Can Smokers Get Life Insurance?

Posted on May 30, 2021

Using tobacco in any form - smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or using e-cigarettes - can make the cost of life insurance much higher than if you were tobacco-free. In some cases, smokers can pay up to two or three times more for life insurance than non-smokers pay.

However, although life insurance is more expensive if you’re a smoker, it’s not impossible to find a policy that will offer you life insurance. And, depending on the circumstances surrounding your application, you may be able to find life insurance at a better rate than other smokers.

How Smoking Impacts Your Life Insurance Rates

When you apply for life insurance coverage, the insurance company conducts a full medical evaluation to offer you the right type of life insurance at the right rate. During this process, called underwriting, your insurance company will learn that you are a smoker.

Because you use tobacco, you are considered to be more at risk to develop other conditions that can complicate your health and may lead to an earlier death. This makes you a greater risk for the life insurance company to cover, and causes you to pay more for the same amount of coverage as non-smokers.

For the purposes of life insurance, you are considered a smoker if you use any nicotine products. 

This means that, even if you exclusively use chewing tobacco, you are still considered a “smoker” when your life insurance rates are calculated. Because of this, it’s important to be honest with your life insurance company about your smoking or nicotine use habits, as lying about tobacco use can mean that the insurance company withholds your death benefits from your beneficiaries upon your death.
Smoking and tobacco use can mean that you are at risk for developing a whole host of conditions that can cause your health to deteriorate and make you riskier to insure. As a result, life insurance for smokers can cost up to two or three times what a similar policy costs a non-smoker.

Other Factors That Change the Cost of Life Insurance for Smokers

Your use of tobacco can greatly impact your health in other ways that are meaningful to a life insurance company. Because of this, your life insurance company is likely to look at several other factors when determining how much you will pay for your life insurance policy as a smoker.

Some of these factors include:

Overall Health

While you can be a smoker and still be in perfect health, the fact is that smoking can make you more likely to develop other conditions that can decrease your overall life expectancy.

Some of these conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Tuberculosis
  • Certain eye diseases
  • Immune problems

The older you are, and the longer you’ve been smoking, the more likely you are to develop these additional health problems.

When you apply for life insurance coverage, the life insurance company will check your medical records for indication that you have another smoking-related disease, and they will scrutinize your pre-qualifying medical screening.

If you are shown to be in perfect health even as a smoker, your premiums may be lower than those of someone who has another smoking-related condition. However, your premiums will not be as low as someone else with a similar health profile to you but who is not a smoker.

Other Lifestyle Choices

Smoking does have a big impact on your overall health, but the other lifestyle choices you make can also influence how much you pay for life insurance.
If you are considered overweight or obese and aren’t taking steps to get your health in check, it can cause your life insurance premiums to be higher. Not eating a well-balanced diet and not exercising regularly shows your life insurance company that you’re not taking your health seriously and may be more likely to develop conditions that can shorten your lifespan.

Does Quitting Smoking Change How Much I Pay for Life Insurance?

If you are currently a smoker and are considering quitting to decrease your life insurance premiums, doing so can bring the cost down. However, there are some things you need to know before you go cold turkey.

When it comes to decreasing your life insurance premiums, when you quit smoking has the greatest impact on your prices.

To qualify for nonsmoker premiums on life insurance, you have to have completely quit using tobacco for at least one year prior to applying for life insurance. Better rates, such as Preferred or Preferred Plus rates means you have to have quit smoking two to five years prior to applying.

It’s always a good idea to quit smoking, but if you’re holding off purchasing life insurance until you’ve quit and can qualify for the lower rates, it isn’t the best idea.

Holding off on purchasing a policy until you can get a lower rate just puts your family at risk in the meantime and, depending on your current age, those few years of waiting could cause an increase in your premiums that will offset any reduction you’ll get for quitting smoking.

The best thing to do is apply for life insurance now, even if you haven’t yet quit smoking. Once you’ve quit successfully for at least a year, you can request a rate reconsideration to see if you qualify for the lower premiums.

Is Life Insurance for Smokers Worth the Cost?

It’s true that life insurance for smokers is more expensive than life insurance for nonsmokers. For some people, that means they think that purchasing life insurance isn’t worth the cost.

However, it’s always a good idea to purchase life insurance to protect your family. And, as a smoker, you are more likely to develop a condition that could lead to an earlier death, making it more important for you to purchase a life insurance policy.

How Can I Reduce My Life Insurance Cost As a Smoker?

Because you will pay more for life insurance as a smoker, many individuals wonder how to maximize any cost reductions they can get when purchasing a policy.
Here are some important things you can do to find the best life insurance policy for smokers:

Quit Smoking

This is possibly the best thing you can do for your life insurance costs - and your overall health.

After you’ve been a nonsmoker for at least a year, you can qualify for premiums similar to those of someone who has never smoked. And, if you maintain your non smoking habit for up to five years, you may even qualify for Preferred or Preferred Plus rates, the most affordable rates available.

If you continue to smoke, you can expect your life insurance premiums to be two or three times higher than if you were to quit smoking.

Term vs. Whole

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The type of policy you purchase can also make a big difference in terms of how much you pay for life insurance.

A term life insurance policy is typically the most affordable option for many people, as it’s only in effect for a period of years and doesn’t hold any cash value. And, if you’re looking to purchase life insurance now while you work toward quitting smoking, a term life insurance policy can be canceled once you qualify for more affordable premiums on a whole life policy.

If you’re purchasing insurance to make sure that your spouse can pay off the mortgage on your home or to provide your children with money for college, a term life policy is your most affordable option.

A whole life insurance policy is going to cost more overall, but it does have the added benefits of remaining in effect for your whole life and builds value over time. Adjusting how much coverage you purchase can help you offset any cost increases that come with purchasing a whole life policy.

This is the best option if you’re concerned with being able to provide your spouse with financial security later in life or if you’re purchasing life insurance to leave an inheritance for your family.

Amount of Coverage

Because you’re going to pay higher premiums overall as a smoker, carefully choosing how much coverage you purchase is one of the best ways to control how much you spend on life insurance.

The amount of coverage you purchase is going to be determined by a number of individual factors, including:

  • Your financial obligations, such as child support
  • Your salary
  • The ages of your children
  • Whether you have a mortgage or other debt that will need to be paid

Purchasing a lower amount of life insurance coverage can help you pay less in premiums while still providing your family with some financial security in the event of your death.


As a smoker, finding lower-cost life insurance can be a major challenge. But it’s not impossible. Taking the time to carefully determine what type of insurance you want to purchase, how much coverage you need, and to match with the right life insurance company can make all the difference.

With Insurdinary, you get all the tools you need to make the right life insurance policy selection to meet your needs, without ever leaving your couch. Compare plans, get a personalized quote, and apply for life insurance in minutes. Get your quote today!

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