Life insurance can be an expensive undertaking, but as most know, it’s even more expensive for those with high-risk habits such as smoking or chewing tobacco, as well as the use of nicotine patches—yes, the patch counts!
Different life insurance agencies have different standards for what they will insure and for what price they will insure a smoker at, so the below questions and answers should be viewed only as a general guideline. To obtain the most accurate information, be sure to quiz your potential insurer, or consult with an insurance specialist.
As always, honesty is always the best policy when handling life insurance quotes.
Q: What happens if I lie on my life insurance application about being a smoker?
A: You will be guilty of committing insurance fraud, though you won’t be thrown in jail for such an offense. You will, however, have your application cancelled and if this particular agency was offering the best rates, you’re out of luck.
If you’re not caught until later, say if you die of a smoking-related illness, your policy can be rescinded, with no pay out. This will usually be the case if you’re still within the contestation period; however, in some cases, death benefits will still be paid in the form of a refund on premiums paid, minus the amount that the policy holder should have been paying as a smoker.
Q: What classifies me as a smoker?
A: Usually, this is determined from your use of tobacco products over the previous 12-month period. If you’ve used cigars, chewing tobacco, cigarettes, or have worn a nicotine patch, you’re considered a smoker. For some agencies, this will stand even if you only have the occasional cigar.
Q: I’m trying to quit smoking; can I change over to a non-smoker policy later?
A: Yes! You can be reclassified as a non-smoker down the road, once you’ve been tobacco-free (patches too!) for a consecutive 12-month period (some agencies require longer, so be sure to ask).
Q: If I start smoking again down the road, how is my policy affected?
A: This depends upon the agency you have a policy with and what their regulations dictate. In most cases, if you are tobacco-free for the 12-months prior to applying, during the application process, and for the two-year contestation period after acceptance, you won’t face any consequences, if everything is properly documented. Some agencies, however, do have a contingency for such an instance and will put into the fine print of their policy a clause dictating that you must contact them and switch to a smoker policy.