What is Considered a Smoker for Life Insurance?

If you’re looking for life insurance and you smoke, whether on a regular basis or occasionally, you may be wondering how insurance companies define "smoker" for life insurance?

Each insurance carrier has their own set of parameters or guidelines for what qualifies as a smoker when it comes to pricing and approval for life insurance.

And, there are many forms of smoking which may include cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, e-cigs, marijuana and medicinal marijuana, among others.

Prices and approval for smoking life insurance vary by use of tobacco.

The determination of "smoker rates" is based on the type of tobacco use, how often you smoke, how much you smoke, and if you test positive or negative for nicotine or THC in your system, among other factors, when you take your paramed exam for life insurance. 

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How Much Smoking Qualifies You as a Smoker to Life Insurance Companies? 

When someone applies for a life insurance policy, they typically minimize how much they smoke, often to the point of classifying themselves as non-smokers, even if they smoke occasionally or weekly.

For example, a person may consider himself to be a non-smoker, because he only smokes on weekends.

In his own mind, the fact that he doesn’t smoke Monday through Friday means that he isn’t a regular smoker. Keep in mind, a life insurance company will take a much different view of even minimal usage of tobacco.

 

Life Insurance Carrier’s View of a "Smoker"  

A standard question on every life insurance application is "have you used tobacco or nicotine in the last 12 to 60 months?"

Look at the way that question is worded – it’s an unqualified question that forces you to say "Yes" for even the most minimal use of tobacco, or to lie and hope the life insurance carrier never finds out you lied about using tobacco.

 

A "Yes" answer from you will automatically classify you as a "smoker" for the purposes of purchasing life insurance.

 

As far as the insurance carrier is concerned, if you’ve only smoked a few cigarettes in the time period asked about on the application, you’ll be considered a smoker.

The frequency with which you smoke will only matter as far as which "smoker rates" you are assigned. But a "Yes" answer for any degree of tobacco usage will classify you as a smoker. 

This is where the life insurance industry and the average person on the street don’t see eye-to-eye.

Most people may recognize a difference between an occasional smoker and a regular smoker.

However, the insurance industry does not make the same distinction. If you smoked just a few cigarettes in the past year, a life insurance company will consider you a smoker. 

 

Can You Lie About Smoking and Get Away with It?

Yes, if you choose to you could lie about your smoking history and maybe get away with it for a while. Anything is possible including trying to deceive an insurance company in regards to your use of tobacco. But there will be consequences if your smoking is discovered at a later date. 

Failure to disclose a significant health condition is considered to be "Insurance Fraud".

 

Here are a few possible outcomes for Insurance Fraud:

First, you could face criminal prosecution.

More commonly, the insurer can void the life insurance policy upon discovery of your undisclosed smoking habit.

The insurance company could legally deny paying your insurance claim to your beneficiaries upon your death, if it can be determined that your death was in any way caused by tobacco usage that you failed to disclose to the insurer on your application for coverage. 

The insurance company could simply refund the amount of your life insurance premiums to your beneficiaries, but not provide any funds as part of the face value of the insurance policy. 

The insurance carrier can terminate your life insurance policy without warning if subsequent medical tests reveal that you are in fact a smoker, when you indicated that you weren’t.

Tobacco usage can easily be determined from a simple urine test.  Tobacco usage is too easy to determine to even consider the possibility of failing to disclose it to the insurance company.

It’s far better to admit your tobacco habit, and obtain the best policy that you can get based on your actual tobacco usage.

 

What If You Quit Smoking?

Life insurance companies do actually have a favorable response to the prospect of you quitting smoking. 

Some companies will even rate you "preferred plus" if you can demonstrate that you have been tobacco free for a specific period of time, which is usually two or three years.

Some insurers will require you actually participate in a smoker cessation program which will provide the documentation needed to establish the fact that you are now a former smoker. And, this is a far better route to take than trying to lie about the fact you’re a smoker. 

  

Best Course of Action for a Smoker: Choose Your Life Insurance Company Carefully

Unfortunately, most people are in no position to know which insurance companies are the most likely to approve a smoker for life insurance, and at the lowest possible premium.

You have two choices in this regard:

Apply to several life insurance companies, so that you can find out who are the best life insurers for smokers, or

You can work with an experienced life insurance broker who already has that information, and can place your application only with companies who offer more lenient rates for smokers.

 

Top Pick – JRC Insurance Group

JRC Insurance Group helps you shop, compare and save on life insurance. Regardless of your age or health background, we'll shop our 40+ insurance companies and find you affordable life insurance you need to protect your family and fit your budget. Compare the best smoker life insurance rates from top carriers including Prudential, Lincoln National and Minnesota Life for savings up to 73%. Get Your FREE Quote

 

Top Smoker Life Insurance Companies

 

Prudential

The best life insurance company for smokers is Prudential or Pruco Life.

Prudential Life Insurance will offer a non-tobacco "standard plus" rate class to qualifying individuals who use an unlimited amount of chewing tobacco, snuff, e-cigarettes, cigars, and nicotine gum.

The only caveat is that you must tell the nurse that you use tobacco and the type of tobacco you use. This rate is not available to cigarette smokers.

For occasional cigar smokers, Prudential Life will offer their top rate class, "preferred best" as long as the applicant tests negative for nicotine during the exam. 

Prudential is also the most lenient with marijuana. They will offer a "standard plus" rate to people who smoke marijuana up to twice a week recreationally.

If you smoke marijuana for a medical condition, Prudential will underwrite for your medical condition, not the marijuana.

As an example, someone with a marijuana prescription for insomnia may qualify for "preferred best" rates for their life insurance policy.

  

Lincoln National

Lincoln National will offer a "standard non-tobacco" rate class to tobacco users who do not smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes. The applicant can test positive for nicotine, as long as they tell the examiner that they use tobacco but not cigarettes.

Lincoln National will also overlook an occasional cigar and offer "preferred best" rates on life insurance as long as the applicant tests negative for nicotine during the exam.

 

Minnesota Life

Minnesota Life will not offer non-tobacco rates to tobacco users that test positive during their exam, but they are the only life insurance company that treats an occasional cigarette the same as an occasional cigar.

Minnesota Life will allow their applicants to qualify for any non-tobacco rate class as long as they smoke no more than 1-2 cigarettes per month and test negative for nicotine during their health exam.

  

How Do I Compare the Best Smoker Life Insurance Rates?

You can visit JRC Insurance Group to request your free, instant life insurance quote comparisons online now.

It only takes a minute to fill out a short quote request form and instantly receive the best prices from 40 of the top life insurance carriers in America. 

JRC Insurance helps you compare the best prices from best life insurance carriers including Prudential, Lincoln National and Minnesota Life, among others. Get a FREE Quote.

  

Are There Smoking and Nicotine Tests Required for Life Insurance? 

When you apply for life insurance you may be required to take a paramed exam which checks your blood pressure, heart rate/pulse, and they will draw a blood sample for testing which will check for nicotine and THC in your system.

If you quit smoking you may qualify for non-smoker rates on your new life insurance policy. The insurer may require you to be smoke-free for at least 6 months to 1 year.

If you already own life insurance, you may request a re-rate of your life insurance policy if you have quit smoking. The insurance company may give you a nicotine test and have you answer some questions as to when you quit smoking and how long you have been smoke-free.

If you quit smoking for at least 6 months to 1 year, and the nicotine testing results show you are a non-smoker, the insurer may lower your rate for life insurance, which may save you hundreds of dollars per year on your coverage.


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Top Pick – JRC Insurance Group

JRC Insurance Group helps you shop, compare and save on life insurance. Regardless of your age or health background, we'll shop our 40+ insurance companies and find you affordable life insurance you need to protect your family and fit your budget. Compare the best smoker life insurance rates from top carriers including Prudential, Lincoln National and Minnesota Life for savings up to 73%. Get Your FREE Quote



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