If you’re a smoker and don’t already have a life insurance policy in place, you may be wondering if it’s even possible to find adequate life insurance coverage. While smoking can directly impact things such as your life insurance rate, it is definitely possible to find coverage if you smoke. Let’s dive further into the cost of life insurance, different coverage options for smokers and how SelectQuote can help.
Is life insurance more expensive for smokers?
In simple terms, yes, life insurance tends to be more expensive for smokers—but that doesn’t mean you’re unable to find coverage altogether. When you apply for a traditional life insurance policy, your health is assessed during a medical questionnaire and a physical exam which will help determine your classification and risk of being insured.
The four main health classifications are Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard Plus and Standard. Preferred Plus applicants tend to receive the most affordable life insurance rates, with costs increasing with each lower classification.
How do life insurance companies know if you smoke?
Life insurance companies know if you smoke from two primary outlets: your life insurance application and your medical exam. Your blood is drawn during the exam and tested for the presence of both nicotine and cotinine. The presence of either of these substances indicates you are a tobacco user, either from smoking cigarettes, vaping and/or using smokeless tobacco.
Note: secondhand smoke does not show up on a life insurance medical exam test.
It’s very important to be honest during your application because your medical exam will be able to identify if you smoke or use tobacco. Lying during the questionnaire is considered fraud and is cause for the insurance company to decline or cancel your application. Both your application and the medical exam are needed to support the life insurance underwriting process, which ultimately determines your rates when you apply for life insurance.
In addition to your application and medical exam, a life insurance company may also use your historical medical records and MIB report. The MIB is a resource for life insurance underwriters to assess risk and validate insurance applications. Learn more about MIB and request a copy of your own report.
No Medical Exam Life Insurance Options for Smokers
While you’ll likely find more coverage with a traditional term life insurance policy, there’s a chance you can still find an affordable policy with no medical exam life insurance. The three types of no-exam life insurance smokers should consider include:
- Simplified Issue Life Insurance—It can be tricky to qualify for term or whole life insurance with preferred rates as a smoker, but simplified issue is a strong option for coverage for someone who believes a medical exam might work against them. Simplified issue isn’t always guaranteed, but your approval for coverage will be based on a health and lifestyle questionnaire instead of an exam.
- Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance—With guaranteed issue whole life insurance, you’re guaranteed coverage between the ages of 45-85. In addition to no medical exam, there are also no health questions required for coverage. Your acceptance for guaranteed issue will be solely based on a basic application.
- Accelerated Underwriting—Accelerated underwriting allows you to apply for traditional life insurance without having to take a life insurance medical exam. If you are worried a medical exam might work against you, accelerated underwriting might be worth considering. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that while premium costs will be similar, you may see a lower offer of coverage.
What happens if you start smoking after you get life insurance?
If you start smoking after you obtain life insurance, your rates shouldn’t increase. The first two years after your policy is in force, however, is called the contestability period, and if you pass away during this timeframe, the insurance company has the right to go through your medical records and application materials to look for misrepresentations. This could potentially delay the death benefit payment to your family. It’s crucial to be completely honest when applying for life insurance, so even if you were to start smoking after you obtained coverage, your family won’t be impacted.
Can I get a better life insurance rate if I stop smoking?
Ready to quit? Good for you! Not only does this help improve your overall health, but you may be able to lower your life insurance premiums after being tobacco-free for at least a year.
SelectQuote Can Help Find Affordable Life Insurance for Smokers
You’ll likely have higher life insurance rates than nonsmokers, but that doesn’t mean finding adequate coverage as a smoker is out of the picture. We’ll take the time to get to know you and compare your options from some of the most trusted life insurance companies in the nation. In just minutes, we can find you the right coverage with the right carrier at the right price for you.