If you have a history of using tobacco products your life insurance rates will most likely be higher than if you didn’t. Everything you’ve ever been taught about smoking being bad for you is true. Statistics from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) blame 443,000 U.S. deaths a year on smoking and tobacco related illnesses. Since 1980, there have been an estimated 14 million premature deaths from smoking related causes. Life insurance companies are well aware of these statistics and others like them. Tobacco use adversely affects your life insurance rates quite simply because smokers have a shorter life-expectancy than non-smokers. Since a life insurance company is taking an increased risk by insuring a smoker, that will be reflected in that person being given a lower rate class, with a higher premium.
A smoker’s rate classification is based on how long it has been since they last smoked. You will get a better rate class by quitting smoking and the use of any other forms of tobacco. Mortality risks decline if you quit and continue to do so the longer you stay from tobacco. If it has been five years or more since you have used tobacco, you could qualify for Preferred Plus, the best rate class available. If it has been between 3-5 years since you have used tobacco, you could qualify for the Preferred rate class. If you are tobacco free for at least one year, you could qualify for the Standard rate class. The amount of tobacco that you typically consume may also affect your rate class. In general, people who are moderate users of tobacco will be charged less than those that are considered heavy users.
Some life insurance companies might differentiate between different types of tobacco as they consider the tobacco use of the person applying for the policy. For instance, one life insurance company may give better rates to someone that smokes cigars once a week than they would to someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. If you quit smoking after having been issued a life insurance policy, ask your provider to re-evaluate the status of your policy each year. You might be able to get your rates lowered as your time away from tobacco use increases. A good life insurance agent should be able to steer you toward a life insurance company that will offer the best rates for your situation.