Financially speaking, life insurance is a key component to a full-fledged financial plan. And, for those of you who smoke, it may be even more important.
We all know that smoking is bad for us and significantly reduces our life expectancy. The last 50 years of statistics bear this out and you can bet that insurance companies pay close attention to the data.
As a result, unfortunately for smokers and even ex-smokers alike, finding life insurance at an affordable rate can be a daunting proposition. Life insurance for smokers can sometimes cost double to four times more for life insurance than non-smokers.
Smoking can be expensive, as anyone who smokes a $5 pack of cigarettes can attest, adding up to $1,825 a year for a pack a day.
That’s a costly habit. And it only gets more expensive when you factor in hidden costs such as more medical problems to pay for and higher car and home insurance rates.
The same goes for a smokers life insurance policy. On average, a smoker (or anyone who uses tobacco products) pays 2-3x as much as a non-smoker will, all things being equal.
This is because the health risks which tend to limit the life expectancy of a smoker by a few years when compared to a person who has never used tobacco, making a smoker a high-risk life insurance applicant.
In this post, we’ll provide a little advice and a few ideas on things to consider when looking for affordable coverage as a smoker or recent ex-smoker.
We’ll also walk you through the process of comparing quotes from competing providers to help ensure you get the insurance you and your family need, whatever your current or past habits.
Quick Guide / Table of Contents:
- Why Are Smoker Rates Higher?
- Examples of Different Rates
- How to Lower Your Life Insurance Costs
- Bottom Line
Regardless of your health or cigarette usage, you should be able to get an affordable and quality life insurance plan to protect your family. If you were to pass away, your loved ones would be left with a massive amount of debt and unpaid expenses.
Not having life insurance is one of the worst things that you can do for the future of your family, but just because you’re a smoker doesn’t mean that your premiums have to break your bank every month.
If you would like to know about the different companies and what types of coverage they offer we can help. There are also company reviews you can read to help better educate you on your decision such as our review on Globe Life Insurance.
Shorter Life Span, Higher Insurance Rates
On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases, and for every person who dies from a smoking-related disease, 20 more people suffer from at least one serious illness from smoking.
An analysis by BestLifeQuote.com found that for a 45-year-old man who smokes tobacco, his monthly premium for 20-year term life insurance policy of $500,000 would be as low as $289, with most insurers offering a monthly premium of around $300.
For the same policy for the same man who didn’t smoke, the monthly premium would drop to as low as $52, with the average at around $80.
That’s almost four times as much higher for the smoker. That difference of $220 per month could buy a lot more life insurance for a non-smoker.
For a smoker in very good health besides smoking, they may get a “preferred nicotine rate” than a tobacco smoker with a standard or substandard life insurance rate who has a family history of cancer or other illnesses, says Cindy V. Gentry, incoming chair of the LIFE Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers make insurance decisions, such as with its life insurance needs calculator.
“If you’ve got somebody who smokes a pack a day, you could save $5 a day,” Gentry says. “And that’s a lot of money you could spend on life insurance.”
Term life insurance rates are at least 50% higher for tobacco users, she says, and some insurers will include e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars, pipe smoking and other forms of nicotine use that don’t require inhaling tobacco smoke in those higher rates.
Whole life insurance rates can be about 20% higher for smokers.
Other lifestyles or medical conditions that can cause life insurance rates to be as high as tobacco users pay include pilots, people with diabetes, and cancer patients who beat cancer but have a chance of the disease returning, Gentry says.
Obtaining An Affordable Rate As A Smoker or Recent Non-Smoker
To start off, it’s critical to find the right representative and insurance company. While a life insurance representative is not someone you talk to every day, this is one of those “seldom seen”, but pivotal relationships.
You can certainly call the state and national providers 1-800 numbers to start gathering quotes, but there’s a better way, and that’s why we are here.
We make it easy to get the largest number of competitive life insurance quotes for smokers and recent ex-smokers around, so you can compare the best life insurance companies rates for you and your family.
Let’s look at some different situations, some of the companies to expect and the prices you’ll be looking at:
30-year-old male smoker looking for $250,000 of coverage for a 20-year term
In this case here are the top 3 Quotes:
40-year-old smoker looking for $250,000 of coverage over the same 20-year term
Top 3 Quotes:
- Transamerica: $92.75 Per Month
- Banner Life $95.59 Per Month
- ING: $99.31 Per Month
50-year-old smoker looking for $250,000 of coverage over the same 20-year term
Top 3 Quotes:
- Transamerica $221.16 Per Month
- Banner Life $223.78 Per Month
- American General $225.01
The preceding examples provide a great case for why it’s best to work with an independent broker and get as many quotes as possible.
As you may have noted, the rates cited above show that the same company may not always provide the best price from one age bracket to another, and it’s no wonder.
As we’ve noted elsewhere on these pages, finding the best price is dependent on a variety of factors including age, coverage amount, lifestyle, family medical history, such as a history of cancer, and any other health factors and/or pre-existing conditions as well.
Choosing to go with a company that offers a policy that does not require a medical exam will also lead to higher rates. Colonial Penn Insurance is one company that is highly recognized for offering the guaranteed issue no exam plan, which is not the most affordable for anyone!
The bottom line is, when it comes to finding life insurance for smokers or recent ex-smokers it’s important to get as many quotes as possible and compare them until you find the best price for you and your family.
And while comparing is an easy the first step, understanding the “fine print” is equally important. Ok, so let’s say you’ve gone through the process, gotten a number of quotes and for whatever reason, the rates provided are still too high for your budget.
Can You Lower Your Costs?
At first glance, you might be worried that you can’t get affordable life insurance as a smoker. Think again.
Here are some tips to help you reduce those costs:
Reducing the Term Length
It may be the length of the life insurance that is the culprit. In this case, you can save money by going with a shorter term. You have to balance budget as well as finding the right term length that works best for you and your family.
Reducing the Coverage Amount
The first thing to consider when trying to bring down your life insurance premiums as a smoker or recent ex-smoker is to take a good look at how much life insurance you would really need to leave behind for your family, and for how many years it will be used?
A good place to start is by calculating the normal operating costs of your household, the remaining amount of your home mortgage that needs to be paid off or other factors including your children’s future college education, etc.
Next, create a concrete list of what is important for you and your family and how much coverage is absolutely necessary and for how long based on the duration of those debts and the current interest rates being paid on those debts.
Such an exercise may reveal that you actually need less coverage than you originally thought, and could help with saving money in the long run.
Renewing Your Term Every Year
While this is not a viable long term solution, those interested in life insurance for a short amount of time, or for those on a tighter monthly budget may consider the annual renewable term.
Be aware that initially this may be the cheapest route, but over time the rate will increase every year. As such, it’s a good idea to get into a longer term or permanent life policy sooner than later.
Consider Quitting Smoking
If quitting smoking in the near future is part of the plan, that’s great news. In that case, and you are serious about it, but still want to get life insurance now, it might be good to consider opting for a short term policy.
This way you can apply for a long term policy with better terms once you are not smoking and no longer have to pay the higher rates associated.
Remember that every additional year you remain tobacco-free and retested as such means your rates will continue to get better. After a year of not smoking, you will usually get the Standard Non-Tobacco Rate which is great news.
What’s more, after 3 years of not smoking, you will be eligible for the best possible rates as a non-smoker.
To quit smoking and get a non-smoker insurance rate, a smoker will have to quit for at least a year, and sometimes as long as five years. Once they get the lower rate after quitting smoking, policyholders aren’t required to be tested again for nicotine.
For smokers who want to quit this expensive and deadly habit, they’re not alone. The CDC reports that approximately 69% of smokers want to quit completely, and 52% of smokers attempted to quit in 2010.
That can add up to a lot fewer packs of cigarettes being bought, and a lot more ex-smokers possibly getting lower life insurance rates.
Improve Your Health
The better health you’re in, the better the results from the medical exam, which is going to translate into more money saved.
First, start a healthy diet and stick to it.
Eliminating junk food and replacing it with healthier options, this is going to have positive impacts on your health. It can lower your weight lower your blood pressure, and lower your cholesterol.
But if you are overweight, you call still obtain quotes from companies who offer the best life insurance for obese individuals.
Next, start getting regular exercise.
Just like a diet, it’s going to have a positive impact on your health, which is going to mean better results from the medical exam. You don’t have to be a marathon runner to get better insurance premium rates.
Because each insurer looks at smoking through such a different lens, we highly suggest taking the time to call us in order to find the company who is best matched to your personal use of tobacco.
If you are ready, feel free to compare rates using our quote tool on this page – or call us at 1-888-552-6159. It’s easy, fast, safe and always secure.
Check out life insurance rates for marijuana smokers, here.