Some of the most high-risk clients I see on a regular basis are those who smoke cigarettes or use tobacco.
It’s no secret that cigarette smoke or tobacco use takes a toll on your health, but what you may not know is that it can have severely detrimental effects on your life insurance premiums – and your wallet. Not that this, either, should come as a surprise.
Depending on where you live in the United States, a pack of cigarettes can cost you from anywhere between $5 and $15; a negligible price when compared to the hundreds of dollars you can expect to pay in life insurance premiums.
In fact, many smokers are shocked to find out that they pay two-to-four times more for their premiums than non-smokers. And these price is on top of the already-inflated high-risk premiums!
Life Insurance for Smokers
Smoking is a lifestyle choice that is considered, by and large in the insurance world, as high-risk. This is because smoking is directly correlated to health problems that lower an applicant’s life expectancy.
The health problems that smokers face include heart disease, blood clots, respiratory/lung diseases and cancer. Once upon a time, tobacco use would have meant an automatic coverage decline, which makes sense when you think about the health risks associated with the habit.
In spite of all of this, it isn’t uncommon for smokers to find insurance that is – relatively – affordable.
It all starts with the life insurance application and, for some, it starts with the instant quote form.
One of the main questions you will have to answer is “have you smoked or used a tobacco product in the last 12 months?”
Tobacco products include cigarettes, chewing tobacco, nicotine gum or patches, cigars and electronic cigarettes. Any time you answer yes to this question, you can reasonably expect to pay more for your life insurance policy, even if you only smoke on a rare special occasion.
There is good news, however: if you answer yes to this question, you are a part of a large market and there are several options that cater to you and other smokers applying for life insurance.
Finding these options is simply a matter of doing your research and I am here to help!
Earning The Best Ratings for Smokers: The Basics
Not all smokers are created equal, and the life insurance industry is finally starting to realize this by making concessions for those who are deemed “occasional smokers.”
An occasional smoker is defined as an individual who does not smoke every day or who smokes less than one cigarette per day. Most life insurance companies do not differentiate these social smokers from those who smoke regularly; however, some companies will.
For example, cigar smoker’s life insurance often comes with lower premiums than cigarette smokers life insurance, particularly if you indulge in one or less cigars per month.
The first step toward getting the best insurance rates with a history of tobacco use is to cease the use of the products; however, this is not always easy.
Some companies will give you non-smoker ratings from the day you quit using tobacco products.
For example, if you quit twelve months ago, one year from that date you will be eligible for lower premiums.
When you go in for a medical exam, your blood or urine will be tested for traces of a chemical called cotinine, which is left behind after nicotine has faded from your system. By testing the levels of this chemical in your system, insurers will be able to verify your smoker status and rate you accordingly. In some instances, cotinine can stay in your system for up to three months after you have quit smoking and even longer if you are using a nicotine-based product to help you quit.
One year is the benchmark amount of time that you need to be free from all tobacco products – including nicotine gums and patches – in order for you to be eligible for new ratings. And, yes, your insurer will test you again!
In some instances, earning the best ratings as a smoker is as simple as following your insurer’s guidelines, so you might not even be tested again for the presence of cotinine. This does not mean that you should fake your status as a nonsmoker.
If you lie on your insurance application and happen to pass away with nicotine or cotinine in your system, your family may not receive your benefits. Additionally, should you need to be re-examined in the future, your insurance company can take legal action against you for fraud.
If you’re not at the stage where you are ready to quit just yet, there are still measures you can take to improve your ratings.
The simplest way you can improve your life insurance ratings as a smoker is to improve your overall health.
This is a bit counter-intuitive, as smoking is incredibly unhealthy, but there are measures you can take. Following a doctor-recommended diet and exercise plan and maintaining an overall picture of good health is a surefire way to lower your overall risk and premium prices.
Additionally, if you are planning on quitting, you should be sure to provide your insurer with your most up-to-date medical records. Any marks in the improvement of your health as a result of you quitting is going to help you earn the best ratings!
The most important thing to remember is that you have resources to help you find a company for your needs.
Finding affordable smoker’s life insurance can be frustrating and discouraging if you aren’t using an agent. An agent can honestly and accurately present your risk as a smoker to a variety of life insurance companies – companies that have a history of successfully insuring individuals like yourself.
It’s rare that you’ll be denied for coverage simply because you are a smoker, and an independent agent can help take some of the fear out of shopping for life insurance.
The key to successfully finding a tailored policy is to do your research. Agents like myself have the industry connections and the knowledge of which companies specialize in high-risk clients. Give me a call today to see how I can help you find the best smoker life insurance policy for you.