How to Handle Life Insurance if You Smoke
People who smoke should know that smoking isn’t just hazardous to your health – it is also hazardous to your wallet. Smokers are practically guaranteed to be charged higher life insurance premiums than non-smokers for the simple reason that the mortality rate for smokers is higher than it is for non-smokers. If you’re more likely to die early, life insurance companies want to make sure they can get as much money out of you as possible, as soon as possible.
Even if you no longer smoke, your past will have an effect on your current insurance rates. Insurance companies usually will take the fact that you have stopped smoking into consideration when calculating the premium, but the rates will still be higher than for someone who has never smoked. Insurance companies tend to classify former smokers into three different categories: preferred plus, preferred and standard.
Preferred plus policyholders are people who stopped smoking five or more years ago. Preferred policyholders are people who stopped smoking three to five years ago. Standard policyholders are people who stopped smoking 12 months to three years ago. Preferred plus policyholders will be charged a lower premium than preferred policyholders, and preferred policyholders will be charged a lower premium than standard policyholders. The reasoning behind these categories is that the longer someone stays away from smoking, the less likely they are to die of a smoke-related disease, the more likely their body will have healed from the smoking-inflicted damage, and the less likely they are to resume smoking again. If you purchase an insurance policy as a smoker but later on you decide to quit smoking, make sure to inform your insurance company of these changes. Once you start qualifying for former smoker rates, you’ll be able to start saving money.
Some people may be tempted to lie to their insurance companies about their smoking status. This is not a good idea; insurance companies require potential policyholders to undergo thorough medical exams before they agree to provide insurance. A good doctor can easily figure out if you’re lying about your smoking status, whether it be past or present. For example, if you currently smoke, your urine will contain traces of nicotine. Your lie will be easily revealed once the insurance company receives the results of your urine test.
Another thing you should never do is entirely forgo life insurance because you smoke. Sure, your policy will be more expensive, but that’s not a good reason to chuck life insurance out the window. By smoking, you are doing something that, whether you like it or not, increases your chance of dying. When you look at it from this perspective, a smoker needs life insurance more than the average non-smoker does. The best thing you could possibly do for your loved ones would be to stop smoking, but if you can’t manage that, at the very least make sure to get life insurance.