How much are life insurance rates for smokers?
When you apply for life insurance it is the underwriter’s job to determine your health class or underwriting class which determines how much your life insurance rate will be. The health class and therefore the life insurance rate will be affected by many factors such as your lifestyle, overall health, whether or not you smoke, etc. Most companies have 4 different health classes for non smokers and 2 different classes for smokers each with there own corresponding life insurance rate. The best possible class usually goes by the name “Preferred Best” or “Super Preferred” followed by “Preferred”, “Standard Plus” and then “Standard”. The smoking classes are usually “Preferred Smoker” and “Standard Smoker”. Companies have different names for these classes but they are all similar. If you don’t qualify for any of these health classes you may qualify for a sub-standard health class.
Rates for smokers will be higher than rates for non-smokers. Here is an example. A 45 yr old male standard non-smoker would pay a rate of $645 per year for $500k of 10 year term. A 45 yr old male standard smoker would pay a rate of $1,705 for the same policy.
Will the insurance company consider you a smoker?
There are a few things that you need to know about whether or not you will be considered a smoker or non-smoker. If you have smoked 1 cigarette in the last 12 months the insurance company will consider you a smoker and you will have to pay smoker rates. This is true for just about every insurance company out there. We are not aware of any company that requires a shorter period of not smoking. However, some companies will rate you differently if you use other types of nicotine, such as cigars or smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco. If you use other types of tobacco besides cigarettes, then you really need to work with an insurance agency that knows how every company rates that type of tobacco. It could mean the difference between paying smoker rates and paying non-smoker rates. Also, if you quit smoking for a year or longer, different companies have different guidelines regarding what health class you can qualify for, so once again you want to make sure you let your agent know how long it has been since you quit smoking and what type or types of tobacco you are using or used to use.
How long does nicotine stay in your system?
When applying for life insurance most companies will require you to take a physical exam which includes a blood test and urine sample. This is one of the ways they determine if you are a smoker. It typically takes about 72 hours to get nicotine out of your system, but if you have applied for insurance in the last year and were rated as a smoker, the insurance company will see that in the medical information bureau. In addition, if you went to the doctor in the last year and had a blood test or told your doctor that you are a smoker the insurance company will pick that up in your medical records and will rate you as a smoker and you will have to pay smoker rates.
If you lie about being a smoker you could be charged with insurance fraud. I have never heard of this happening during the application process, but it’s possible. Usually the insurance company will just re-question you. If you are re-questioned about something, it usually means the insurance company knows you are not telling the truth and they are giving you a chance to tell the truth. If you lie again, they typically will decline you. Finally, if the insurance company decides to investigate your claim after you die and they find out that you were a smoker and you said you were a non-smoker, they could contest your claim.
Can you start smoking after your policy is issued?
As long as you are honest on your application and tell the insurance company about your history of smoking and how long it has been since you last used nicotine it is ok to start smoking after your policy is issued. There is no requirement that we are aware of, to report any changes in health or lifestyle after your policy is issued.
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