As a smoker, finding a life insurance policy that fits your needs can sometimes feel like a losing battle. The market can be overwhelming, and many companies often discriminate against smokers, making you feel like you’re stuck with a low-quality policy. But that’s where we come in. This article is here to give you hope and show you that you’re not alone in your search for life insurance. With the right information and a little know-how, you can find a policy that’s perfect for you and your family.
So, take a deep drag, relax, and let’s navigate the world of life insurance for smokers together.
How does a life insurance company define tobacco use?
Life insurance companies generally define tobacco use as the use of any tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, and nicotine replacement products (such as nicotine gum, patches, or e-cigarettes).
The definition of tobacco use can vary between insurance companies, but generally includes any form of nicotine consumption. This is why most life insurance companies will ask about tobacco use using questions such as:
“In the past 12 months, have you used ANY type of tobacco or nicotine products?”
Notice how this question doesn’t ask you “what” kind of tobacco or nicotine product you may have used or “how” frequently you may have used it. All they want to know is if have you used ANY tobacco or nicotine in the past 12 months PERIOD.
If you have, then there is an excellent chance you are going to be considered a tobacco user and thus have to pay tobacco rates unless you fall into a small subgroup of tobacco users and you choose to apply with the “right” insurance company that tends to be a bit more “lenient” with whom they will and won’t consider a non-tobacco user.
Do life insurance companies consider all types of tobacco or nicotine use the same?
No, life insurance companies do not consider all types of tobacco or nicotine use to be the same. The level of risk associated with different forms of tobacco and nicotine use can vary depending on the insurance company.
For example, some insurance companies may view cigarette smoking as a higher risk than cigar smoking, while others may view both as equally risky.
Similarly, some insurance companies may view the use of nicotine replacement products such as gum or patches as less risky than smoking, while others may consider them to be just as risky.
It is important to keep in mind that the definition of tobacco use and the level of risk associated with different forms of tobacco and nicotine use can vary between insurance companies. This is why it is important to be truthful and accurate in disclosing your use of tobacco and nicotine products to ensure that your agent might be able to use this information to guide you to the “best life insurance company” for you.
What if I lie? How would an insurance company be able to tell?
If you lie about your tobacco use when applying for life insurance, there is a risk that the insurance company will find out, either during the application process or after your policy is in place. Insurance companies have various methods to verify the accuracy of information provided by applicants, including:
- Medical exams: Some insurance companies may require a medical exam as part of the application process, which includes a blood and urine sample. The sample can be tested for nicotine and other substances that may indicate tobacco use.
- Medical records: Insurance companies may also request access to your medical records to check for any previous treatments or diagnoses related to tobacco use.
- Prescription drug records: If you are using nicotine replacement products such as gum or patches, this information may be included in your prescription drug records.
- MIB (Medical Information Bureau) check: The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) is a database of insurance claims that can be accessed by insurance companies. If you have applied for life insurance in the past, the information provided in your previous application may be recorded in the MIB database and may be used to verify the information provided in your current application.
If an insurance company discovers that you lied about your tobacco use, they may cancel your policy or refuse to pay out your death benefit. It is always important to be truthful and accurate when applying for life insurance to ensure that you receive the right policy for your needs and that your beneficiaries receive the death benefit in the event of your death.
Particularly if you also suffer from some other “type” of pre-existing medical condition combined with your tobacco use, which would have caused the insurance company to deny your application.
People who suffer from:
Can and often will be able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy.
However, when a condition like this is combined with current tobacco use (of any kind), most life insurance companies won’t be willing to provide coverage.
This means that if you suffer from a condition like this and you lie about your usage, the is a chance that a life insurance company would “contest” your policy in which case your loved ones might not receive the coverage you thought you were buying for them!
How long does one need to quit using tobacco before they will be considered a “non-tobacco” user?
The length of time that you need to quit using tobacco before you are considered a “non-tobacco” user varies depending on the insurance company. Generally, insurance companies consider you a non-tobacco user after you have been nicotine-free for a certain period of time, usually ranging from 1 to 2 years.
Additionally, some insurance companies may offer lower rates for individuals who have quit using tobacco for a shorter period of time, but these rates may still be higher than those offered to individuals who have never used tobacco.
In situations where someone may be just a few months shy of qualifying for a non-tobacco rate, we’ll often recommend purchasing a life insurance policy with a tobacco rating and then simply reapplying for coverage later when they will presumably be able to qualify for a better rate. This is especially important for someone who may lack any insurance.
Types of life insurance policies
Tobacco users have a few options when it comes to life insurance policies, including:
- Standard/Traditional Life Insurance: This type of policy is available to both non-tobacco and tobacco users, but the premium rates for tobacco users are typically higher than those for non-tobacco users.
- Simplified Issue Life Insurance: This type of policy is designed for individuals who have health concerns, including tobacco use. It typically involves a streamlined application process, with fewer health questions and no medical exam required. However, the premiums for tobacco users may still be higher than for non-tobacco users.
- Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance: This type of policy does not require a medical exam or health questions, making it a good option for individuals who have health conditions, including tobacco use. However, the death benefit is usually limited and premiums are often higher than for other types of policies.
It is important to consider your specific needs and budget when choosing a life insurance policy and to compare options from multiple insurance companies to find the best policy for you.
What “types” of life insurance policies won’t differentiate between smokers and non-smokers?
Now sometimes, quitting or waiting one or two years to qualify for a “rate” that one can afford isn’t an option. After all, if quitting was easy, there probably wouldn’t be as many smokers in this world as there are today, and there probably wouldn’t billion-dollar industry in place to help folks quit!
This is why we now want to shift gears a bit and talk about what “kind” of life insurance policies may be available to those who either can’t quit smoking or aren’t all that interested in trying! You see, there are a couple of different “types” of life insurance policies (mainly simplified issue or guaranteed issue life insurance policies) that aren’t going to “test” or even “ask” an individual whether or not they use any kind of tobacco products.
These “types” of life insurance policies will certainly be a great opportunity for some; it’s important to note that these policies come with some drawbacks, such as limited coverage amounts and higher premiums compared to other life insurance policies. They also come with a Graded Death Benefit, meaning they won’t cover death from natural causes until a certain waiting period has elapsed (usually 2-3 years).
But the silver lining is that these policies provide immediate coverage for accidental death and may even offer a return of premium to beneficiaries. Think of it as a small Accidental Death Policy that will eventually turn into a full-fledged life insurance policy once the graded death benefit has lapsed.
What can I do to help insure I get the best tobacco life insurance rate?
As you can see, when it comes time to qualifying for the best life insurance rates, lots of factors can come into play.
First, we need to understand what you’re hoping to achieve by purchasing your life insurance policy.
Then from there, we’ll need to figure out “which” life insurance company is going to provide you with the best opportunity for success.
Which means that…
You’re going to want to make sure that the agent that you choose to work with asks the right questions, understands what “kind” of tobacco you use, and understands there certain life insurance companies will have different underwriting guidelines that they are going to use when making decisions about the “kind” of rate you might be able to qualify for.
You’re still going to need an agent that is going to have access to the different life insurance companies that may be the “best” for you.
This is why we here at IBUSA work so hard to establish and maintain relationships with so many different insurance companies so that when we have a client like yourself give us a call, we don’t have to rely on just one or two different insurance companies.
We can simultaneously shop dozens of different life insurance carriers to find the “best” one for you! So, give us a call and allow us to help you and your family out.