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Unless you have more money in the bank than your beneficiaries will ever need, life insurance is an important part of financial planning. But if you smoke, you may wonder whether a company will insure you. The answer is yes, but you'll pay more for a policy than a nonsmoker. Here, we'll outline the best life insurance companies for smokers and tell you what we like (and don't like) about each of them.
After review, here are five companies we consider among the best for providing smokers with insurance coverage.
Not only will Prudential cover cigarette smokers, but the company sometimes offers occasional marijuana smokers a nonsmoking rate (as long they don't smoke cigarettes too). So if you're a medical marijuana smoker or an occasional user, Prudential is unlikely to classify you as high risk.
While you can receive a quote online, you'll need to work with a Prudential agent to purchase a policy. And like most life insurance providers, Prudential will require a medical exam to check for pre-existing conditions unless you qualify for its PruFast Track accelerated underwriting. Once you're through the exam, you'll need to decide which type of life insurance for smokers you want to buy: term, variable, or guaranteed universal life.
Besides having a reputation for great customer service, Prudential has an AM Best rating of A+ for financial strength.
Ethos Life makes our list of best life insurance for smokers for those who don't want to undergo a life insurance medical exam or need coverage to begin immediately. The company has a 100% online application process, even for smokers and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Ethos offers policy terms ranging from 10 to 30 years, as well as up to $2 million worth of coverage. If you're a smoker in poor health, you can obtain guaranteed-issue life insurance for up to $30,000. Legal & General America, which issues Ethos policies, gets an A+ rating from AM Best for its financial strength.
Northwestern Mutual doesn't publish its rates online or offer online quotes, but customers report that the company offers competitive term life rates for smokers and people with medical issues. The company also has a number of term life alternatives, including whole life policies with a long history of paying dividends.
If you're hoping to conduct all life insurance business online or via a mobile app, Northwestern Mutual may not be for you. But if you want to experience top-notch customer service, the company is worth considering.
Northwestern Mutual has a superior reputation for financial strength, earning an A++ rating from AM Best. And as a mutual insurance company, Northwestern Mutual is owned by its policyholders, much like credit union members are also owners.
American International Group (AIG) also makes our "best for smokers" list. Although the company's no-exam policy options are limited, customers willing to undergo a medical exam have their choice of term and whole life policies.
And if you're a cigar smoker only, premiums may be lower than a cigarette smoker's rates. That's because AIG differentiates between cigarette and occasional cigar smokers. If an applicant smokes less than one cigar a week, AIG won't consider it a factor as long as a few other criteria are met, like a urinalysis that's negative for nicotine metabolites.
AIG states that rates are based on the overall picture of an applicant's health rather than one single factor, making AIG an excellent option for smokers.
Yes, you can purchase a life insurance policy if you smoke, but your premium is likely to be significantly more expensive than the rate offered to a nonsmoker. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the life expectancy for a smoker is at least 10 years shorter than that of a nonsmoker. It's all about risk analysis for insurance companies, and insurers factor in the increased risk of premature death as they set premiums.
When applying for coverage, it's important to be honest about your smoking habits. If the policy you're applying for requires a medical exam, blood and urine tests will indicate nicotine in your system. If you fail to disclose the fact that you smoke, the insurer is likely to deny your application. Lying on your application could also result in the insurer canceling your policy or refusing to pay the death benefit.
Most life insurance companies classify smokers in one of three categories:
Preferred smokers generally pay the lowest premiums, though smokers can almost always expect to pay higher rates than nonsmokers of the same age with similar health.
This table illustrates the average cost of life insurance for both nonsmokers and smokers for a $500,000 with a 20-year term:
|Age||Nonsmoker rate||Smoker rate|
The earlier you purchase life insurance, the lower the premium will be.
Many insurers will allow you to qualify for nonsmoker rates once you've been tobacco-free for one or two years, through a process called re-entering. You'll need to provide the company with proof that you've been a nonsmoker for a year or more. One way to do that is to ask your family physician to write a note. You'll also probably need to undergo another life insurance medical exam.
If you believe there's a chance you'll give up tobacco, make it a point to choose an insurance company that allows policyholders to re-enter.
For smokers, here are several hallmarks of a great life insurance policy:
As with any financial product, it pays to shop around. You're looking for coverage that's both comprehensive and affordable. Rates will vary by company.
If you don't plan to smoke forever, the best life insurance policy for you is one that allows policyholders to re-enter after giving up tobacco products.
Let's say what you can afford today is term life insurance, but you really like the features of a more expensive whole life policy. Even if you're not sure you'll ever purchase whole life insurance, the best move is to leave the option open.
Life insurance is a remarkable financial tool, available to all kinds of people, including those who are healthy, those with pre-existing conditions, and smokers. The trick is to check highly rated companies like those who make our "best of" lists.
|Offer||Best For||Next Steps|
|Great For: Best for marijuana smokers|
Banner Life Insurance
|Great For: Best for affordable premiums|
|Great For: Best for no-exam life insurance|
|Great For: Best for whole life policies|
|Great For: Best for cigar smokers|
It depends on whether you smoke cigarettes, cigars, or marijuana. Some insurers, like AIG, may be best for a person who smokes a few cigars each year. Others, like Prudential, are relatively forgiving of medical cannabis users and occasional marijuana smokers.
While what qualifies as a smoker varies by the insurance company, you may be rated as a smoker if you smoke cigarettes, cigars, or marijuana. The same is true if you vape tobacco or marijuana, or chew tobacco -- even occasionally. You may also be considered a smoker if you use nicotine patches or gum.
Yes, most life insurance companies consider vaping the same as smoking cigarettes. Though you can qualify for life insurance if you use e-cigarettes, you’ll pay substantially higher rates.
Life insurance is nearly always available to smokers, although premiums are more expensive for smokers than nonsmokers. Statistics indicate that smokers are likely to die at a younger age than nonsmokers, and insurance companies factor that statistic into premiums.
If the policy for which you apply requires a medical exam, both blood and urine tests show whether there is nicotine in your system. If you lie about smoking, your application will be denied.
You typically don’t want to delay buying life insurance because doing so would leave your loved ones without financial protection. Also, your rates increase as you get older. If you’re trying to quit smoking, look for a policy that allows you to re-enter. You could also buy a term life policy, then cancel it after you quit and qualify for lower nonsmoker rates.
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