Life insurance for smokers

Life insurance for smokers will always be more expensive than for non-smokers. Depending on your age premiums will be anywhere from double to 4 times that of a non-smoker in the same risk class. That’s because insurance companies have plenty of evidence that smoking is bad for your health and can kill you in a variety of ways. I suppose that isn’t news to anyone, least of all smokers.

All is not lost, however. If you have an incentive to quit smoking, like saving money on your life insurance, you should be able to qualify for much better rates after being nicotine-free for 12 months. At that point, I can help you lower your rates. More on that later.

Types of tobacco & nicotine products that will affect your insurance rates:

  • Cigarettes
  • Vaping & E-cigarettes
  • Dip, Chew, Snuff, Snus
  • Nicotine substitutes, including patches & gum
  • Cigars, although occasional use can be acceptable
  • Marijuana – I know, it’s not tobacco or nicotine

Can casual smokers get better rates than heavy smokers?

Possibly. Most companies have multiple tobacco rate classes when it comes to life insurance for smokers. Examples are Standard Tobacco and Preferred Tobacco. Depending on your overall health and other risk factors, if you only smoke a couple of cigarettes a day, you should qualify for better rates that multi-pack a day chain smoker. Ultimately, your rate class will be based on your smoking history in combination with several other factors pertaining to your health & lifestyle.

Does smokeless tobacco count?

You might be able to qualify for better rates if you only use smokeless tobacco products. That being said, you will be under a tobacco class, nonetheless. If you’re healthy and present no other risk factors, you could qualify for a Preferred Tobacco rate.

What if I like a cigar once in a while?

The occasional celebratory cigar is allowed by many life insurance companies. Those who do will allow anywhere from 1 cigar per month to 1 per week without putting you in a tobacco risk class. Even if you think that smoking a cigar from time to time isn’t a big deal, you should mention it on your insurance application.

What if I recently quit smoking?

If you quit smoking less than 12 months ago you will be under tobacco rates. If it’s been 12 months or more since your last cigarette (or chew, or dip, or patch) you may qualify for standard rates. It’s going to depend on your overall health and other factors of course.

You will have to wait 3 years to be eligible for Preferred rates and 5 years for Preferred Plus with most companies. Others may require 10 years before you’re eligible for the best non-tobacco rates. This is because the health risks associated with smoking can linger for years after you extinguish your last cigarette.​In many cases, my recommendation will be to get coverage now if you plan on quitting, but aren’t quite there yet. Once you’re nicotine-free for at least 12 months we will reevaluate your situation and usually be able to replace your policy with another at non-tobacco rates. That way you will have coverage, albeit at a higher premium, while you’re kicking the habit.If you’ve had coverage in place under a tobacco rate class and quit over a year ago, you may have options to have your premiums lowered. It really depends on the type of policy. Replacing the policy with another at a better rate class is often the simplest solution, but not always. This is something I always evaluate as part of my consultation to make sure we look at your situation from all angles.

Why all the fuss?

Insurance companies consider smokers to be at higher risk of developing life-threatening medical conditions. Like any other risk factors, this is based on medical research and actuarial data.

“Tobacco smoking can lead to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. It increases the risk of heart disease, which can lead to stroke or heart attack. Smoking has also been linked to other cancers, leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia. All of these risks apply to the use of any smoked product, including hookah tobacco. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of cancer, especially mouth cancers.”

National Institute on Drug Abuse


More and more life insurance companies are allowing marijuana use. A few even offer non-tobacco rates if you use marijuana several times a week, either recreationally or medically. If you are prescribed marijuana by your doctor, in any form, insurance companies will need to know the condition(s) being treated.

Are there no-medical exam policies for smokers?

Yes, there are no-medical exam policies that you may have access to as a smoker. Eligibility will depend on other factors related to your health & lifestyle. I can help you determine if you can qualify for a no-medical exam policy during a free consultation. It’s important to look at your overall picture before deciding which type of policy to apply for.

Life insurance for smokers comes with more complex underwriting, so not everyone should go the no-medical route. If you have other health conditions that are exacerbated by smoking, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, then a fully underwritten policy will most likely be my recommendation.

How do I get started?

You can either run your own quotes on this page and any other page on this site. You can also send me an email, at text, or give me a call at 512-922-1273 to start the conversation. During a free consult, I’ll gather information about your health and lifestyle. That allows me to pre-qualify you so that I can look at the right options. That means carriers that will look at your application in the most favorable light. You’re unique level of risk will be considered differently against each insurance company’s underwriting guidelines. You’ll improve your odds of approval by applying with the company who’s the best fit for your unique situation.

My ultimate goal as an independent life insurance broker is to help my clients obtain the right coverage. Not only at the best price available, but with the appropriate insurance company for their situation and level of risk. I will never suggest that you apply for the cheapest option if I believe that for one reason or another you will not qualify for that specific insurance policy.

Life insurance is by no means a one size fits all purchase. Reach out today and let’s discuss your options!

-Danny Gallant, Life Insurance Broker | 512-922-1273