also reduce your life insurance rates by quite a bit. Another option is to consider going with an insurer that differentiates between actually smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco when providing a premium price quote.
- Compare premiums. When shopping for life insurance coverage, don’t just go with the first company that you look at. It is always best to compare several different companies, as the price you are quoted can differ substantially from one insurance company to another – even for the same face amount of life insurance coverage. Working with a company that deals with numerous insurers can make comparing premiums easy and convenient. We do this for all sorts of life insurance and keep track of who is giving the best rates. That is why smokers, pilots, and all sorts of people that are classified as high risk come to us for help.
How to Obtain the Best Rates
If you’re a smoker and you are ready to apply for the life insurance coverage that you need to protect those that you love, we can help you in finding a policy at the best price for your premium budget. Unlike traditional insurance agents, we are a group of independent insurance agents, which means we don’t work with one single company. Every insurance company is different, and all of them have drastically different rates for tobacco users.
We work with the top life insurance companies in the high risk market today – and we can help you compare plans and quotes in order to come up with the one that will work best for your life insurance coverage needs and goals. If you tried to get all of these quotes yourself, you could spend hours and hours calling agents or companies. Instead of wasting all of that time, reach out to us and work with one of our advisors.
When you’re ready to begin the process, start by using the form on this page to obtain premium quotes. Should you need any additional information or have questions regarding the application process or about obtaining life insurance coverage for smokers, feel free to contact us by calling 888-229-7522 and we will be happy to help.