If I rarely smoke, do I need to identify as a smoker?

It’s no mystery that life insurance rates for smokers can be dramatically higher than comparable plans for non-smokers. However, some carriers are more lenient toward smokers so do your research. It is important to note that pulling off the “I’m a non-smoker” smoke screen during your application for a life insurance policy is risky.

Identifying yourself as a non-smoker and later being found out can, at the very least, result in your carrier denying benefits to your beneficiaries if it’s discovered your tobacco use had any impact on the result of your death. During the term of your policy, if it’s discovered you are a tobacco user during normal medical treatments or procedures (a simple urine test can determine if you use tobacco) then your policy will likely be immediately terminated or you will be forced to pay back smoker rates for the time you have been covered in order to keep your policy in force. At the very worst, you can be prosecuted for insurance fraud and on the outset, face jail time but typically an immediate cancellation.

Honesty is the best policy and if you truly are an infrequent smoker, it’s smarter to be honest and obtain a policy that reflects your habit than risk your beneficiaries being denied your benefits. Life insurance companies consider you to be a smoker if you have had any cigarettes at all in the last 12 months.

What do you smoke and how often?

We’re talking about legal substances, of course. Namely, marijuana, cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco (chewing), and vaping.

Marijuana: First and foremost, (this holds true for all types of smoking habits) your frequency of use is of utmost importance. If you smoke a joint or bowl once a month, it’s generally considered recreational use and you can still secure nonsmoker rates. However, if you smoke every day or more than “on occasion”, you will absolutely be paying smoker rates. Please note, if you use marijuana for medicinal purposes, your carrier will ask questions and you are more likely to be considered a high-risk prospect as they will be concerned about the underlying condition that is causing you to need medicinal marijuana.

Cigarettes:  You may think because you’re just a weekend smoker that you might qualify for non-smoker rates. Unfortunately, that’s not how life insurance companies view your application. If you claim to use only a few cigarettes each month or more importantly, indicate little to no tobacco use in the last 12 months during your blood test, you will likely find a carrier that will allow you to apply for non-smoker rates. Due to the extremely addictive and physically destructive nature of cigarettes, in particular, your life insurance rates will reflect those of a smoker, UNLESS: You’re trying to quit and you’ve not smoked for at least a year.  In years 2-5 of quitting smoking, rates continue to improve.  After 5 years cigarette free, you are viewed the same as someone who has never smoked. Again, honesty is the key here.

Cigars: Just a few cigars a year are acceptable by some carriers and this holds true for occasional pipe smokers of tobacco. Understand, if you smoke that cigar a day prior to your medical examination, you will test positive for tobacco use and your rates will reflect as much. Certain carriers allow up to one cigar a week or more, the onus is upon you to perform due diligence and find that carrier who might service your particular needs.

Tobacco Chew or Smokeless Tobacco: As you may have guessed, the risk with this type of tobacco use is much less placed on the lungs but on the effects to your gums, tongue, and lips. Your saliva might also be affected. Throat cancer is a major concern. 1-3 years of proven abstinence might be required depending on the carrier and their rules pertaining to frequency of usage.  There is a possibility of securing nonsmoker rates as a tobacco chewer, and LeapLife can help guide you to the right policy fit to keep your costs low.

 Vape: New to the scene for insurance companies, vaping or smoking e-cigarettes (smoking tobacco-based hookah is treated similarly) remains a vague area of underwriting, particularly due to the lack of long-term side-effect. Because the long-term damage due to vaping have yet to be established, you might acquire coverage as a non-smoker if you haven’t smoked any other type of cigarette or tobacco product for at least a year.

I smoke – how do I find the perfect provider?

Research is king. You smoke. It’s not perfect. Life insurance providers are not going to view you as the ideal applicant but that does not mean you can’t find an affordable, encompassing policy with which you and your family won’t be satisfied. It takes time and effort to apply to numerous insurance companies. Working with a broker or site that automates a search, compares various policies, and seamlessly breaks down policies available to you is a good first start.  Shorter term policies are available if you plan to quit.

To obtain a life insurance quote in a matter of minutes, visit LeapLife.