Is No Exam Life Insurance For Smokers A Good Idea?
No exam life insurance for smokers is one option if you smoke – but is it the right path for you? Smoking impacts your rates dramatically.
Hey, I’m not here to candy coat things for you...if you’re a smoker you’re well aware that it’s not good for your health. But there’s no way around it, this habit will absolutely increase your premiums.
I’m writing this post because it’s important for people to see the cold facts when it comes to life insurance Smoker vs Non Smoker.
Once you get your mind around the numbers there are a lot of things to consider when you apply for coverage.
Get yourself comfortable, because I’m going to go through all the factors that influence how much you’ll pay AND the way people look at different types of smoking right now!
Rates for Life Insurance Smoker vs Non Smoker
STOP right now…
…smoking that is! If you like to keep your money in your pocket then you absolutely need to quit smoking today.
This is one of those behaviours that impact your rates SUBSTANTIALLY. If you read my high-risk article you know that most are healthier than they think when it comes to the way underwriters view you as an applicant.
This is not the case at all when it comes to smoking.
Life insurance companies don’t like it.
This is illustrated through the numbers. I don’t want to go on about it because the facts speak for themselves. So I’m going to lay out some figures for you to peruse and then we can get into the nitty-gritty.
Empire Life Smoking Rates
$217.35 Per Month
30 Year Term
Empire Life Non-Smoking Rates
$92.70 Per Month
30 Year Term
If You Smoke That's $44,874 MORE Over Your Term!
Smoker vs Non Smoker
Higher Risk Means Higher Rates
It’s basic cause and effect. You smoke, which means you’re more likely to get sick and decrease your lifespan.
I think a lot of people want me to tippy toe around this issue but the science is in. Tobacco products are no good for you and underwriters will penalize you.
Nothing positive comes out of smoking cigarettes. If you have any doubt let’s take a look at the laundry list of negative effects right now:
Circulatory, Heart Issues & Brain Health
Tobacco is not the biggest problem when it comes to smoking. It’s the tar. Did you know tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals? Yep. And it gets worse from there:
Two hundred fifty of those chemicals—including carbon monoxide, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide—are known to be harmful to smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke. Of those, 69 are known to cause cancer.
The thing is when you smoke cigarettes the tar gets into your bloodstream and it thickens the blood.
This elevates your blood pressure and heart rate. It also narrows your arteries which prevents oxygenated blood from circulating freely to the rest of your body.
These combined factors increase your chances of having a stroke or cardiac issues.
Mouth, Throat & Stomach Issues
Smoking really causes problems everywhere.
Even if we overlook the more superficial issues like stained teeth and gum disease. There are a plethora of life-threatening maladies that are spurred by smoking:
- Cancer of the lips, tongue, throat, voice-box & esophagus. Nearly all of these cancers are caused by smoking.
- Stomach cancer, ulcers, and acid reflux
- Kidney cancer
Ok, I’m not even going to deal with the less serious lung-related issues created by smoking such an increase in colds, chronic cough, and asthma.
But smoking really does serious damage to your lungs such as:
- Lung cancer
If your skin is important you should definitely quit smoking. It can literally add decades to your looks and no one wants to do that.
When you smoke your skin is deprived of oxygen, not to mention the fact that your body doesn’t react optimally when it comes to circulation. This creates wrinkles and gaunt, sallow skin.
The toxins that accumulate in your body also promote cellulite. Hmmm – not life threatening or life insurance related – but no good for your appearance.
Reproductive & Fertility Issues
If you want to have a baby then you should throw out the cigarettes.
Both men and women are less fertile when they smoke. BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. Cervical cancer, HPV, miscarriages, premature labor, and SIDs are all more common for people who smoke.
If you’re looking to start a family, quit smoking its good for your health and the health of your child/ren.
Smoker vs Non Smoker
Underwriters & Your Life Insurance Application
So when you apply for a traditional term or permanent life insurance policy you’re required to have a physical and answer a battery of questions.
This will give the underwriters a good idea of your health so they can determine the risk they incur by insuring you. Life insurance is a business, which means ideally they don’t want to pay out claims. Their goal is to make sure they insure people who live to the end of their term.
That is not to say they don’t pay out. They absolutely do if and when the time comes.
If you’re a smoker, because you have a higher chance of having a stroke, cancer (lung, stomach, cervical, oral, esophageal or kidney), COPD, Emphysema or Heart Issues an underwriter views you as an increased risk.
This translates into premiums that are more than double those a nonsmoker pays.
Lying About Smoking on a Life Insurance Application
When it comes to a life insurance application, full disclosure is the best policy.
It may be tempting to fudge the truth or omit what you may feel is a small detail. But I’m here to tell you, it’s a bad idea and could seriously jeopardize your coverage if your loved ones ever make a claim.
How do life insurance companies know if you smoke?
They thoroughly test your urine for the biomarker, Cotinine, which is only produced when nicotine is metabolized. It can remain in your system for days, weeks and even months.
Lying is FRAUD
Not only is it illegal to lie on a life application but in the worst case scenario, the life insurance company may deny your family’s claim to pay out the death benefit and simply return all the premiums.
As far as they’re concerned, you misrepresented the facts so the insurance contract is now void. Did you know that the highest incidence of life insurance fraud occurs around the question: are you a smoker?
For example, as far as major Canadian Insurance Companies go:
You’re considered a smoker if you have used any tobacco products whatsoever within the past 12 months, no matter how small the amount. This includes “social” smoking, mixing tobacco with your marijuana, e-cigarette usage, hookahs, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and nicotine patches or gum. You are however permitted to smoke up to one cigar per month and still be classified as a non-smoker.
Smoker vs Non Smoker
Is All Smoking Created Equal?
So as you can see, not everyone smokes cigarettes…and because the tar is a big issue what does that mean for people who use other methods and products?
Do underwriters view them the same way?
Cigars: It's All About How Often You Partake
Well, I’ve got some good news for you! If you partake in the occasional cigar, which I do by the way (psst and I was completely transparent about this when I applied for life insurance)…
….most life insurance companies won’t rate you like a cigarette smoker.
That is if you smoke one cigar per month and test negative for cotinine. Cotinine is the marker labs use to detect smoke inhalation.
Once again, not all life insurance companies are created equal. Which means some insurers are more lenient than others when it comes to smoking cigars.
One cigar per month or less = Non-smoker
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
We all know of someone who has tried to quit smoking and has used a patch or nicotine chewing gum.
Is it hard to stop smoking? Absolutely, just a ask a smoker. Different studies, including one from the University of Toronto, suggest it can take anywhere from 10 to 30 attempts for an individual to quit smoking for good.
“There have been studies that suggest nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. Because of that, attempts to quit are often unsuccessful because of withdrawal, stress, and weight gain.”
One of the most well-known smoking cessation strategies is Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRP). It works by delivering some of the nicotine you get from cigarettes through chewing gum or an adhesive patch you wear on your skin.
The idea is to ease withdrawal symptoms and slowly reduce the nicotine dose over time so you get used to being smoke – free.
So if you’ve quit smoking and are using the patch or chewing gum, you can’t be categorized as a smoker right?
Wrong, both gum and patch are considered nicotine products. As far as insurance companies are concerned chewing Nicorette or wearing a Nicoderm patch = Smoking.
What is Hookah?
A Hookah is a water pipe that is used to smoke different flavours of tobacco.
It burns charcoal to heat the tobacco or herbs which then produces smoke. The smoke travels through water, cooling it down before it is inhaled. Hookah originated in the 16th century in the Middle East and India.
The thing is, as far as underwriters are concerned it’s potentially even more dangerous than cigarettes.
The charcoal used to heat the flavoured tobacco emits high amounts of carbon monoxide, metals and cancer-causing compounds.
In fact, a recent study found high levels of benzene present in hookah smokers and non-smokers after attending social events where the water pipes were used.
Exposure to benzene is a known risk factor for leukemia. During a one-hour hookah session, a typical user will take 200 puffs which are the equivalent of smoking 10 cigarettes.
Regular or social Hookah use = Smoking
E-Cigarettes - Vaping Life Insurance
E-cigarettes or vaping products have become increasingly popular today, especially with young people.
Early versions resembled cigarettes but now vaping products have gone into high tech USB sticks with flashing lights. There’s no question these are being marketed to kids.
How do they work? E-cigarettes heat up liquid nicotine which is vaporized and then inhaled. Some people consider them a smoking cessation tool because they replicate the activity of smoking.
However, the jury is out as to whether they do indeed help folks quit. Some argue that vaping products actually make it worse, increasing the risk of returning to smoking tobacco.
So what do the underwriters think about vaping? You guessed it, E-cigarette Use = Smoking.
Chewing tobacco also known as “smokeless” tobacco contains high amounts of nicotine and as such is lumped in with smoking cigarettes.
It’s a numbers game. Life insurance companies know through their actuary tables that any type of nicotine consumption has an effect on mortality rates.
Don’t think because you’re not smoking it that they can’t test for it. Chewing tobacco usage will show up on your life insurance blood test.
Chewing Tobacco = Smoking
Marijuana! The New Frontier
Life insurance and marijuana have been in the news a lot recently.
In October 2018, the manufacture, distribution, possession, and use of marijuana became legal across Canada!
In terms of underwriting cannabis use is still a murky area as there is a limited amount of data available for life insurance companies to scrutinize.
Suffices to say, the recreational use of pot is now considered to be a much lower risk activity.
Previous to 2016, marijuana users were automatically lumped in with smokers. Now, casual cannabis users are eligible for standard non-smoker rates provided they don’t smoke any tobacco products mixed in with their pot.
Occasional marijuana smoking with NO tobacco = non-smoker
Life Insurance Rates Are Specific To The Individual
As you can see traditional smoking rates are exponentially higher than non smoking rates. In fact, it’s truly off the charts.
The thing is if you are a smoker there’s no guarantee you won’t be rated too. The numbers I gave you are for a “healthy” smoker.
But what if you have other maladies. Well then, you may be rated and/or declined. Each and every situation is unique. This is why it’s all well and good to do your homework to see where you “may” stand…
…but at the end of the day it really depends on your individual circumstances.
Smokers Should Always Work with an Independent Life Insurance Agent!
This is why it’s so important to contact an independent life insurance agent.
We have the inside scoop on the best life insurance companies in Canada. The real work begins when we go through your personal medical history to evaluate how much insurance you need to comfortably protect your family.
We sift through the insurers to find the company that will be the most lenient for your particular situation.
If you get nothing else from this article, you’ll grasp the fact that an independent agent can work with you to attain your goals in a very personalized way.
I can’t count how many clients I’ve worked with that ended up with a completely different product or carrier than they originally came to purchase.
What About the Exam?
A lot of my clients sweat the life insurance exam.
I get it. No one really looks forward to the results of their yearly physical because there is an element of the unknown and let’s face it things can go wrong.
I’m here to say more often than not these exams go off without a hitch and the results are usually not earth-shaking. I always encourage my clients to prepare for the exam, however.
There are a lot of little things you can do to optimize your results.
How You Can Maximize Your Test Results
- Change up your diet: Oust the sugar, fried and processed foods and refined carbohydrates and opt for fresh fruit vegetables and healthy fats instead.
- Cut down your salt intake
- Hydrate! Drink 8 glasses of water per day.
- Cut out alcohol one week before your exam.
- Get some serious R&R.
- Don’t work out the night before. Yes, strangely this can spike your cholesterol and protein levels.
- The night before the exam skip your late night snack.
- I recommend getting your exam first thing in the morning after at least 8 hours of fasting during sleep as long as it’s ok with your doctor.
- Don’t indulge in that cuppa joe the morning of the exam.
- Don’t eat foods that notoriously create false positives like poppy seeds, over the counter decongestants, vitamin b12, sleeping pills, and tonic water.
These tips are especially important if you’re a smoker. The better your test results, the more affordable your premiums will be – and this is especially important if you’re already entering the application process with a disadvantage.
NOTE: If you’re a cigar smoker you want to make sure that cotinine doesn’t show up in your test results. This means if you smoke a stogie every month you need to take a look at how long it remains in your system. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. The typical test used is a urine test although insurance companies can test blood, saliva or hair all of which are more accurate methods. To play it safe you should not have a cigar 2 weeks before your exam.
Smoker vs Non Smoker
I Quit Smoking NOW WHAT?
Well, this is terrific news! You’re now on a new path and your body is incredibly resilient and will regenerate itself. It’s really amazing to see how quickly this happens…
…and life insurance underwriters acknowledge that by allowing people who quit smoking for longer than a year to jump back into the non-smoking pool at a standard rating.
This is terrific news for people who are looking to kick the habit.
But how does it work?
If you have life insurance in force as a smoker and you’ve been tobacco-free for a year or more, you’re eligible to request non-smoker rates. You’ll need to fill out an Application for Change to Non-Smoker Rates and provide medical evidence.
.....So Now What?
After you successfully fulfill these requirements, the insurance company will re-categorize you as a non-smoker and your insurance rates will drop accordingly.
The thing is if you’re thinking about putting off your life insurance purchase until you quit smoking think again.
This is a bad idea because a year is a very long time. You want protection for your family as soon as possible.
Apply for life insurance, embark on your healthy lifestyle and we can petition the insurer to reevaluate your coverage. That way you have continuous protection. You can also consider obtaining a no exam policy beforehand to make sure you are covered no matter what.
No Exam Life Insurance For Smokers - Is This the Way to Go?
As you can see smoking definitely escalates your insurance premiums which negate a lot of the positivity of a medical exam.
So does no exam life insurance for smokers make sense if you smoke and have no intention of quitting?
No medical exam life insurance is a terrific product and really helps a lot of people who are in a rush, have serious health concerns or people who are simply terrified of doctors.
It’s fast, easy and does the trick.
Let’s review some numbers to see if No Medical Exam for Smokers works better than traditional term right now:
Cost of No Exam Life Insurance For Smokers
Cost of Traditional Life Insurance For Smokers
No Exam Life Insurance For Smokers Costs 34% More!
As you can see, you pay substantially more for the convenience of securing a no medical life insurance policy.
How much more? Over the life of the policy, Canada Protection Plan will cost $28,944 compared with $21,580 for Equitable Life. That’s a difference of $7,363!
No exam life insurance for smokers only makes sense if you have additional health issues, for example, diabetes.
If you’re a healthy smoker – is that an oxymoron? Your best bet is to apply for medically underwritten term insurance before going the no medical route.
Better protection, higher coverage amounts and longer terms (ie. term 30) are some of the advantages of traditional term life insurance.
Ultimately, a quick chat with an experienced independent agent will set you on the right path to the most affordable coverage.
NOTE* The longest no medical term life insurance available in Canada is 25 year term.
No Exam Life Insurance For Smokers - The Bottom Line
Well, well, well! Now you know all the ins and outs of Life Insurance Smoker vs Non-Smoker.
Smoking is costly when it comes to your personal health AND bank account. If you’re looking for traditional term life insurance expect to pay more than double than your non-smoking counterpart.
But that may just be the tip of the iceberg. Depending on your personal circumstances you may be seriously rated or even declined altogether.
This is why you need to contact an independent life insurance agent as soon as possible. We work with the best life insurance companies in Canada and know which carriers are most lenient for smokers.
No stone is left unturned. We go through all your details and help you determine how much coverage you need and can comfortably afford. Then we send your application to the best possible insurer.