Is Life Insurance Expensive If You Smoke Weed? Does Vaping Count?

Is Life Insurance Expensive If You Smoke Weed? Does Vaping Count?

This article was originally published on Cannabis.net and appears here with permission.

Yes, life insurance for smokers is expensive. There are a couple of reasons for that, which this article will provide answers to. However, you can still turn the situation around if you quit.

As a smoker, you most likely understand the effect the act has on your health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking results in several diseases, disabilities, and death in the U.S.

Unfortunately, smoking causes over 450,000 deaths per year. Such a statistic is an unpleasant detail to quote, but the cons don't stop there. The higher cost of life insurance for smokers is another element on the list of the effects smoking has on its user.

Before diving deeper into the fundamentals of this Life Insurance policy, let’s find out what counts as smoking.

What Counts As Smoking?

Any activity that delivers nicotine to the body is termed smoking. So, cigarettes count as smoking. But more activities also fall into the ‘smoking’ category. So, whether you're a 'tobacco user' or 'nicotine user,' life insurance companies see you as a smoker.  Cannabis smokers would be consider a "smoker" because you are combusting something and inhaling it, so smoking weed would be consider "a smoker".

Using the following devices or substances makes you a smoker:

  • Vapes and e-cigarettes

  • Bidis

  • Pipes

  • Hookahs

  • Cigars

  • Snuff

  • Chewing tobacco

  • Heated tobacco products

  • Dissolvable tobacco

  • Nicotine replacement therapies (patches, nose sprays, lozenges, inhalers, gum)

Beyond the above, if you consume marijuana, irrespective of the potency, some life insurance firms categorize you as a smoker. The classification, in this case, depends on whether you seldom or frequently consume marijuana.

Regular cigar users are also considered smokers. But you can get a non-smoker’s rate if you seldom consume the product. 'Seldom' here means you smoke a cigar for a maximum of one time per month.

Different Life Insurance companies have their tolerance limits. So, you have to find out if your insurance company of choice sees you as a smoker or not.

How does Smoking Influence Life Insurance cost?

Smoking makes the body more susceptible to illnesses. So, this makes insurance premiums for smokers costlier. When you smoke, it gradually reduces the effective functioning of blood vessels. Long-term, this can lead to high blood pressure and other heart diseases. The smoked substances can also irritate your lungs, potentially leading to infections.

Of course, health issues can arise in non-smokers, but there’s a high chance of a faster and deadlier occurrence for smokers. So, when you apply for life insurance, the company reviews your health record. The review process is called underwriting.

You should know that when you apply for life insurance, it's important only to speak the truth. The insurance companies have a way of verifying everything you say. If any insurance company catches you lying, other companies will surely know. Firstly, they’ll conduct a life insurance medical exam for you. At this point, they’ll take your blood and urine samples.

When they do, if you smoke, they’ll find traces of cotinine – a nicotine byproduct. This byproduct can also be found in your saliva and hair. These test processes may not work on someone who smoked 3 or 4 days ago. This is why numerous smokers who apply for life insurance hide the condition. But it’s almost impossible to outwit the investigative prowess of insurance companies.

They check:

  • Doctor records: This is a routine check that almost always reveals nicotine.

  • Pharmaceutical databases: The company checks for your current and past prescriptions in search of smoking-cessation drugs

  • Previous insurance applications: There is central storage for all life and health insurance applications. So, if you’re applying to a new insurance company, they can find your previous applications.

  • Social media: Since everyone posts great details of their lives on social media, the different platforms have become a tool for insurance companies to look out for evidence.

  • Your voice: Some insurance companies are equipped with technology that predicts if you're a smoker by listening to your voice. The data from the examination here combines with other details like social and demographic background.

If any of these checking tools flag a possible presence of nicotine in your life, the company will give you insurance at a higher premium compared to non-smokers.

Comparing Life Insurance for Smokers and Non-Smokers

On average, the cost of life insurance for smokers is more than two times higher than for non-smokers. In some cases, it can be 3 or 4 times higher. How high it will be depends on age, coverage amount, and gender.

For instance, if the average cost of life insurance for a non-smoking 30-year-old male is $300, the average for a smoker in the same age bracket goes up to about $800+. In many cases, for a 20-year term of $500,000 death benefit life insurance, smokers may be required to pay up to 5 times more.

Since insurance companies have varying criteria to classify applicants, the following grouping may be slightly incorrect. But most companies use this grouping, which reflects a difference in insurance cost rates.

  • Super preferred non-smoker: This refers to people who haven’t ingested nicotine or tobacco in the last four to five years.

  • Preferred non-smoker: This refers to people who haven’t used nicotine or tobacco in the last two years.

  • Standard non-smoker refers to people who don't smoke but are of average health.

  • Preferred smoker: This refers to people who smoke occasionally – who have used nicotine or tobacco within the last year

  • Standard smoker: This refers to regular smokers of average health.

Below is a table exploring life insurance costs for both extremes of a super-preferred non-smoker and a standard smoker.

Age

Gender

Super preferred non-smoker

Standard smoker

25

female

$187

$708

25

male

$225

$1,018

30

female

$193

$809

30

male

$229

$1,055

35

female

$209

$1,050

35

male

$248

$1,390

40

female

$290

$1,435

40

male

$341

$2,080

45

female

$438

$2,451

45

male

$549

$3,260

50

female

$654

$3,460

50

Male

$841

$4,590

55

female

$993

$5.068

55

male

$1,350

$7,170

60

female

$1,684

$8,021

60

male

$2,366

$11,274

Frequently Asked Questions about Life Insurance for Smokers

Can I be denied life insurance if I smoke?

No, you won’t be denied an application for life insurance. You have a right to insurance despite being a smoker. You’ll just have to pay more.

Does all life insurance require a medical exam?

No, not all life insurance policies necessitate medical exams. For instance, the guaranteed issue of life insurance doesn't. The rates for this kind of insurance policy are exorbitant because the insurer doesn't do many background checks.

Also, the coverage is usually low – between $5000 and $25,000. So, there's no point in trying to avoid the standard life insurance medical exam just for this.

How long ago should I have quit smoking to be considered a non-smoker?

To be considered a non-smoker, your last usage must be more than 12 months ago. Though, it's best to confirm this from your insurance company of interest.

What if I start smoking after purchasing life insurance?

If you start smoking after buying life insurance at a non-smoker rate, there will be no increase in the rate. So, even if you smoke every hour of the day after purchase, you’ll still enjoy the benefit meant for the non-smoker insurance package you bought.

Insurance companies believe statistics state that if applicants don't start smoking before 18 years, they have a very low tendency to start later in life. So, even if you start smoking after applying, they are less concerned.

What if I quit smoking after buying insurance at the smoker rate?

If you stop smoking after buying insurance at the smoker rate, it's possible to get a reduced rate in the future. It will help if you communicate with your insurance company about the development. They'll give you a threshold to pass to be considered a non-smoker. The waiting period is usually for a year.

You'll complete a medical exam and do a new health evaluation to get a reduced rate. It'll influence the new rate if you've fallen victim to any new disease since you bought the initial rate.

Summarily, quitting smoking after buying a smoker's rate insurance doesn't mean you automatically get a drastic reduction.

What can I do to get a non-smoker life insurance policy?

The best thing to do is to quit smoking. It’s no secret that the habit has detrimental effects on the body. Quitting smoking can save you from many issues that may hike your life insurance cost. If you quit today, you'll be able to apply as a non-smoker next year. Beyond the fact that quitting will help you save on insurance costs, it'll also help you lead a healthier life.

Irrespective of how addicted you are to smoking, you can always quit. Saving on insurance rates can be an incentive.  

Conclusion

It's important to watch your health and make the best choices. The life insurance policy is one more reason smokers should quit. By quitting, you'll be able to choose a life insurance company to meet your needs confidently.

The life insurance policy works for all but remains cheaper for some than others. Furthermore, it's important to ask questions from your insurance company before committing your signature. Being clear about every aspect of your life insurance policy application prevents your family from being caught in any legal tussle in the future.

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