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Term Life Insurance for Smokers

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Ron Attias, a licensed insurance broker. He had no particular loyalty to any one insurance company, so he was able to shop all major insurance carriers. This means that you always get the BEST plan at the LOWEST price. Each plan can be customized to fit your specific healthcare...

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UPDATED: Jul 9, 2019

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Life insurance for smokers is expensive; no need to beat around the bush or sugar-coat it. Smokers will pay 2–3 times as much as non-smoker depending on the age at which they buy the policy provided they have the same health risk. Also, smokers will not qualify for the best health class, known as the preferred plus.

If you are a smoker who seeks life insurance and are in perfect health, the best class you can get is preferred tobacco. In this post on life insurance for smokers, I will share a few ideas that will save you money if you are a smoker.

Related: Life insurance with pre-existing conditions.

Why Are Premiums Higher for Smokers?

We all know someone who smokes 5 packs a day and is healthier than his marathoner twin brother. But this is the exception, not the norm. According to medical news today, every year, more than 480,000 people die in the United States (U.S.) due to tobacco-related diseases. That is around 1 in 5 of all deaths in the U.S. annually.

It is estimated that 1 in 2 smokers will die from a smoking-related disease. The underwriter’s job is to protect the insurer from taking unnecessary risks, and, since the life insurance company pays a death benefit if someone dies, the underwriter will increase your premium if you are a high risk for mortality. Any time an individual poses a risk to the carrier, he/she will pay more or get declined; it’s that simple.

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How Long Do I Need to Be Smoke-Free to Be Considered a Non-smoker?

I get this question all the time when talking to smokers. What if I quit today—can I get the non-smoker rates?

Absolutely not. With most companies, you must be a non-smoker for at least 3-5 years before you can get the best preferred plus rate. However, most carriers will give you a standard non-smoker rate if you are a non-smoker for 1 year.

Should I Keep My Smoking a Secret?

NO! That is the last thing you should be thinking. A lot of people think that they can trick the system by simply lying about their smoking habit and keeping it a secret from their insurance providers. However, if someone lies about smoking and then dies or develops a chronic illness (depending on their plan), regardless of whether it was smoking-related or not, medical records, autopsy reports, etc., would quickly indicate that they were a smoker, which would almost certainly result in the insurance company not paying out.

Being untruthful on a life insurance application is also considered insurance fraud, which is unlawful. By lying about your smoking habits, you would put your family at financial risk, which could defeat the purpose of taking out your policy in the first place. The companies will always find out the truth, so make sure you are open and honest about everything.

You can read more about what life insurance companies for test for in my other article.

How Insurance Companies Define “Smoker”

When you apply for a life insurance policy, your cigarette smoking isn’t the only type of tobacco use the insurer considers. It is necessary to recognize that individuals who use other products containing tobacco can also be considered smokers and, therefore, be charged more for life insurance.

Some carriers classify you as a smoker if you use…

  • Cigars
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Marijuana s
  • Nicotine gums
  • Chewing tobacco

An insurance company may charge the same price for a person who is a recreational smoker or an individual who smokes a pack a day. The insurer bases their rates on two factors: which tobacco products you use and how long you have used them. The carrier usually classifies a person as a smoker if they have smoked or used a tobacco product in the last 12 months. Some go back as far as 5 years.

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Should I Buy a Policy without a Medical Exam?

Some smokers elect to get their policies from a carrier that does not require a medical exam. It is crucial to recognize that a no-exam policy is more expensive than one that does need an exam. If you decide on coverage that doesn’t require a medical exam, it is best to reveal your tobacco use.

Otherwise, your life insurance company might deny the claim if you pass away from tobacco-related causes. Keep in mind that, if you need more than $500,000 in life insurance, you will need to buy the traditional full exam policy.

It is advisable for those who smoke but are otherwise healthy to take a clinical exam to prove their excellent health. They may be eligible for a preferred smoker’s rate.

10-Year Term Sample Monthly Smokers Rates

10 Year Level Term Male Non-Smoker


10 Year Level Term Male Smoker


10 Year Level Term Female Non-Smoker


10 Year Level Term Female Smoker


20-Year Term Sample Monthly Smokers Rates

20 Year Level Term Male Non-Smoker


20 Year Level Term Male Smoker


20 Year Level Term Female Non-Smoker


20 Year Level Term Female Smoker


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30-Year Term Sample Monthly Smokers Rates

30 Year Level Term Male Non-Smoker


30 Year Level Term Male Smoker


30 Year Level Term Female Non-Smoker


30 Year Level Term Female Smoker


*All rates quoted on this page are for a super-preferred healthy individual. Monthly rates are updated as of Jun 2016 and are subject to underwriting approval.*

Tips to Find the Best Life Insurance for Smokers

  • Shop around. Various companies use different underwriting guidelines to decide your rates. Receiving rates from more than one company is quite important for those who use tobacco products other than cigarettes. Several companies do not categorize people who infrequently use other tobacco products, like cigars or chewing tobacco, as people who smoke, so they may get a non-smokers rate. One company may only offer you lower rates if you have been smoke-free for over 2 years, but another will be okay by just 12 months. Some may even consider if you’re a moderate smoker and charge you a cheaper premium than they would a heavy smoker.
  • Get a policy when you are younger and in excellent health. Life insurance companies will charge you more when you pose a greater risk.
  • If you quit smoking, you could resubmit the application. Inform your insurance company if you quit smoking. They will ask you to take a medical exam to confirm whether there is still nicotine in your body. Most carriers require that you quit smoking or tobacco use for at least 1 year before they will contemplate reducing your premium.

Related: 5 uncommon ways to save money on life insurance. 

Bottom Line

Life insurance for smokers is expensive. Choosing the wrong broker will lead to paying even more. As discussed earlier, some companies will give you the best rate as a non-smoker after 3 years and others after 5 years. Banner Life, for instance, will give you preferred plus if you are 3 years smoke-free while American National or Assurity Life will require 5 years.

The ultimate tip I can give you is to do more research on the broker you plan to hire than on the actual insurance company. You can go ahead and run “life insurance for smokers” quotes on this page.

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