If you’re searching for, life insurance for smokers, I bet you think you won’t be able to find affordable rates!
…but here’s the truth…
Whether you smoke cigarettes, a pipe, marijuana, e-cigarettes, or chew tobacco, you ABSOLUTELY can find affordable life insurance for smokers.
Let’s face it life insurance for smokers isn’t a straightforward topic!
This is a must read if you’re looking for information on life insurance for smokers and want to make the right choice for you and your family.
Life Insurance for Smokers
If you’re looking for life insurance for smokers, whether it be cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers, it’s likely you’ve run into rates that are DOUBLE even TRIPLE the premiums non-smokers pay.
WHEW! Now that’s not what you want to hear.
The good news is there are some life insurance carriers whose niche is offering the lowest premiums for cigarette smokers…
…and still, others that offer Non Tobacco ratings for people who are cigar and pipe smokers.
Finally, there are even a few carriers that offer Non Tobacco ratings to e-cigarette or even Marijuana users!
The trick is to figure out which company is right for YOU.
Quick Guide To Your Type of Tobacco Use:
Best Life Insurance Companies for Cigarette Smokers
Virtually everyone who is a smoker googling life insurance for smokers asks the SAME question.
What’s the best life insurance company for smokers?
YES, there are life insurance companies that are more lenient than others when it comes to smoking – but they vary according to YOUR personal circumstances.
If I were to commit myself to a VERY simplistic answer I’d advise you to check out the following life insurance companies:
With that said, I am going to share a word to the wise.
Life insurance companies ARE NOT one size fits all.
Your individual situation plays a huge role in picking the right insurer. This choice can save you THOUSANDS of dollars over the life of your policy.
Remember, underwriting guidelines are ever changing.
Tips For Cigarette Smokers
Not every carrier works for every applicant. As a smoker, you NEED to find a company who is actively competing for your business.
ANY company will SELL you a policy, but if you aren’t careful, you can make a very costly error by choosing one that will charge you MORE.
So you need life insurance NOW….
But you don’t want to pay the piper. You read all the information I’m providing and you KNOW that life insurance for smokers is EXPENSIVE.
Should you quit and then apply?
Well I’ve got some advice that you may not have thought of.
The good news is, if you get a policy now while you’re still smoking, you can qualify for cheaper premiums later when and IF you quit smoking!
I never recommend that clients DELAY getting life insurance…and WHY do you think that is?
…because life happens while you are making plans!
I have a client that had 4 beautiful, young children – and one day he just didn’t come home.
Sadly he had a heart attack at the age 57. There were no warning signs. He was athletic and ate well. The thing is, you don’t always know what is lurking around the corner.
This gentleman, in my opinion, is a TRUE superhero.
He took the time to plan for his family and now his children will have enough money to attend university and his wife didn’t have to sell their family home to satisfy his debts.
Which brings me back to the advice I mentioned above. If you are looking for life insurance for smokers, your best bet is to take the amount of insurance you need right now, while you’re healthy.
Then try to quit smoking.
After one year of no tobacco use, as long as you’re still healthy, you can apply for a new policy and get standard non tobacco rates with most carriers.
This will cut your premiums in half. Then for each year you stay away from cigarettes, you climb the ladder of rates available to you, starting with Standard Plus after 2 years, then Preferred after 3, then Preferred Plus after 3 – 5 years with most carriers.
So, attention all cigarette smokers who are getting ripped off on life insurance. Here’s an incentive…quit now, and after 12 short months, you may just get the same rates as your nonsmoking, athletic neighbor!
Some life insurance companies are even more competitive, and offer reduced premiums at earlier intervals after you have quit smoking.
All you have to do is replace your policy or apply for a ‘health class reconsideration’. The savings you derive after being tobacco free year for a year can be quite significant!
I Already Quit Smoking Cigarettes! How Will Life Insurers Rate Me?
High five! Quitting is NEVER easy so kudos to you. My answer? It depends on WHEN you quit and how healthy you are.
Because there are a lot of quitters out there that don’t want to be penalized for past performance.
This is why I created this handy chart to illustrate how life insurance companies may view your particular circumstances:
Quit Smoking for 1 Year
Congratulations! Most companies will consider you for their Standard non tobacco rates after quitting smoking cigarettes for 1 year. However, I know of at least 10 companies who may offer better than standard rates after quitting for 12 months. Banner Life claims to offer Standard Plus (one rate class better than standard), as well as Prudential, John Hancock, Protective and six more. But wait! There are two progressive companies who will consider an offer of Preferred Non Smoker, which are Minnesota Life and Nationwide! After only one year of not smoking! Pretty good, huh?
Quit Smoking for 2 Years
Wonderful! At the 2 year mark, 6 more carriers will consider an offer of Standard Plus non tobacco, such as American National, Met Life and Voya. But more importantly, another 8 join the ranks of those companies offering a possible rating of Preferred non tobacco! Remember, the better the rating, the better the pricing! As you see, it is vital that you use an independent agent so you will have access to the best carrier for your specific case!
Quit Smoking for 3 Years
Preferred Plus, yes, I said Preferred Plus, the very best rating an insurance company offers, is potentially available after your 3rd anniversary of smoking cessation, as long as the rest of your health and lifestyle qualifies for that rating! At the time of this writing, 5 insurance companies – Banner Life, Lincoln National, Minnesota Life, Mutual of Omaha and North American (if under 70) use this criteria for underwriting!
Quit Smoking for 5+ Years
If this is you, every insurance company that I know of will consider you for their best non smoking class, as long as you can qualify for that class otherwise. In other words, you can quit reading this article right now!
INSIDER TIP: Be sure to tell your physician that you quit smoking! It’s also important for you to share the date you had your last cigarette. You want them to record this in their file. Otherwise your medical records will likely show you are still a smoker after you quit! Specifically ask your doctor to make this notation to avoid any complications at a later date.
Life Insurance for Cigar Smokers
None of this really applies to me, because I smoke cigars! Where do I stand?
You might be surprised to learn most companies don’t look at you any differently…
You really need to be careful here. Frustratingly, many carriers don’t distinguish between a pipe/cigar smoker and a cigarette smoker.
This means it’s VERY important to select your life insurance carrier properly. If not, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.
Thankfully some carriers do offer non tobacco ratings as long as you’re a responsible, occasional user.
By most carriers’ guidelines, that means no more than one celebratory cigar or pipe per month, and you must test negative for nicotine in your urine analysis.
Best Life Insurance Companies for Cigar Smokers
Typically cigar smokers are categorized as Smokers, however…
There are a few carriers that offer better rates for cigar smokers:
That being said, the best choice for life insurance for cigar smokers may be Prudential.
Not only do they allow unlimited cigars, chew, and pipe smoking – but you can even test positive for nicotine and still get a non tobacco rating.
It’s important to note, that Prudential’s non tobacco rating for these tobacco users is usually more expensive than other carriers’ preferred non tobacco ratings.
I also found out that Cincinnati Life Insurance Company has become more lenient about the occasional cigar.
They allow “no more than 10-12 cigars per year”. In addition, you can also test positive for nicotine. All of the carriers want the HOS, or home office specimen, to be negative, except Prudential and Cincinnati Life.
As you can see, most life insurance carriers do not distinguish between the man who smokes the occasional Padron and the guy who smokes two packs of cigarettes per day.
This is important because if you smoke cigars and are looking for smokers life insurance, you need to know where to look, or you’ll run the risk of being lumped into the same “tobacco user” category as the daily cigarette smoker.
Which means you’ll shell out two to three times more than a “non-tobacco user”.
Tips For Cigar Smokers
Preferred Plus (Non-Tobacco) Rates are possible smoking one cigar per week:
You can smoke up to one cigar per week, and still qualify as a Preferred Plus Non-Smoker, just like your Olympic Athlete neighbor!
At this time, VOYA and American General are the only carriers making this offer.
- Cigar use must be admitted at the time of application.
- No more than one cigar per week.
- No nicotine metabolites (cotinine) may be present in the urinalysis done for VOYA or AIG, or any other company within the past 12 months.
- No use of tobacco products other than occasional cigars.
Preferred (Non-Tobacco) Rates possible smoking one cigar per week:
Nationwide allows up to one cigar per week with a Preferred rating possible.
If you want a cigar each week, these are the companies you should look for! The same 4 rules apply as noted above.
Preferred (Non-Tobacco) Rates are possible smoking up to 24 cigars per year:
In addition to VOYA and AIG, if you smoke up to 2 cigars per month, American National, Aviva, Lincoln Financial and Minnesota Life should be part of your search.
An experienced, independent agent is the one that should help you find the right carrier for your unique health and lifestyle history.
Preferred Plus (Non-Tobacco) Rates for those that smoke only 12 cigars per year:
Many life insurance companies will allow one celebratory cigar per month, as long as the same criteria is met.
Assurity, AXA-Equitable, Banner, Genworth, John Hancock, Mutual of Omaha, Nationwide, North American, SBLI and Transamerica all allow up to 12 cigars annually to qualify for their best possible rating.
If you Smoke MORE than 1 cigar per week and test positive for nicotine – Non Tobacco Rates are still available:
Prudential has a special class, “Non Smoker Plus”, that allows the cigar smoker to smoke as much as he or she wants and test positive for nicotine on the urine test and still qualify for Non Tobacco rates!
However, their non smoker plus rates won’t be as affordable as preferred with other competitive life insurance companies.
The best thing you can do if you’re a cigar smoker looking for life insurance is to speak to a knowledgeable independent agent. They will assess your case and take it the carrier who will give you the best offer.
Life Insurance For E-Cigarette Smokers
What about me? I use e-cigarettes (or vape). Surely this isn’t looked at the same as smoking cigarettes or cigars?
This is a changing area for life insurers. Once again you might be surprised to hear that they are currently viewed the same as traditional cigarettes…
Electronic cigarettes and vaping have been touted as a healthier alternative to using tobacco products.
BUT, how do life insurance companies view them, and is it easier to obtain the cheapest life insurance for smokers if you use electronic cigarette users rather than traditional smokers?
Tobacco products contain as many as 4,000 forms of chemical compounds, several of which are known carcinogens or cause other health issues.
However, electronic cigarettes, which were first introduced in 2003, also contain nicotine, which is a habit forming drug.
Although very few health studies have been performed on these products, nicotine, which metabolizes into “cotinine”, is, in itself, a harmful product.
Nicotine, or the metabolized form of cotinine, is known to cause a rise in blood pressure, which can have adverse health effects such as an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Also, the e-cig industry is not highly regulated and some of these vaping products also use flavoring agents to enhance their appeal to users, which contain a variety of chemical compounds.
The health risks posed by electronic cigarettes are not fully known.
According to M. Brad Drummond, MD of Johns Hopkins “E-cigarettes may be less harmful than cigarettes,” Drummond says. “But we still don’t know enough about their long-term risks or the effects of secondhand exposure.” Web MD
Best Life Insurance Companies For Electronic Cigarettes
As many as 9 out of 10 life insurance underwriters rate e-cigarettes in the same manner as any other type of traditional tobacco product.
…but, don’t be discouraged, not all life insurers are the same.
Some companies are much more lenient than others. At the time of this writing, insurance companies are in the process of ongoing reconsideration of e-cigarettes.
Prudential will possibly offer a non-smoking rating for those that indulge.
…and as we learned in the cigar-smoking chapter, they also allow you to test positive for nicotine in your urine!
Another problem life insurers have to overcome is the blood test required for the medical exam.
The insurer is looking specifically to find evidence of cotinine which indicates that you are using or ingesting products that contain nicotine.
Insurers are unable to differentiate between whether you are consuming regular tobacco products or are just restricting yourself to vaping.
Either way, they view ingesting nicotine as being harmful in and of itself.
We know which are more liberal and provide the best rates for consumers of electronic cigarettes or for other pre-existing health issues.
We also keep up with the myriad changes that occur throughout our industry, as carriers constantly evaluate and adjust their underwriting guidelines as personal habits change.
If you are only an occasional user of electronic cigarettes, there are some life insurers which will give you a better rating than others.
You don’t want to go with a company that lumps all tobacco or alternative vaping users into the same category – whether you use the products regularly or infrequently.
NOTE: If you cease smoking or using electronic cigarettes completely for at least 1 year, we can set you up with a life insurance company that will be happy to re-evaluate your health situation. The best part? It’s very likely your premiums will be reduced after review!
Life Insurance For Chewing Tobacco
What about me? I chew tobacco. Although I am considering using gum or the patch to quit!
You will be surprised to find out that using gum or the patch is looked at similarly to chewing tobacco!
Tobacco and nicotine products can be consumed in many forms.
Aside from smoking, people chew tobacco, use Nicorette (or other brands of nicotine gum) or make use of nicotine patches to stop smoking.
You probably wonder why I would lump those three products together.
Clearly, one is using tobacco actively, while others are meant to help QUIT tobacco.
The answer is, for the most part, life insurance companies DO NOT make any real distinction between the use of tobacco, and other types of consumed nicotine products.
Best Life Insurance Companies for Chewing Tobacco
The good news is, at least ONE company will classify you as a nonsmoker. You guessed it:
This solid, A+ rated company, offers a special ‘Non Tobacco’ rating as long as you haven’t smoked any cigarettes in the past year, but still chew tobacco or use a nicotine patch or gum.
The best part is there’s no limit to your tobacco use. You can even test positive for nicotine in a blood analysis, and still, be approved at their non tobacco rate!
Another top carrier that has loosened their ratings for other forms of tobacco use is:
- Lincoln Financial
They allow for pipe smoking, cigar, gum and patch in their Standard Non Smoker class. You must pass the nicotine lab test to qualify.
Life Insurance If You Smoke Weed
Ok, I have a secret! None of the others apply to me, I smoke weed! Now what?
Hmmm – this depends on the carrier!
Yes, you can still be approved for life insurance if you smoke marijuana, even without a prescription.
But is life insurance for pot smokers gonna cost ya?
Well, life insurance carriers vary widely on how they treat pot smokers. If you admit to smoking marijuana in the past 3 years, you certainly won’t qualify for their preferred non tobacco ratings.
I’ve seen some carriers offer as good as standard non tobacco for a “social marijuana smoker” who admitted to smoking marijuana not more than once per year.
Note: this same company would not offer their non smoker ratings to someone who smokes one cigarette per year. Go figure.
Do Life Insurance Companies Classify You as a Smoker if you Smoke Weed?
Typically life insurance companies treat marijuana like smokers.
In this case, they would pay what a cigarette smoker would pay in comparable health, which at least doubles the premium.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have some carriers who say since it’s illegal almost everywhere, they won’t offer life insurance to pot smokers. This is obviously a point of view that changes with the laws.
If you do smoke the occasional joint (marijuana cigarette) and end up with a smoker’s offer, the best solution here is to take out the insurance you need, pay the smoker’s premiums, and quit smoking pot.
Which means life insurance for pot smokers can be costly.
I would then suggest, after a year, you can reapply for coverage with a different carrier. If you’re still healthy, you have a great chance of getting a standard non tobacco rating, which will save you about 50% on average.
Best Life Insurance Companies if You Smoke Weed
As of this writing, we have 14 companies that will consider any and all marijuana use as Smoker’s rates.
However, we currently have 6 carriers that will consider Non Smoker’s rates from Standard, all the way to Preferred Best, depending on the frequency of use.
Honesty is the best policy my friend – and your independent life insurance agent is your best ally!
So, what if you smoke pot twice a year, once on your Anniversary and once while on vacation?
I’ve got some good news for you – you could qualify for Preferred Best rates from American General!
Or, if you smoke twice a month, and you test negative, you could get a non-smoker rating of Standard Plus from Prudential.
If you smoke as often as twice a week, but test negative, then you could get a non-smoker rating of Preferred from Aviva!
It’s important to understand you can only qualify for a standard non tobacco rate or preferred smoker rate with full disclosure on the application.
Even though many life insurance carriers’ blood tests do not check for marijuana, you most definitely should disclose your smoking.
In a nutshell, if you don’t tell the truth about smoking weed, it’s fraud!
Secondly, if you die within two years of the policy date, the insurance company is entitled to investigate before paying the death benefit.
They will pull medical records and if they find THC in them, they have grounds to deny the claim, since you made a material misrepresentation on the application.
Obviously, they would have denied your coverage with this information or denied you altogether.
Life Insurance For Marijuana Smokers with a Prescription
So what if you are smoking marijuana with a prescription?
In this case, you are much more likely to see non tobacco ratings. The bigger issue here will be the underlying medical condition that marijuana has been prescribed as a treatment.
People with the following health conditions have been prescribed medical marijuana:
- Intestinal Problems
Setting your marijuana use aside, any of these conditions will either be rated or cause a declined application on their own.
So the severity of your underlying condition will be the primary factor in determining your offer – not the fact that you are looking for life insurance for pot smokers.
The underwriter will need to see records from the doctor that prescribed the marijuana, to determine what rate your medical condition warrants.
For example, one of my clients suffered from residual pain due to an injury 10 years ago. He had a prescription for medical marijuana, which he ‘vaped’ daily.
Prudential rated him Standard Plus (non-smoker) despite his admitted daily use.
If you’re smoking marijuana illegally, and disclose this on the application, rest assured that this information is protected by HIPAA laws.
Your agent or insurance company cannot “turn you in” to the authorities.
So there are no criminal implications of admitting to smoking marijuana on your life insurance application.
Life Insurance Classifications of Smokers
There are typically 3 categories you might fall into when a company identifies your use of tobacco.
Before I outline how they rate tobacco users, I want to make it very clear that it’s vital you never lie about your tobacco consumption.
This form of deceit is fraudulent and can cause your claim to be denied if they discover you failed to reveal the truth about your tobacco use.
Always be honest about it.
Regular Users of Tobacco Related Products:
If you’re a regular user of tobacco products, regardless if you chew, smoke a pipe or use electronic cigarettes, you will be evaluated and charged a premium that is the same as a pack a day cigarette smoker by most companies.
That is all companies except the ONE I made reference to in this article.
All others will classify you as a smoker if you test positive for nicotine in the urine exam.
Regular users of tobacco products are generally charged 2-3 times what a non-smoker would pay for a life insurance policy, be it term, whole life or universal life.
Non-Tobacco Rating for Occasional Use of Tobacco Related Products:
Many people infrequently smoke a pipe or chew tobacco. Which means if they were to take a urine sample, it would be negative.
They are not regular users, so they may be treated slightly differently.
It depends on the company. Some insurers make no differentiation whether you smoke or chew 10 times a day or indulge once a month.
The good news is that some companies will give you latitude on how much they charge for very occasional use.
Best case scenario, you may be able to qualify for the best non tobacco rating with occasional (non-cigarette) tobacco use.
To qualify for this better rating, you can NOT test positive for nicotine in a blood analysis.
Non Use of Tobacco Related Products:
You might be thinking about quitting completely or have already quit using tobacco related products.
How will that affect the cost of your life insurance premium?
This varies from company to company. Most insurers will classify you as a non-smoker if you’ve managed to completely quit the habit for 1 year.
At this point, you can generally qualify for standard non tobacco rates with most companies,. There is also a handful that will approve you at better than standard after quitting for just 1 year.
The maximum period where you will be deemed as a non-smoker or tobacco consumer is 5 years. This applies to all companies that I’m aware of. To sum it up, you don’t have to pay tobacco rates if you smoke a pipe, chew tobacco or snuff, or use electronic cigarettes.
Types of Policies Available for Smokers
There are 4 types of life insurance policies available and they include:
- Term Life
- Guaranteed Universal Life
- Whole Life
- Universal Life
Virtually all types of life insurance are obtainable if you are looking for life insurance for smokers.
However, we focus only on the two safest forms of coverage:
- Term Life
- Guaranteed Universal Life (GUL)
Term Life Insurance
Term life is the most affordable form of life insurance, hands down, for smokers and nonsmokers alike.
This type of policy covers you for a specified period of years known as a ‘Term’ which can be 10, 20 or 30 years, for example. You pay a set premium for that term and this type of policy provides a death benefit.
However, once that term is up, it will have to be replaced with another policy if your need for life insurance still exists. Most Term policies are also Convertible, which simply means that instead of ending, they can be converted to a permanent policy if the replacement is cost-prohibitive.
Guaranteed Universal Life
Guaranteed Universal Life is our other set-premium form of coverage. It is guaranteed to remain in force, as long as you pay the agreed premium, well into old age.
You can select a policy that will take you to age 90, 100, or for as long as you live, no matter how long you live.
This policy is more expensive than the Term policy, however, it lasts longer and will never need to be replaced, which is a comfort, especially to our older clients who don’t want to have to qualify for, or afford a new policy once they reach 60, 70 or 80 years old.
You also have the option of buying term life insurance in addition to having a guaranteed universal life insurance policy to tide you over for periods of time when you think you need extra coverage.
Generally, we don’t recommend whole life – if you MUST go for a permanent policy we typically suggest Guaranteed Universal Life to our clients.
Summing It Up
Ok! I get it! You are looking for cheap life insurance for smokers.
Now that we’ve seen how smoking affects your life insurance rates – you probably understand why I reiterate your need to shop around!
As you can see one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to life insurance for smokers and you need someone who gets your SPECIFIC needs.
Smoking can really ratchet up your premiums. When you’re talking about doubling even tripling your premiums there is NO room for messing around.
The savings can be in the 10’s of thousands of dollars over a 30 year term! That is NOTHING to sniff at.*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that "timely" information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.