How Will Tobacco Usage Affect My Life Insurance Premiums?

William Cochran 0
a smoking cigarette with black background

This will depend on the carrier. Carriers also consider the different forms of tobacco, such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, in their own fashion. In any event, tobacco usage will increase your premium; the only question is how much.

Rate classification for tobacco usage will depend on the type of tobacco. For non-tobacco classes, it will depend on the date of the last usage of tobacco. There is a wide range of how life insurance companies treat those who use tobacco. A couple of considerations are the type of tobacco used and, if no longer using tobacco, the last date of usage. A special note for cigar smokers is that some companies will consider you a non-smoker if you smoke cigars only occasionally (less than 10 a year‌ — typically) and test negative for nicotine on your lab tests.

Thus, this is an area that you need to have a representative who has access to a number of carriers and will get you quotes from multiple carriers.

The rate classification table below gives you a sense of how a life insurance company would classify different risks.

Tier 1 (Best Available) Tier 2 Tier 3
Impairments / Personal History No diseases, disorders, or activities that would affect mortality. No diseases, disorders, or activities that would affect mortality. No diseases, disorders, or activities that would affect mortality.
Blood Pressure No current, or history of, blood pressure treatment or medication. Current and past readings cannot exceed: •140/85 (age 60 or younger) • 150/90 (age 61 or older) Currently controlled and average reading in last 2 years (including treatment) does not exceed: • 140/90 (age 60 or younger) • 150/90 (age 61 or younger) Currently controlled and average reading in last 2 years (including treatment) does not exceed: • 150/90 (age 60 or younger) • 155/90 (age 61 or younger)
Family History No cardiovascular or cancer disease (except basal cell carcinoma) in either parent or siblings on or before age 60. No cardiovascular or cancer death in either parent on or before age 60. Not more than one cardiovascular death in or before age 60.
Driving History NO DWI, DUI, reckless driving, license revocation, or suspension in the past 5 years. NO DWI, DUI, reckless driving, license revocation, or suspension in the past 5 years. NO DWI, DUI, reckless driving, license revocation, or suspension in the past 3 years.
Nicotine No use of nicotine or nicotine substitutes in the past 5 years (occasional cigar use may be okay if minimal, and current nicotine test is negative). No use of nicotine or nicotine substitutes in the past 3 years (occasional cigar use may be okay if minimal, and current nicotine test is negative). No use of nicotine or nicotine substitutes in the past 2 years (occasional cigar use may be okay if minimal, and current nicotine test is negative).
Cholesterol 240 mg/dl (treated or untreated - maximum reading) 270 mg/dl (treated or untreated - maximum reading) 285 mg/dl (treated or untreated - maximum reading)
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio 5.0 (maximum) 6.0 (maximum) 7.0 (maximum)
Alcohol or Substance Abuse No history or treatment for alcohol or substance abuse ever. No history or treatment for alcohol or substance abuse in the past 10 years. No history or treatment for alcohol or substance abuse in the past 7 years.
Hazardous Occupation or Avocation May require flat extra premium May require flat extra premium May require flat extra premium

If a carrier finds out, at any time, that an insured individual misrepresented information regarding tobacco usage, they will rescind the policy as a material misrepresentation. In other words, they will cancel the policy, thus defeating the entire purpose of obtaining coverage. Some carriers will pay the death benefit based on the amount of coverage that the premiums paid would have purchased on a smoker basis; however, the majority do not, as this is not fair to the truthful applicant.

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