Best Term Life Insurance for Ex and Current Smokers

Last updated July 5, 2018

life insurance for smokersIf you’re one of the many millions of Americans who smoke, you probably think that affordable life insurance is not an option for you. Typically, it’s true that people who smoke will pay more for life insurance, but with a little effort, you can find a policy that will not only fit your lifestyle, but also fit your budget.

Term Life Insurance for Smokers

What is life insurance for smokers?

Life insurance companies typically classify you as a smoker (tobacco rates) if you are either a current smoker, or have quit less than 12 months ago.

Best Life Insurance Companies for Tobacco Users
CompanyTrue Blue NoteMedical Exam?Time to Approval?

Best rates for smokersMedical Exam Required2-6 weeks

Very good rates for smokersMedical Exam Required2-6 weeks

Very good rates for smokersMedical Exam Required4 – 12 weeks
No Medical Exam

Best rates for smokers (no exam)No Exam for coverage under $500,0007 – 30 days

Very good rates for smokers (no exam)No Exam for coverage under $500,000Same day approval

Very good rates for smokers (no exam)No Exam for coverage under $500,0002 – 14 days

Life insurance for smokers

How long do I have to quit before I can get non-smoker rates?

Many insurance companies classify you as a non-smoker (non-tobacco) after 12 months of quitting.

Best life insurance companies for ex smokers
CompanyTrue Blue NoteMedical Exam?Time to Approval?

  • Standard/Regular Plus rates after 1 year
  • Preferred rates after 2 years
  • Preferred Plus rates after 3 years

Medical Exam Required2-6 weeks

  • Standard/Regular Plus rates after 1 year
  • Preferred rates after 2 years
  • Preferred Plus rates after 5 years

Medical Exam Required2-6 weeks
No Medical Exam

  • Preferred rates after 2 years

No Exam for coverage under $500,0002 – 14 days

  • Standard rates after 1 year
  • Standard/Regular Plus rates after 2 years
  • Preferred rates after 3 years
  • Preferred Plus rates after 5 years

No Exam for coverage under $500,0007 – 30 days

The Tobacco Industry

First of all, let’s take a quick look at the tobacco industry in general.

life insurance for smokersAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, an estimated 17.8 percent—that’s 42.1 million—U.S. adults were current cigarette smokers. Of these, 76.9 percent smoked every day, while 23.1 percent smoked only on “some days.” That’s a lot of smokers. And they’re smoking a lot of cigarettes. During 2014, nearly 264 billion cigarettes were sold in the United States alone.

Tobacco industry revenue is over $664 billion. That’s more than the gross domestic product of all but 18 nations.

And although U.S. tobacco production has decreased significantly since the 1980s (from nearly 180,000 tobacco-growing farms to about 10,000 in 2012), the United States continues to be a leading producer of tobacco leaves. The U.S. is the fourth largest tobacco-producing country in the world, behind only China, India, and Brazil.

More Than Cigarettes

As far as the life insurance industry is concerned, your cigarette smoking isn’t the only form of tobacco use a life insurance provider considers when you are applying for a policy. If you use other tobacco-related products like:

  • cigars
  • chewing/smokeless tobacco
  • electronic cigarettes
  • nicotine patches/gum
  • marijuana

you may have to pay more for your term life insurance policy than you would if you didn’t use any of those products. Let’s look at some of them more closely:

Cigars: This includes big cigars, little cigars, and every cigar in between, even cigarillos. About 13 billion cigars were sold in the United States in 2014. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have an occasional puff if an appropriate celebration breaks out. But even if you only partake a few times each year, how it affects your premiums as deemed by the insurance industry is going to vary from one provider to the next. There is no set standard.

Nicotine Patches and Gum: If you are currently using a nicotine patch or if you are chewing nicotine gum, it’s fairly obvious that you are trying to kick a habit. While that may seem like a point in your favor as far as determining whether you are considered a tobacco user, it’s actually likely to work against you. The patches and gums still deliver nicotine to the body, just like cigarettes and other tobacco products do. So regardless of how it’s getting into your system, it could increase your risk for developing heart disease, which is something that won’t go over well with insurance providers.

Marijuana: Some life insurance companies are OK with your marijuana use, especially if it’s for medicinal life insurance marijuanapurposes. Others, not so much. In fact, you could be denied coverage if they find out you use it. As a result, if you use marijuana for one reason or another and you want to purchase a life insurance policy, it’s best to check with a licensed agent to see if it’s acceptable before submitting your application.

Marijuana use is looked at with an extremely varied eye in the insurance industry. Some states have legalized it. Some haven’t. Four states—Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington (plus Washington, D.C.) have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Many other states allow some legal use of marijuana, primarily for medicinal purposes.

Higher Premiums … Usually

Tobacco users generally pay higher premiums for their life insurance than people who don’t use tobacco. Why? People who smoke and use tobacco products are more likely to die—and at an earlier age—than people who don’t.

Over 20 percent of all deaths in the U.S. are from tobacco use. That’s more than murders, car accidents, and HIV/AIDS combined. One person dies every six seconds from a tobacco-related disease. So it’s no wonder the insurance industry is leery when it comes to insuring tobacco/nicotine users. A life insurance company is far more likely to have to pay out a benefit to the insured—and much earlier than they’d have to for non-tobacco users.

life insurance tobaccoSo when it comes to people who smoke (or use other tobacco products), those policyholders usually have to pay higher premiums. Your best bet is to shop around to find the best policy for your particular situation. There are many varying factors involved, so it would benefit you to work with a licensed agent who deals with these issues on a daily basis.

As a note of encouragement, though—just because you are currently labeled as a “smoker” or a “tobacco user,” it doesn’t mean you’re going to have to pay higher premiums forever. In fact, let’s say you quit using tobacco-related products for a year. You could then take a medical exam or a blood, saliva, or urine test to confirm your new status. It’s possible that the insurance company would re-evaluate your situation and then lower your premium payments as a result.

Questions You Will Have to Answer

One of the first questions you are going to be asked when you apply for life insurance is regarding your tobacco/nicotine use. Are you a current user? Did you quit within the past year? Maybe you stopped several years ago.

No matter what tobacco-related product you are using, some providers are going to charge you more for a life insurance policy if you admit to using any of them, past or present. Maybe you stopped six months ago. Maybe it has been a full year. Some insurance companies will require you to be free from having used any tobacco-related product for as long as five years before they’ll give you a “non-smoker” rate.

The timing matters in the eyes of the insurance company, although to what extent will vary depending on the insurer. That’s why it pays to do your research and shop around for the best policy.

Honesty in the Best Policy

Make sure you are honest about your tobacco usage on your life insurance application. Lying is not only consideredLife insurance coverage fraud, but the truth will eventually come out when you take a medical exam that would likely include blood, saliva, or urine tests. Nicotine/contitine and other tobacco-related substances could take days, maybe even weeks or longer, to get out of your system. It really depends on how much you have used and for how long you’ve been using it.

The end result for you? Best case scenario, the insurance company will simply raise your rates and label you a tobacco user. But you could also be refused coverage—or worse. Lying on your life insurance application isn’t worth the risk.

If you decide to pursue a no-exam policy—which probably sounds like a good idea if you are a smoker or if you use tobacco-related products—you can avoid the testing, but it will likely be more expensive as a result. Why? Because the insurance company doesn’t know much about your health, so issuing a policy would put them at greater risk. They cover those risks by charging higher premiums.

Affordable Life Insurance for Smokers: Your Solution

As a smoker or tobacco user, you have a wide variety of options available in selecting the best and most affordable term life insurance policy for your given situation. This requires some time and effort, but it’s worth it. The problem is, you may not have the time.

At True Blue Life Insurance, we will work with you to do that research and help you find the best policy. You won’t have to randomly search the internet hoping to find your best solution—or what you think is your best solution. We don’t just compare rates. We get you insured as well. And nobody is quicker than True Blue. Our business model is built on providing instant life insurance rates and utilizing technology to get policies issued with no wasted time.

A licensed True Blue Life Insurance agent can help you. Just call 1-866-816-2100 and ask how you can purchase the best life insurance policy for you. There is affordable life insurance for smokers and tobacco users.

2 replies
  1. Tom bollinger
    Tom bollinger says:

    I think charging higher premiums to smokers is discrimination. And if it ever went to the supreme court I feel all 9 justices would agree.

    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi Tom!

      As a former “pack a day” smoker, I understand the point you are trying to make. While it can be seen as discriminatory, tobacco use status is not a protected class when it comes to discrimination. Skydivers and deep sea divers also face higher life insurance premiums because their recreational hobbies pose a higher risk of death than others who don’t participate.

      Underwriters at life insurance companies see smoking as a risk, as smoking increases the chances of death by 12-27% when compared to non-smokers. Since almost all insurance rates are based on how much risk the applicant carries, insurance companies evaluate said risk based on their own risk management standards and set the price for insurance based on the company’s current risk tolerance level. This is why you have changes in premiums periodically.

      In regards to smoking and mortality, a great resource to look at is the CDC report on the statistics of smoking:

      I hope this helps!



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About Brian Greenberg

Brian started his financial career working for Metlife Insurance Company. Using his internet skills, he decided to pursue a better way to provide customers with life insurance by building a quoting engine and underwriting fulfilment process. With True Blue Life Insurance, Brian is licensed to sell life, health, and annuities throughout the United States. He is committed to constantly improving the online life insurance process.