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Life Insurance for Smokers

Amy Danise

If you’re a smoker and shopping for life insurance, expect to pay more than non-smokers. And life insurance “smoking rates” aren’t just for people who smoke cigarettes. They’re for people who use any form of nicotine:

  • Cigarettes.
  • Cigars (depending on how often).
  • Smokeless tobacco.
  • Chewing tobacco.
  • Pipes.
  • Nicotine patches and gum.
  • Electronic cigarettes.
  • Vaping.

How much is life insurance for a smoker?

How much more can smokers expect to pay vs. non-smokers? EverQuote found that smokers pay an average of 317% more for term life insurance than non-smokers.

Life insurance rates for 20-year term life smokers policies

Policy amount Men Women
$500,000 term life, smokers $869/year $697/year
$1 million term life, smokers $1,622/year $1,257/year
$2 million term life, smokers $3,194/year $2,464/year
Methodology: We used rates for 30-year-old men and women of average height and weight in very good health. Rates are for 20-year term life policies. We averaged the three cheapest rates we found. Your own rates will be different.

Because pricing for smokers varies among companies, it’s good to work with an independent life insurance agent who can shop the market and find companies with good deals on smoking rates.

How long do I have quit to get non-smoking rates?

Life insurance companies typically charge less the longer you’ve been totally off nicotine. For example, an insurer might consider you for non-smoking rates if you’ve had no nicotine for 12 months; others may say five years.

How do life insurance companies find out if I smoke?

A life insurer should find out that you smoke from you. You should be truthful on a life insurance application, even if you know it will mean paying higher smoking rates.

There are also other ways the truth can be revealed:

  • Life insurers typically check information from a group called MIB, which has a database of past answers to individual life and health applications from many companies.
  • They’ll often request your medical records and look for any sign of smoking or other nicotine use.
  • They’ll often require a life insurance medical exam. A urine or blood test can show cotinine, which the body makes during nicotine use.

In a worst-case scenario, someone lies on an application about nicotine use and the insurer doesn’t find out, the person dies of a nicotine-related condition and the insurer denies the claim.

Do I have to tell my life insurance company if I start smoking?

Once you’ve purchased a life insurance policy, you do not have to tell your life insurance company about any new bad habits or health conditions that start after the policy purchase. You don’t have to report that you’re now a smoker, or developed diabetes or started skydiving since buying the policy.

The important thing is that you were truthful on the life insurance application and your rates were determined based on the facts at the time.