If you are a smoker or use any type of tobacco, we know that finding affordable life insurance can be difficult. Premiums are nearly double or triple compared to that of non smokers. Luckily, we work with one carrier that will provide non smoker life insurance rates for smokers. (In other words, they will apply non tobacco life insurance rates for tobacco users.) There are specific provisions you need to meet, but we have helped many smokers save money with this life insurance. If you simply want to find out more, insert your information directly below, and we will be in touch with the information. Otherwise, read on to learn how smokers can obtain non smoker life insurance rates.
The Carrier Matters
Every insurance carrier defines a smoker differently. Some carriers will include all tobacco users (i.e. smokeless tobacco and cigar) as a smoker. Other carriers might classify a cigar, chew, and/or an electronic cigarette as a non smoker. Moreover, some carriers might define a smoker as someone who in the past 3 years have smoked. Others might define someone in the last 5 years. If you quit in year 4, then you would want to look into the first carrier and not the second.
Why are we saying this? Because your smoking/tobacco habits, and what you smoke (including marijuana), will determine which carrier is best for you. You can’t just blindly pick a carrier and apply. You could end up spending thousands of your hard-earned money for no reason! (We at My Family Life Insurance won’t allow you to do that!)
The Definition Matters
The carrier matters because of its definition of tobacco use / smoking matters. For the most part, all carriers define smoking as tobacco use drawn from a cigarette or electronic cigarette. (Yes, most carriers consider e-cigarettes as smoking). You must be nicotine-free for at least a year before you can qualify for non smoker rates, There are some carriers which will regard the occasional use of cigarettes as non smoking. We will get to that in a minute.
Where definitions start to divide is the definition of a non smoker (non tobacco user).
Nearly all carriers define a non smoker as someone who does not use tobacco or smoke for a year (12 months). At that point, you are eligible for standard rating and nothing better. (Some carriers offer a standard “plus” rating if your health meets certain positive criteria, but you will never go beyond standard).
Once you are three years removed from smoking, you will start to feel the financial benefits. Not only will you have saved quite a bit of money (the average smoker spends over $2,000 per year for a 1 pack-a-day habit), you will qualify for some of the better non smoker life insurance rates. (Provided your overall health is good).
At three years, you would qualify for preferred rates. Then, at 5 years removed from smoking or tobacco use, you would qualify for super preferred, premier, or preferred plus. (They mean all the same – the best rates!)
What (And How Often) You Smoke Matters
For the most part, if you smoke cigarettes, you will be classified as a tobacco user. There are a few carriers that will allow a standard non-smoker rating if you only smoke a few cigarettes over the year. You would have to admit this on the application and meet other qualifications.
For the most part, however, if you smoke, you are classified as a tobacco user / smoker.
The use of electronic cigarettes will also classify you as a tobacco user if the electronic cigarette contains nicotine. There is only one carrier which will classify you as a non smoker / non tobacco user. Note: if you smoke electronic cigarettes that do not contain nicotine, then you will be classified as a non smoker.
If you dip or chew (smokeless tobacco), your smoker classification depends on the carrier. Some carriers classify chewing tobacco at non smoker life insurance rates. Others state it is a tobacco rating. The same is true for nicotine gum and patches: some carriers classify the gum and patch as non smoker while others are classified as a smoker.
Finally, generally speaking, most carriers classify the occasional celebratory cigar or pipe as a non smoker. Many carriers allow a preferred or preferred best rating as well. You would generally need to have your urine sample test negative for nicotine.
Marijuana users can be classified as a non smoker. We wrote about life insurance for marijuana users in more detail in a separate article.
How Smokers Can Obtain Non Smoker Life Insurance Rates
As we mentioned earlier, we work with one carrier that will apply non tobacco / non smoker life insurance rates to smokers. There are specific provisions which need to be met, but if you are interested in learning more, then please include your name, email, and phone number in the field below. This carrier also has generous smoking rates overall if you don’t qualify.
Having said that, if you are wondering how smokers can obtain non smoker life insurance rates (with the exception of the carrier we discussed), there is one way to do so:
That is right. There is no game or hidden secret. Life insurance companies have ways of knowing if you smoke, use tobacco, or not.
We know it is hard as we have had many friends and family struggle to quit. It’s easy for us to say, right? Let’s talk about quitting in more detail. There are some specific strategies you can implement while trying to quit. Many of these work together.
Strategy 1 – Apply Now
There is no better time to apply for life insurance than this moment right now. Why? You don’t know when you will die, and any life insurance is better than none at all. So, apply. We will find you the best life insurance plan for your situation. If you are trying to quit or are healthy now (other than smoking) you will then qualify for non smoker rates once you do quit. Yes, it is true – most life insurance companies will “convert” your smoking status into a non smoking status upon quitting. (Remember, you have to be tobacco-free for 12 months.)
You will have to provide a urine sample, but that is usually all that is needed. Your new non smoker rate would then be based on your age upon quitting. For example, if you are a smoker at age 40 and officially quit at age 43, your rate will reflect a non smoker rating at age 43.
Strategy 2 – Transfer to the patch/gum
This is harder than it sounds. We know. But, many carriers will allow a non smoker status for people who use the patch or gum. If you reduce your cigarette smoking to less than 24 per year (classified as occasional use) and use the patch or gum, you may qualify for a non smoker rate with some carriers. Better yet, just skip the cigarettes and go right to the patch or gum. Some carriers will then qualify you for non smoker rates if you have not smoked. Remember, though, you have to be cigarette-free for 12 months.
Strategy 3 – If You Quit, Resubmit
As we mentioned in the strategy #1, if you quit, resubmit your application. You will receive a non smoker classification upon verification on quitting.
Moreover, if you are dead set on quitting, there is a strategy which could work and potentially save you money. You would apply for a 10 year term as a smoker. All things being equal, a 10 year term policy is less expensive than a 20 or 30 year term. You have 10 years to quit and get healthy. Once you quit, you can reapply for a longer term or better coverage.
If your health deteriorates before the term expiration, most term policies have a conversion privilege where you can convert your term policy into a permanent policy. While we are not everyday advocates of permanent policies, we are advocates on using permanent policies in your best interest. Converting your policy to a permanent policy will guarantee you will have some life insurance coverage for your surviving family upon your death.
Again, this strategy is for really those who are dead set on quitting and can obtain a better non smoking status.
We hope you understand how smokers can obtain non smoker life insurance rates. If you are a smoker and in need of life insurance, please contact us so we can determine the right carrier based on your usage history. We can and will find you the lowest cost life insurance for your specific situation.
Smoking vs Non Smoking FAQs
Because of the detailed information in this article, we created a smoking versus non smoking FAQ section to answer some common questions.
I quit smoking 3 months ago, do I qualify as a non smoker?
No, you are still considered a smoker. Nearly all carriers classify a smoker as someone who has smoked within a year, even if you quit within a year. You generally need to be nicotine free for a year. If you quit and transfer to a patch/gum or some other more favorable product, you still have to stop smoking for at least a year.
I don’t smoke, but I use a patch and sometimes chew nicotine gum. Am I classified as a smoker?
It depends on the carrier. Some carriers classify you as a non smoker while others as a smoker.
I smoke a few cigarettes throughout the year, just in celebratory social situations. Am I classified as a smoker?
It depends on the carrier. Some carriers classify you as a non smoker while others as a smoker.
This is why an independent agency like My Family Life Insurance is needed. We can help find the right, and lowest cost, coverage for your specific situation.
What is cotinine? Why is it important to know?
Cotinine is a chemical found in tobacco and is the primary marker to determine tobacco use. While nicotine can dissipate within a few days in your system, cotinine can remain in your system much longer – for up to several months. Cotinine is a much more accurate measure of your nicotine usage.
How long does nicotine stay in your system?
Nicotine can remain in your system – in your blood, urine, or saliva – for a few days up to a couple of weeks or even a couple of months. The actual timeframe depends on you, how much you smoke(d), and your overall health factors.
How long does cotinine stay in your system?
Cotinine can stay in your blood, urine, or saliva for much longer. For example, while nicotine may show in your blood for 1 to 3 days, cotinine can remain for up to 4 days or longer. This is why many insurance companies use cotinine tests to determine any tobacco use as well.
I’d like to flush out any detection of nicotine or cotinine from my system. What is the best way to do that?
We are not health experts. However, the best way is to stop smoking. Then, to exercise and hydrate yourself. This link provides some useful information on ridding your system, including staying away from coffee and eating green vegetables.
How do life insurance companies define a smoker?
A smoker is someone who uses smokes and has a positive nicotine or cotinine test. Note: people who occasionally smoke or smoke a pipe may qualify for non smoker life insurance rates if certain provisions are met. People who chew or use the gum or patch may qualify for non smoker rates as well.
Is there nicotine in cigars?
Yes, nicotine, and therefore cotinine, exists in cigars.
What is the definition of occasional smoking?
From a life insurance perspective, occasional cigarette smoking is having fewer than 24 cigarettes in a year.
How large is the difference in life insurance rates for smokers versus non smokers?
Huge. Let’s compare the rates for a 40 year old male with standard health on a 20 year term policy for $500,000. His tobacco / smoker rate is $180 per month versus a non tobacco / non smoker rate of $60 per month! That is a difference of $120 per month or $28,800 over the 20 years!! What can you do with this kind of money??
Remember, since we at My Family Life Insurance are independent agents, we can find the right policy for your situation.
Why is the smoker rate for life insurance so much higher?
A smoker has an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases (e.g. COPD) and a slew of additional health problems compared to a non smoker. According to the CDC, a smoker is 3 times more likely to die than a person who does not smoke, all things being equal.
If I use a celebratory cigar occasionally, am I a smoker?
For most companies, if you use a cigar occasionally in celebratory and social gatherings, you are not considered a smoker. However, you generally must meet certain guidelines and your nicotine / cotinine tests must indicate occasional use or limited use.
How do life insurance companies know you are lying?
Lying on an insurance application is fraud. Moreover, the carrier can investigate through a contestability clause. If they find out otherwise, the death benefit to your beneficiaries could be reduced or denied altogether.
It is best to be honest. Carriers have ways of verifying your information. Through your blood and urine samples for the tests of nicotine and cotinine. If you opt for a non-medical policy, life insurance companies can still find out through the MIB report and/or your doctor notes.
How do life insurance companies know if you smoke?
Simple. Through your blood and urine samples for the tests of nicotine and cotinine. If you opt for a non-medical policy, life insurance companies can still find out through the MIB report and/or your doctor notes.