Amanda Hester

Life insurance is vital to secure your family’s finances in the event of your death. When buying a life insurance policy, you will find that several factors can affect its cost. Tobacco use is one of the most crucial factors that determine the cost of your life insurance, but you can minimize these effects.

Who is considered a smoker?

A life insurer is likely to ask about your tobacco use when you are applying for their insurance policy. They usually look at your tobacco use history in the last 6 to 12 months. For life insurance purposes, tobacco use includes using cigarettes, hookah, pipes, or anything with nicotine. 

While insurance policies differ, they all have similar rules regarding nicotine use. Insurers charge those who smoke cigarettes, vapes, and other nicotine products higher than nonsmokers. 

You should be honest about your smoking habits when taking a life insurance policy. If your insurer finds out that you lied about or omitted your smoking history on your application, that can make your whole policy invalid. Even if your death is not from smoking-related complications, your family members may not receive your death benefits. Or, the insurance company may subtract the extra premiums you should have paid for being a smoker from your beneficiaries’ payout. Lying on your insurance application is considered fraud, so your insurance provider can also try to charge you for this crime.

Who qualifies as a nonsmoker?

Life insurers consider clients nonsmokers if they smoke cigarettes or other nicotine products infrequently or not at all. For example, you can get a non-smoking rate if you smoke one pack or less a month. Someone will also be considered a nonsmoker if they haven’t had a cigarette or used tobacco in the last year.

If your smoking habits change once you are insured, you should update your insurer. This prevents your insurance from being voided if you become a smoker without informing your insurer and die of smoking-related causes. You should also report to your insurer if you haven’t smoked in 12 months, as they may be able to lower your premiums. 

How much does life insurance for smokers cost?

Life insurance premiums are more expensive for smokers than nonsmokers. Premiums can be 40% to 100% higher for smokers, depending on an individual’s health history. The overall cost of insurance can be four times more expensive for smokers.

Insurers often hike the premium cost for smokers regardless of how much they smoke. However, heavy smokers pay more than those who smoke less frequently. You should get a life insurance quote based on your personal information to find out how much you might pay. 

Smokers will pay a high premium because smoking increases the risk of health conditions. They have an elevated risk of having heart attacks, lung diseases, and certain cancers. Smokers can also suffer from chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Ultimately, smokers tend to have a shorter lifespan. This is why their life insurance premium is higher than nonsmokers.

Life insurance facts for smokers

  • Don’t let tobacco use deter you from getting life insurance coverage. Life insurance is a necessary investment to provide financial security after your death. If you die while the policy is still active, your beneficiaries get a specific amount of money to cover loans and mortgages.
  • Quitting smoking can benefit your health and lower your insurance rates.
  • You can qualify as a nonsmoker if you quit smoking for about 12 months. So quitting now can save you a lot of money just one year from now.

Life insurance for smokeless tobacco users 

Life insurance for smokeless tobacco users is also more expensive than coverage for nonsmokers. As with smoking, insurance companies will classify you as a user based on whether you have used tobacco in the past 12 months. Before issuing your policy, they wil also determine whether there are nicotine substances in your bloodstream. 

Some insurers may offer you a nonsmoker rate if you don’t smoke cigarettes, even if you test positive for nicotine. However, others consider tobacco use as posing a similar health risk. So, you will pay the same or similar rates whether you are a smoker or a smokeless tobacco user. 

Term life insurance quotes for smokers

A term life insurance policy has a level premium and fixed death benefit that your beneficiaries will receive if you die within a specified term. You can apply for new coverage if you survive the term length set out in the policy. Consider taking a term policy if you plan to stop smoking. If you’ve been smoke-free for at least two years, you can apply for a level-term life insurance policy. 

The minimum age for a smoker to buy term insurance is 18 years, and the maximum age is 75 years. The term insurance policy for a smoker ranges between 5 and 10 years. Following this term, you must apply for new coverage. A smoker must pay an annual premium for their term insurance policy.

Benefits of quitting smoking in your 20’s

Quitting smoking in your 20’s gives you a better life expectancy and quality of life in your middle age. When you quit before age 50, you can regain your health and live like a nonsmoker. Therefore, you will live longer and report better health.

Quitting as early as possible has the added benefit of lowering your life insurance policy costs.

If you want to quit smoking, get a short-term policy and then a new policy as a nonsmoker later. This way, you can enjoy cheaper life insurance.


Can insurers deny you life insurance if you smoke?

No, you won’t be denied life insurance if you smoke. However, you will pay higher rates. Insurers can only deny you life insurance coverage if you lie about your smoking habit on the application. Also, if you already have a medical condition related to smoking, you can be denied lie insurance because of this pre-existing condition.

Can a smoker find cheaper insurance rates?

While smokers pay higher life insurance rates, you can shop around for competitive quotes. The rates differ based on the insurance company. A life insurance agent can help you compare quotes from multiple companies.

Does chewing tobacco affect life insurance?

Yes, chewing tobacco can also affect your life insurance. This is because anything associated with nicotine is treated as tobacco use. Insurers treat chewing tobacco the same as smoking. How frequenlty you use chewing tobacco will affect your insurance coverage cost.

Do life insurance companies test for nicotine?

While life insurers will not randomly test for tobacco use, they will test your blood, urine, or saliva before approving your application. These tests can detect any nicotine in your system, especially if you’ve used a tobacco product recently. This is one of the reasons why it is not wise to lie about smoking on your insurance application. 

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