Life Insurance

Smoking and Life Insurance Explained

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Being a smoker won't necessarily stop you from finding life insurance, but it'll likely impact your rates. Smoking and life insurance have a relatively direct relationship. Life insurance rates for smokers incorporate the health risks associated with nicotine and smoking. Since those health risks can be so extreme, the rates for life insurance policies can increase significantly.

That doesn't mean it's not a good idea to buy life insurance as a smoker. Many variables factor into whether life insurance could be right for you. While smoking can increase your rates, it can also indicate the need for life insurance. One important tip for a smoker looking for life insurance is to always be upfront about smoking when filling out a life insurance application. 

Can you be denied life insurance if you smoke?

Generally, companies don't deny applicants simply for smoking, but they'll usually offer higher rates. However, if you conceal that you smoke on your application, it could result in the application being denied or the policy being voided. 

Overall, blanket denials are uncommon in the life insurance industry. Instead, when high-risk applicants look for life insurance, they may be more likely to experience increased rates than a denial. 

Some companies even specialize in high-risk life insurance, like life insurance for smokers.

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What will void a life insurance policy?

One of the things that could void a life insurance policy is intentional misinformation on insurance applications. This certainly includes concealing that you're a smoker, but it also applies to any other deliberate misinformation. 

Because insurance is based on risk assessment, insurers must have accurate data to perform underwriting. Concealing relevant information, especially when asked for, generally constitutes insurance fraud. 

The other primary way a policy can be voided is if the premiums cease to be paid. There are grace periods for missing a payment, but the policy will go out of force if payments are stopped long enough.

How does smoking affect life insurance?

Many insurers use a separate rate classification system for smokers and non-smokers. Due to the increased health risks associated with smoking, tiers for smokers have higher rates than their equivalent non-smoker tiers. 

For instance, an applicant can be at the standard tier, and either a smoker or a non-smoker, but the standard classification for non-smokers is less costly than for smokers. Essentially, companies assess smokers' and non-smokers' overall health risks and then use that data to determine their tier. 

Then the applicant is placed into either the smoking or non-smoking version of that tier. If you want to improve your health rating and potentially reduce your costs, consider these healthy habits for a $1 million policy.

How long after quitting smoking can you get life insurance?

Companies vary in their methods for classifying a smoker vs. non-smoker. However, a common rule is to be twelve months clean before you're considered a non-smoker. Depending on the insurer, the waiting period may be different, and some are less stringent about what counts as smoking within their rating system. For instance, many insurers include cigarettes, cigars, vape devices, and more, while others may only specify one or two of these nicotine consumption methods. 

Life insurance for smokers

While finding an insurer specializing in affordable high-risk life insurance may be an option, it could be a longshot. High-risk life insurance generally comes with higher premiums to offset that risk. Instead, some smokers focus on buying term policies when they're young or securing a permanent life insurance policy with fixed rates. 

The benefit of fixed rates, in this case, is that you can keep your premiums from rising as you age. If you later quit smoking for long enough, you may be able to request that the insurer recalculate your rates. Again, this will depend on the insurer and the policy. 

Get a free quote online and see which policies are available to you through Ethos.

When to buy life insurance

Remember that you can get life insurance as a smoker, but it could cost more. While buying life insurance as a smoker can lead to higher rates, that doesn't necessarily mean you should put off purchasing a policy until you've been smoke-free for 12 months. Life insurance can help guard against numerous financial risks.

Whether or not you're a smoker, there are risks to living without life insurance. For that reason, it's essential to consider other factors in your life when deciding whether to purchase a policy. Consider any debts you owe and whether you have funds available for your family's future.