What is Life Insurance Testing for Nicotine?
Life insurance nicotine testing is testing performed on behalf of insurance carriers when you apply for life insurance.
The insurer may require a medical exam that includes a urine sample or blood sample.
Your urine or blood is sent to a lab for testing. The testing will include checking for any use of tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco or marijuana.
The results will be reviewed by the underwriter reviewing your application for life insurance.
If you test positive for legal tobacco use you will be rated as a smoker for your life insurance. If you test positive for marijuana you may be approved with a tobacco rate, or you may be declined for life insurance depending on the insurer’s position on insuring marijuana smokers.
If you smoke legal prescription marijuana in a state where marijuana is legal then you should not have any problem getting insured for life insurance.
1. Do all life insurance companies require nicotine tests?
It depends on the insurer’s guidelines for approval, the amount of life insurance you need and your reply to questions on the application for coverage.
Each life insurer has their own position on insurance nicotine tests, but be prepared to provide a urine or blood sample if requested.
This is a standard requirement considering the discount on rates for non-smokers. On average smokers pay up to 3 times as much for the same amount of life insurance as non smokers.
2. How does the insurance company give the nicotine test for life insurance?
Usually the nicotine test will consist of a licensed professional paramedical examiner sent to your home to ask you some health questions, have you sign your statement, and either take a urine s ample or blood sample which is sent to a testing laboratory.
The requirements will vary by insurance company depending on the amount of life insurance coverage you need. The medical exam and lab tests are paid for by the life insurance carrier.
3. Can you get away with not telling the truth on your application for life insurance when asked if you smoke?
No, you can’t. It’s best to tell the truth on your application for life insurance. Although, most evidence of nicotine or continine is out of your system within 1-2 days (usually all signs are gone within 7 days except from your hair - they don't test your hair).
The life insurance company can access information from the Medical Information Bureau from all member insurance companies. In addition they ask you on the application. If you smoke The application becomes part of the life insurance policy which is a legally binding contract. If you lie on the application for life insurance you have misled the insurer, and perhaps committed fraud. That means, if you die and your death was a result of smoking, the claim on your life insurance policy may be denied.
Then Incontestable Clause in a life insurance policy states that after the policy is In Force for two years, the company cannot void it because of misrepresentation or concealment by the insured in obtaining the policy.
However, if you die within the first two years of being insured, the insurance company can contest any claim based on misleading statements made on your application for coverage.
4. What if the insurance company finds out you smoke when you answered "NO" on the application?
If the insurance nicotine test comes back positive for smoking the insurance company can either deny you for coverage, offer you a higher rate, and/or notify the Medical Information Bureau to keep on file that you lied about smoking on your application.
5. What happens if they find out I smoke after my life insurance policy is in effect?
First, there is a clause in your life insurance policy named the "Incontestable Clause". Incontestability means with respect to statements made on the application for coverage the life insurance policy cannot be contested after it has been "In Force" for two years.
However, if the life insurance company finds out you smoke within the first two years of the policy they may choose to cancel your life insurance, increase your rate to smokers rates and require payment of the difference in rates going back to the start of your life insurance policy.
6. Can the life insurance company decline to pay my beneficiary if they find out I smoked after I have passed away?
Again, this goes back to the issue of Incontestability. If you pass away within the first 2 years of buying your life insurance and the cause of your death was directly related to smoking, such as lung cancer, emphysema or heart disease they may contest the policy claim. The insurer can decline to pay the death benefits to your beneficiary if they can prove you smoked and smoking was the cause of your death.
If you pass away more than 2 years after the start of your policy they may still fight the case and decline to pay if your death was smoking-related.
It depends on the insurer's position on this issue and how soon after the 2 year period you passed away. However, they may not win their case, and have to end up paying the claim.
Imagine purchasing life insurance and then family receives no benefits (except for the premiums you paid the insurer, which may or may not be returned by the life insurance company after your death) when they are in need of that money for their living expenses.
7. What if I start smoking after I buy my life insurance policy?
If you told the truth on your application for coverage about not smoking and were issued a life insurance policy rated as non-smoker, then you start smoking, there should be no problem.
A life insurance policy is issued based on your truthful answers to the application questions at the time you take out the life insurance.
Your life insurance can be issued based on non-smoker rates, but will remain “In Force” with no increase in rates, or change in coverage if you start smoking after buying the life insurance.
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American Cancer Society – Guide to Quitting Smoking