Are you someone who enjoys the occasional celebratory cigar or has replaced smoking a pack of cigarettes a day with puffing on an electronic cigarette instead?
Did you realize that by the standards of many life insurance companies that you would be considered a “smoker?”
This can have a significant effect on how much your life insurance premiums will cost.
Luckily, there are a few companies out there that have more lenient underwriting policies when it comes to cigars, e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and nicotine gum. Depending on your specific situation, this is where working with an experienced life insurance brokerage can help you save THOUSANDS of dollars on your policy. We recommend you also read our guide to low cost risk life insurance here and if AARP life insurance is right for you.
Quick Article Guide
- I Don’t Consider Myself A Smoker
- I Smoke Vaporizes or E-cigs
- How Insurers See E-cigs
- I Chew Tobacco
- JRC Is On Your Side
Three quarters of people who enjoy cigars tend to be “occasional smokers.” Many life insurance companies such as Lincoln and Mutual of Omaha will qualify those who smoke no more than one per month who are in otherwise good health for “preferred” or “preferred-best” rates. By far the most lenient company with cigar use is Prudential, and they happen to be the second largest company in the industry. They do not restrict how many cigars you are allowed to smoke, as long as you do not smoke cigarettes. This is the one of the only companies that allows you to test positive for nicotine during the medical exam for your policy. Prudential also allows applicants to use chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, nicotine gum and the patch without being charged “smoker” rates. Another competitive company for people who enjoy cigars is American General Life Insurance, as they allow for 1 cigar per week without affecting your rates. Read more about their life insurance “sweet spots” here.
One of the dangers of consuming cigars on a regular basis is that one high quality cigar can contain the same amount of tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes. According to the American Cancer Society, “regular cigar smokers are four to ten times more likely to die from cancers of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus than non-smokers.” Since the use of tobacco products can pose a health risk, many life insurance companies will consider cigar smoker to be “higher risk individual” even if they are in perfect health. That being said, life insurance companies equate a “higher risk” with higher premiums, and tobacco users typically pay 3 to 5 times more for their life insurance. This is especially true if you have other health issues like diabetes, sleep apnea, or a history of heart disease.
During the application process it’s important that you answer “yes” when your agent asks you if you have used tobacco products in the past 5 years. You can then offer a truthful explanation of your cigar use. It’s also important to keep in mind that some companies may require you to test “negative” for nicotine when the labs check your blood and urine samples. Tobacco will stay in your system for up to 7-10 days, so make to tell your agent the frequency of your use. Some life insurance companies will allow you to have nicotine in your system and still consider you as a non-smoker, but this is not the case with all companies. If possible, we normally recommend abstaining from any tobacco the week prior to your medical exam. Check out our article, How to Apply for Life Insurance, for a detailed look at the application process.
Life Insurance companies have solid reasoning for charging cigarette smokers significantly higher rates, according to the Centers of Disease Control, smoking cigarettes can take 10 years off of one’s life expectancy. When it comes to the use of electronic cigarettes or ”e-cigs” many life insurance companies err on the side of caution. A recent survey conducted by Munich American Reassurance Company showed that 89% of the 151 life insurance underwriters who participated would consider electronic cigarette users as “smokers.” It was also indicated that majority of life insurance companies do not have specific policies for e-cigarettes. This being said, there is a glimmer of hope for those who use electronic cigarettes. Prudential is currently one of the only life insurance companies that will classify e-cig users as non-smokers. However, it’s important to note that these rates will not apply to you if you currently or have smoked cigarettes in the past 12 months.
E-Cigarettes have no track record-Electronic cigarettes were first introduced from China to the US in 2007. Health officials are unsure if they’re an effective tool to help people quit smoking, and there are even some brands that do not contain nicotine. Insurance companies and health officials are still unsure of the long term effects of smoking e-cigs. Some opponents of E-cigarettes will argue that e-cigs help young people become addicted to nicotine and see them as a “gateway drug.”
E-Cigarettes are not regulated – The FDA is weighing its’ authority on whether they should regulate the use of E-cigs, which could create a way for lawmakers to begin taxing them. In some cases electronic cigarettes can deliver much higher doses of nicotine than traditional cigarettes which raises concern for the risk of high blood pressure.
While many life insurance companies automatically lump smokeless tobacco users into the “smoker” category, but there are a few companies that are a little more liberal about their policies. As long as you do not smoke cigarettes, you may qualify for standard plus or preferred rates with Prudential, depending on how often you chew tobacco. Even though there is some evidence that shows smokeless tobacco or snuff causes less health problems than smoking cigarettes do, health professionals and life insurance companies worry about the following:
- One can of snuff contains the same amount of nicotine as 60 cigarettes.
- It is considered to be more difficult to quit than cigarettes.
- Long term effects of chewing tobacco include a 50% higher rate of developing oral cancer.
We understand that it may be tempting to lie on your life insurance application when it comes to your tobacco use, but we highly advise against doing so. Most life insurance policies require a medical exam in order to determine your rate class. These exams often require blood and urine samples in which they test for the presence of nicotine in your body. Finding nicotine will in your labs will cause the company you apply with to classify you as a, “smoker”, resulting higher premiums or a declined application. In addition, before approving your policy the insurance company will also review your history of life insurance applications, medical records, and they may also check your dental records. If you have ever admitted to a doctor or dentist that you use tobacco, or if another insurance company has ever found tobacco in your medical records, the insurance company you apply with will see these records too.
At JRC Insurance Group our agents are trained and experienced in the life insurance underwriting process. We also work with dozens of companies which means that we can find you an affordable life insurance policy to protect your loved ones. No matter what type of tobacco your use, or how often you use it, we will find the life insurance company that has the lowest rates available for you.
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