Can I Get Life Insurance If I Smoke? You Sure Can But It'll Cost Ya!
Can I get life insurance if I smoke? You sure can – but it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.
This is a common question. Probably because health anxiety is prevalent among people who are looking for insurance.
I think a lot of it has to do with the unknown nature of your physical wellbeing until you get the actual results back. Hey let’s face it, no one really enjoys having blood drawn at the doc.
Almost all of us have that moment or two when we think – what if something is wrong?
The good news is, thankfully most of us are healthier than we think.
…but what if you smoke? Does that knock you out of the running for life insurance coverage altogether?
My Name is James Heidebrecht - I'm the Founder of Policy Architects and I Smoke the Occasional Cigar
Yep, I sure do! Don’t get me wrong I don’t partake often, it’s a celebratory sort of thing. My brother and I like to hang out on his front porch on the first warm day to celebrate spring with a nice bottle of red wine…
…I also had one when my son was born and when I got married. You get the trend right? It’s a once in a blue moon sort of thing.
So did I tell my agent when I bought my policy? After all, I rarely smoke a cigar. Why risk it right?
WRONG, of course, I told him! If I left this bit of information out it would be fraud and my beneficiaries won’t get paid out if I die during my term.
Transparency is very important.
But I bet you’re asking yourself if this disclosure impacted my application process? Not really.
That’s because life insurance companies don’t equate smoking cigarettes with smoking the occasional cigar. We are going to into this more below.
Good News! YES You Can Get Life Insurance If You Smoke
If you are wondering – can I get life insurance if I smoke?
I have some good news for you, YES you can!
But there are definitely some things you need to think about BEFORE you apply for life insurance as a smoker.
Remember life insurance is all about assessing risk friends. When you answer the questions your agent poses and take that medical exam – the life insurance company compiles that data and assigns you a “rating”.
A rating is a way to put you into a risk category that corresponds with your age. Your rating determines what you pay.
People called underwriters are professionals that are tasked with coming up with your rating. They consider your personal medical condition, that of your immediate family, your lifestyle and age to generate your monthly or annual premium.
One of the more fulfilling parts of my job as a doctor is helping people to quit smoking.
Physicians have a front-row seat to the bodily harm tobacco smoking can cause. When I assess a patient who is a smoker, I do it through that lens.
I know that patient is at higher risk for developing lung disease, like COPD, and is more vulnerable to chest infections.
They are at higher risk for lung cancer — that’s the one that we are all familiar with when it comes to smoking — but also for cancers of the bladder, colon, mouth, sinuses, throat, kidneys, pancreas and others.
One of the First Things Underwriters Notice is Your Smoking Status
Yep! This is because smoking is known to reduce the number of years you will be on this planet. To give you an idea of how harmful smoking is…
…the life expectancy of a smoker is a full decade less than a smoker. OUCH!
This is the reason smokers pay a heck of a lot more for their habit if they want life insurance coverage. So if you are following my blog and took note of the rates for a standard nonsmoking applicant you CAN’T rely on them if you are a smoker.
What Do You Smoke & Why It Matters
Not all smoking is created equal. By this, I mean that underwriters look at smoking cigarettes differently than smoking the occasional cigar.
Why? Because the effects on the body are different. So let’s see how various products come to play when it comes to filling out your life insurance application.
Life Insurance & The Occasional Cigar
Well, I have excellent news for occasional cigar smokers!
For the most part, life insurance companies will not rate you as a smoker.
It’s all about quantity. If you smoke one per month and don’t test positive for cotinine in your medical exam voila!
But please beware – some life insurance companies are far more lenient when it comes to smoking than others. This means speaking to an independent agent to select the right company for you is imperative.
So for your purposes: One cigar per month or less translates into nonsmoking rates.
Life Insurance & Cigarettes
Sorry guys and gals! If you smoke cigarettes you get a smoking rate period. There is no way around this, even if you are only an occasional smoker.
This is because of the incredibly negative impact smoking has on your health.
If you think I am exaggerating take a look at this list:
- 50% increased chance of stroke
- COPD & Lung Cancer
- Doubles your chance for having a heart attack
- Risk of stomach cancer and ulcers
- Increased risk of osteoperosis
- Mouth & throat cancers
This is a terrific reason to start cessation treatments today!
Life Insurance & Marijuana
Life insurance and marijuana have been in the news a lot recently.
This is an exciting time for people who enjoy smoking a little pot. In October 2018 Canada legalized it, so we are in new waters.
Cannabis underwriting is still not 100% clear as companies lack data to make any broad changes but as it stands smoking marijuana is considered to be safer than cigarette smoking.
If you casually use marijuana you may be eligible for standard non-smoker rates provided you don’t mix it with nicotine.YES!
Be sure to consult an independent life insurance agent about what the insurer you choose considers occasional use. Not all companies are created equal.
Life Insurance & Vaping
If I used E-cigarettes or I vape that’s not really smoking is it?
Yep! Sorry to say, you absolutely will be rated as a smoker if you vape or use e-cigarettes. In fact, this is a changing area of life insurance.
There have been a number of people who have developed serious medical issues such as popcorn lung so insurers may have to evaluate whether they want to cover this class altogether.
Keep your eyes on this space.
If you want to read more about smoking and life insurance check out our more in-depth article below!
Can I Get Life Insurance If I Smoke?
Sure But You Should Check Out the Smoking Rates!
30 Year Old Female Smoker in Average Health:
So let’s say this client is looking for $500K of coverage for 30 years. Wawanesa offers her premiums at $69.75 per month.
If that same client was a nonsmoker she pays only $34.50 per month with RBC (they give her the best rates).
While those numbers may not seem wildly different over 30 years the nonsmoker saves $12,690!
30 Year Old Female Smoker in EXCELLENT Health:
Let’s see if health matters if you are a smoker. If that same smoking client came to see me in excellent shape would she pay less?
Nope – not that much.
She still pays quite a bit more than the nonsmoker at $60.30 with Wawanesa.
It’s evident how much emphasis underwriters place on our client’s smoking habit.
43 Year Old Male Smoker in Average Health:
Ok well, these rates don’t’ break the bank. Let’s take a look at a male client in his 40’s looking for $500k of coverage for 30 years next. This gentleman is in average shape and gets a standard rating from RBC. His premiums are $283.78 per month.
If he didn’t smoke his premiums with RBC are $118.34.
Smoking costs this client almost $60,000 more over the course of their term. WHOA!
So you can see how this can get out of hand right?
If you are asking yourself can I get life insurance if I smoke – the answer is SURE but it’s going cost you a LOT MORE! Possibly even $10’s of thousands more over your term.
Is it worth it?
Take Heart! There Are Some Solutions For Smokers
If you need life insurance and you’re a smoker DON’T put off getting covered until you quit smoking. In my experience, this is never a good idea and may leave your family unprotected if a worst-case scenario unfolds.
My first bit of advice? Call Policy Architects to find the best insurer for your particular situation. We target the most lenient company for smokers and will find you the best possible deal.
Then start a smoking cessation plan. It’s important to record your goals with your GP. Once 12 months have elapsed you sign a document declaring you no longer smoke to be reassessed for a lower rate.
The good part about this approach is you’re covered throughout.
Call Policy Architects Today If You're a Smoker
Can I get life insurance if I smoke? You sure can, but prepared to spend a lot more than a nonsmoker.
If you smoke, it’s even more important for you to work with an independent life insurance agent to find the best possible company for your needs.
I constantly stress that working with an independent agent saves you time, money and hassle. As a smoker, this takes on even more importance.
My best advice? Give up smoking if you can. It really does take a toll on your health and it will save you thousands on life insurance premiums.
Hey – losing 10 years of life with your loved ones is a very high price to pay.
Give Policy Architects a call today. We can help!