Thursday, April 18, 2013

So How Exactly Does Tobacco Use Affect What You Can Do To Obtain Life Insurance Coverage

Tobacco users typically pay higher life insurance premiums.

Whether you use tobacco has an impact on how life insurance companies view you for rating purposes. Even if you are young and in perfect health, you probably won't receive the lowest available premium if you use any form of tobacco. Tobacco use is detectable in many cases, so it is important to tell the truth during the application process.


Tobacco use may be most frequently associated with smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars. For life insurance rating purposes, most companies also include the use of smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco or snuff. Some companies may even view the use of any product containing nicotine, like nicotine patches or gum that are used to help people stop smoking, as a negative and will charge a higher premium for their use.


Tobacco use typically does not prevent you from obtaining life insurance coverage unless you currently have or have had a tobacco-related chronic illness such as emphysema, lung cancer or oral cancer. However, tobacco use does impact how insurance companies classify you for rating purposes. Generally, a tobacco user will pay a higher premium for life insurance than a non-tobacco user with similar characteristics such as age, gender, health history and occupation due to the increased risk of a shortened life span.


Tobacco use guidelines vary widely from one insurance company to another. One company may consider use a non-user if you haven't indulged in the previous 12 months, while others may require you to be tobacco-free for several years. Some companies may allow "recreational use" when issuing non-user rates, such as 12 cigars a year. If you've used tobacco in the past or smoke an occasional cigar, it is beneficial to check the guidelines of several insurers when searching for the best rates.


Depending on the company's underwriting guidelines and the amount of insurance, you may have to take a nicotine test as a condition of approval for non-tobacco rates. Testing usually involves providing a blood or urine sample. In general, nicotine can show in you system for about 72 hours, although this can vary depending on the individual and the level of consumption. If your test yields a positive result, you'll likely be bumped to a more expensive tobacco-user rate at best, and charged with insurance fraud at worst.

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