Butt Out – Or Not? What Your Insurer Needs to Know if you Smoke

The Top 7 Baseless Excuses for Not Having Life Insurance
February 25, 2012
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Butt Out – Or Not? What Your Insurer Needs to Know if you Smoke

Do you smoke 2 packs a day?  A few on your lunch break?  Only when you’re drinking?

It’s one of the most common questions I hear from clients.

  • Will their insurance provider find out if they smoke?
  • Will their policy become null and void?
  • Can they lie?

Life insurance companies want to know about activities that might impact your longevity.

It’s understandable.  Questions about whether you’ve used nicotine in the past few years are pretty common practice, and not altogether different than those questions that explore whether you skydive in your spare time or you plan to travel to Afghanistan.

So what exactly qualifies you as a nicotine user?

Life insurance companies use different rate classifications to set their pricing. And sometimes, there are separate rates for nicotine users. In fact, research shows that smokers pay nearly twice the premium of nonsmokers, so it’s no surprise that people consider lying on their application!

The definition of a “nicotine user” is someone who uses any form of nicotine delivery (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, a nicotine patch and nicotine gum). How far back the insurance company looks can vary, but some companies will go back up to 5 years!

There are qualifications for ‘occasional’ or ‘celebratory’ users and some companies will give those individuals non-smoker rates.  But in this case, the urine sample you provide for your medical exam must be nicotine-free.

Don’t lie

It’s really not a smart idea to lie on your application if you are a regular smoker.  Especially if it’s likely that nicotine will show up on your test result.

The application that you sign becomes part of your policy and serves as a legal contract between you and the insurance company. Imagine if you were to die unexpectedly (of a heart attack, for instance) and it was disclosed by the doctors that you were a smoker for all of your adult life. The insurance company could reject the claim, and they would be justified.

I can’t imagine that your beneficiaries would be very pleased with that outcome.  Rather pay the extra premium and have peace of mind.

If you are honest on your application and then you don’t like the rate that you are given, you can’t apply to another company and lie.  They have access to your previous results.

Just quit

Perhaps the best strategy of all is to quit smoking altogether in anticipation of your life insurance purchase.  It’s a great way to set a target date – if you quit a few months in advance of your medical exam, there will be no trace of nicotine in your urine.

And best of all, you will be on track for a healthier, longer life.