Should You Hide That You Smoke From Your Life Insurance Company?

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Margaret Huntley 03-05-2021

Getting the Best Life Insurance As a Smoker

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There’s nothing worse than shopping around for life insurance as a smoker and finding out that your premiums are 2-3 times higher than nonsmoker rates. It may feel like insurance companies are being unfair to you, but smoking, unfortunately, comes with many health risks, so that extra liability results in higher premiums.

To save money upfront, you might consider downplaying your smoking habits or addiction but, we promise you that’s a very bad idea. You don’t want to be caught lying to your insurance provider, as your policy will be canceled. Instead, be honest, so you can get the life insurance plan that meets your needs without the headache of trying to deceive your provider.

What Smokers Should Know About Buying Life Insurance?

The first thing smokers should know about buying life insurance is the definition of “smoker”. 

Insurance company’s definition of a smoker is farther reaching than you may realize, which could explain why some applicants may not label themselves as smokers. So to clear things up, these are the key points that determine if you’re a smoker or not:

  • How much do you smoke: To be considered a tobacco user means you smoke daily (addicts) or frequently (recreational). So if you don’t smoke cigarettes, but every weekend you enjoy a cigar, you’d still qualify as a smoker.
  • Types of tobacco: Smoking doesn’t just mean cigarettes. Smoking encompasses any tobacco product from cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or nicotine products (gum or patches). Some insurance providers may consider marijuana users as smokers.
  • Irregular or “celebratory” smokers: If you smoke any tobacco product under 12 times a year, you’re considered a nonsmoker.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay In The Body?

Nicotine remains detectable in your blood for up to 3 days, while cotinine (your body metabolizes nicotine and cotinine) remains present for a week. However, nicotine is present in the urine for a month.

Starting Smoking, Quitting And Good Intentions

At any point, you can make changes to your pre-existing policy. These are some smoking-related reasons why you should adjust your policy:

  • New Smoker: If you take up smoking on a more than celebratory basis and have an existing life insurance plan, you should call your provider immediately to update your policy.
  • Quitting: For ex-smokers, you won’t be eligible for nonsmoker rates a couple of months after kicking the habit, but after 1-3 years pass (timeframe is dependent upon insurance company), you’ll likely qualify for cheaper rates — contingent on your current overall health.
  • Good Intentions: Some insurance providers offer “good intention” rates to incentivize smokers to quit by offering a rate reduction to qualifying variable or universal policies.

Life Insurance Policies For Smokers

Because of smoking-associated health risks, smoker’s policies, on average, are between 2-3 times more expensive than nonsmokers. Rates for smokers are dependent upon your age, general health, gender, and coverage options (term and amount). 

These are the average life insurance rates for smokers in regular health looking for a 10-year term policy for $250,000:

For Men (Age and Rate):For Women (Age and Rate):
30 for $55430 for $439
40 for $86540 for $692
50 for $196850 for $1487
60 for $442260 for $3088

What Happens If You’re Caught Lying?

Smoking is a lifestyle choice. Unfortunately, it can negatively affect your health, so when you’re applying for life insurance, if smoking is a habit you’d rather keep, then you’ll have to shoulder the weight of higher premiums. As tempting as it may be to fudge your application, especially if you don’t identify as a smoker, the risk of being found out is a much worse threat than paying higher rates.

Insurance companies utilize many methods to verify the information you provide on your application. One of their first lines of defense is the medical exam that will capture a snapshot of your health via urine or blood samples to ascertain if you’re a smoker (or not). Some other ways insurance companies determine if you’re lying are:

  • Doctors records
  • Social media
  • Previous insurance provider records
  • Prescription history
  • Tone of voice — yes, there are analytics programs providers use to flag potential smokers.

If you fail to mention you smoke, your provider can devoid your policy. If, for instance, an autopsy reveals you succumb to a smoking-related illness at the time of your death, your insurance policy doesn’t have to pay out to your beneficiaries. However, if your lie is uncovered through the normal investigative channels, it can result in policy termination.

Should You Omit That You’re A Smoker To Your Insurance Provider?

The answer is no; you shouldn’t. With all the resources available to insurance providers — including your social media accounts — it’s too easy to be caught in a lie, so why take the chance? Wouldn’t it be better to have peace of mind that you and your beneficiaries are covered no matter what life has in store for you?

Margaret HuntleyMargaret Huntley is a creative writing and philosophy student at Western University. She has been working as a freelance writer for over two years and has written about everything from insurance, to poker, to health and wellness for international businesses.