When it comes to life insurance and cigarette smoking, there is no one carrier or type of coverage that one can predict as being the best value. Though rates for smokers are always higher than non-smokers, the difference increases dramatically as one grows older. Age and gender also affects which carrier is the best value.
What should you disclose about your smoking habits? The short answer is always be truthful because it is in your best interests to do so. Two drugs that insurance companies always test for are nicotine and cocaine. These are very sophisticated tests and can tell the difference between current use and second hand smoke. Remember that there is generally a two year contestability clause in each policy that concerns fraud in the application.
Will any company give non-smoker rates to smokers? Some carriers will give you an inducement to stop smoking by allowing premiums at a “standard” non-smoker rate for three years. This is only on permanent policies. If you have stopped during that time, you may continue with the lower premium, otherwise the rate will increase to smoker rates.
Not all insurance companies consider cigar or pipe smokers to automatically fall into a smoker’s category, and the differences can be dramatic. This also applies to people using a nicotine patch to assist them in quitting smoking.
Most insurance companies will allow a non-smoker rating after one year of no nicotine use, and the rating can improve with time. A good agent will discuss your smoking history in detail prior to suggesting the best value for your needs.
In my experience, most smokers want to stop. In order to qualify for term insurance at non-smoker rates, previous cigarette smokers must have stopped for a minimum of one year. If you have stopped recently, let your physician know and ask that an appropriate notation be made in your record.
If you’re in this situation you may consider the purchase of a 10 year term policy. It is usually less expensive than a shorter term policy, and there is no reason to pay for a longer guarantee. Remember, you most likely will be able to get a better rating in a couple of years, and a lower premium even though you are older. Consequently, in most cases there is no reason to pay for a longer guarantee on a policy you plan to replace.