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Smokers FAQs

I quit smoking cigarettes about 6 months ago. Can I qualify for non-smoker rates?
No, you must be nicotine free for at least one year before you can qualify for non-smoker rates.

I haven’t smoked in years but still use the patch. Can I qualify for non-smoker rates?
No, if you use the patch or gum, it is still considered nicotine use and you will only qualify for smoker rates.

I smoke an occasional cigarette socially, can I qualify for non-smoker rates?
Yes, it is possible to get non-smoker rates as a light social smoker.

I smoke an occasional cigar when I go out or play golf. Can I qualify for non-smoker rates?
Yes, it is possible to get non-smoker rates for occasional cigar use, chewing tobacco or smoking a pipe.

I’m going to quit smoking in the next year or so. What type of term policy would you suggest?
A convertible 10 year term policy will be the most cost effective way to provide coverage while you are trying to quit. Once you’ve been nicotine free for at least one year, and assuming you are still healthy, you can reapply for non-smoker rates. If you have become uninsurable in the meantime do to failing health, you can convert all or a portion of your 10 year term plan to a more permanent plan without any evidence of insurability or without health questions or insurance exam.

How do life insurance companies define who is a smoker?
The criteria for “who is considered a smoker” varies between companies. Most companies define smoker as any nicotine use (including Gum and Patch) within the last 1 to 3 years. There are a few companies that might give non-smoker rates for gum, patch, cigar, limited cigarette use, pipes and chewing tobacco.

What are the rate classes for smokers?
Preferred Smoker, (an otherwise healthy smoker) Standard Smoker (A smoker with other minor health issues) Table Rated Smoker (A smoker with a significant health issue)

Is anyone who applies for life insurance and gives blood and urine samples tested for nicotine usage?
Yes, the insurance companies check the urine sample for Cotinine and other chemicals.

What is Cotinine and why is it important for smokers who are shopping for life insurance?
Cotinine is a chemical that is produced by people who use nicotine. It is a marker that can accurately predict your degree of nicotine usage. This chemical is present even after one has stopped smoking in the short term.

Why are cigarette smokers charged so much more for life insurance?
Cigarette smoking has so many negative health aspects that it statistically decreases one’s life span significantly. When pricing for this, most insurance companies are inclined to charge a great deal more than they do for non-smokers. However, this a competitive market and there are a significant number of companies with excellent smoker rates.

How long must a wait after quitting smoking to be eligible for non-smoker rates?
One year, for a good number of life insurance companies.

If I quit smoking 2 years ago and still use nicotine gum or the patch, how might I be classified?
The vast majority of life insurance companies will consider you a smoker. A very small number might offer non-smoker rates if you are otherwise healthy.

If I have purchased a policy as a smoker and then I’m nicotine-free for one year, can I apply for reduced rates as a non-smoker?
Yes, but most companies will want to underwrite you all over again-including a new physical exam… In general, if you are healthy and have been nicotine free for one year or more, you’ll have the benefit of being able to re-shop the marketplace for the best non-smoker coverage.

What if I don’t disclose my smoking habits or nicotine use on the application?
Not a good idea. It is likely that your nicotine usage will be detected in your urine sample. When applying for coverage, it is always best to be honest and disclose your actual smoking habits. Insurance companies have wording in their policies called the Contestability Clause, which gives them the right to investigate (contest) a death claim in the first two years after the policy is in force. If they uncover information that is contrary to your answers on the application or wasn’t disclosed by you, they could reduce or even deny the death claim.

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