Whole Life Insurance Rates for Smokers

Key Takeaway

Smokers can qualify for life insurance, butmay pay higher premiums for their policy. However, you should always disclose your smoking habits when applying for life insurance, because lying about it can result in a rescission of your policy.

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We believe life insurance is an important investment for anyone‒smokers and non-smokers alike–but don’t think many fully understand life insurance and how to use it. Certain permanent life insurance products can provide financial benefits that can help with planning for the future.

Understanding the different factors that impact insurance, such as the average cost of life insurance for married couples and what group universal life insurance can do for you, can help you make the most informed decision. In this article, we'll dive into whole life insurance and how your smoking habit may impact your whole life insurance rates.

What Is Whole Life Insurance?

Whole life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance. This means as long as you pay your monthly premiums, you will have coverage. Your premiums can be locked in, meaning they won’t increase over the span of your policy. 

These policies come with a death benefit that is usually paid out to your beneficiaries upon your passing. Additionally, this type of insurance product can come with a cash value account that can grow in value, and can be paid out in addition to your death benefit.

This cash value account is usually accessible to the policyholder during their lifetime once it has accumulated a certain amount of funds. The growth in this account is usually tax-deferred.

How Smoking Impacts Your Premium Rates

From smoking cigarettes to vaping to even chewing tobacco, your smoking habits or certain methods of tobacco consumption can make securing life insurance at a lower rate more challenging. This is because your risk for certain health conditions‒like lung cancer and heart disease‒are increased when you use these products.*

With whole life policies, insurance companies may typically require you to fill out a health questionnaire or undergo a medical exam when you apply for coverage. These insurance companies may categorize you as a tobacco user if you:

  • Smoke cigarettes or cigars 
  • Chew tobacco 
  • Vape tobacco or marijuana 
  • Smoke marijuana cigarettes, or use other smoking devices 

Even if you’re actively trying to kick your habit with nicotine gum or patches, you may be classified as a tobacco user from your medical exam because the nicotine presence in your body might raise a flag for the risk adjusters. There may be certain situations where occasional users are categorized as non-tobacco users, but this depends on your insurer.

The reason insurance companies often require you to undergo a medical exam before offering you rates is because they’re trying to evaluate your current health and lifestyle risks. Smokers and tobacco users may be charged higher premiums because smoking and tobacco use are often considered lifestyle risks by many insurance companies.

How to Lower Your Premium Rates

You should always be honest about your smoking and tobacco use, even if you want to secure a lower monthly premium; lying about your usage could be considered insurance fraud. Is it really  worth a lower monthly premium to risk legal issues. Additionally, if your medical tests show signs of nicotine usage, and if insurers find you were dishonest about your use, coverage may be denied or rescinded.

One of the best ways to improve your chances of lower rates is to not use tobacco products. You may find more success by waiting one to two years after quitting before applying for life insurance to make sure there is no longer evidence of tobacco or nicotine in your system.

In a Nutshell

Smoking and tobacco use may be considered high-risk lifestyle choices for insurers, which could potentially result in a denial of coverage or higher monthly premiums. Always be honest on your application for whole life insurance, and to increase your chances of a lower rate, try to overcome your smoking and nicotine habits and apply for insurance one to two years later.

Related Articles:

  1. Average Cost of Insurance for Married Couples
  2. What is Group Life Insurance?


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 The information above is for educational use only and does not represent insurance, tax or legal advice. It is not a recommendation or solicitation to buy insurance. Please talk to your licensed insurance agent for more information about life insurance and your needs. Please consult with the appropriate professional for tax or legal advice. Guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Article Author: Meredith Bell
Author Bio: Meredith joined Everly in 2022 and has 20+ years of experience in the life insurance industry. She has held various roles in advertising, marketing, communications, sales and distribution support, and product development. Outside of the office, Meredith lives with her daughter Kennedy and their dog Mavis. Meredith enjoys cooking, camping, gardening, hiking, and bourbon (though not always at the same time). She is a live music enthusiast and an avid reader. Her favorite quote is by Thomas Jefferson: "I cannot live without books." Meredith agrees, but would add cheese, movies, and dogs to that list.

Policies are issued by Everly Life Insurance Company (“Everly Life”), Topeka, KS. Everly Life is not licensed in the state of New York and does not solicit or transact business in New York.

A.M. Best's 15 ratings are a measure of claims-paying ability and range from A++ (Superior) to F (in Liquidation). Ratings are current as of January 25, 2024 and subject to change at any time. While ratings can be objective indicators of an insurance company's financial strength and can provide a relative measure to help select among insurance companies, they are not guarantees of the future financial strength and/or claims-paying ability of a company and do not apply to any underlying variable portfolios. The insurance agency from which a policy is purchased, and any affiliates of those entities, make no representations regarding the quality of the analysis conducted by the rating agencies. The rating agencies are not affiliated with the above-mentioned entities, nor are these entities involved in any rating agency's analysis of the insurance companies.

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