“I’ve got a great cigar collection – it’s actually not a collection because that would imply I wasn’t going to smoke every last one of ‘em.” – Comedian Ron White
You might be wondering how does life insurance for cigar smokers compare with life insurance for cigarette smokers in terms of expense?
That’s an important question that we’ll dive into in just a moment, but first, I wanted to share this interesting tidbit with you:
Did you know that according to Consumer Reports, nearly 75% of cigar aficionados are only occasional smokers? Take note, because the frequency of smoking will play a major role in determining how expensive your premiums will be.
If you are one of these self-proclaimed aficionados who enjoys lighting up a Cohiba every now and then to celebrate a special occasion or accomplishment, fear not.
You can still obtain good life insurance coverage without getting raked over the coals.
But before we get into the insurance details, I would be remiss if I did not briefly discuss some of the health risks associated with cigar smoking because it will help clear up how the insurance companies may look at you.
Does Cigar Smoking Carry the Same Health Risks as Cigarette Smoking?
Compared with nonsmokers, cigar smokers are at a significantly increased risk of developing dangerous conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, and various forms of cancer including cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, and lungs.
The overall risk is largely determined by how often one smokes cigars, and whether or not they inhale the smoke.
As you might imagine, occasional smokers who do not inhale may be at lower risk while those who smoke more regularly or do inhale may be at higher risk.
Large cigars may contain an amount of tobacco and nicotine that is equivalent to at least several cigarettes. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, some large, premium cigars may contain as much tobacco as a pack of 20 cigarettes.
Make no mistake about it, even cigar smokers who do not inhale are still at great risk for developing various medical conditions like the ones mentioned above.
How do Life Insurance Companies Classify Cigar Smokers?
If you are just an occasional cigar smoker, then you’re in luck, my friend. Most life insurance companies allow for occasional, celebratory cigars.
This is usually considered to be 1 cigar per month, although some companies are even more relaxed, and allow up to 4 cigars per month.
Under this classification, cigar smokers are usually considered to be “non-tobacco” users.
We have found that ING and AIG have the most lenient guidelines for how many cigars you can smoke and still receive the all-important non-smoker classification while obtaining life insurance as a cigar smoker.
As an example, ING would likely charge a 40-year-old healthy male classified as a “non-tobacco” user just $500 per year for a $500,000 – 20-year term life insurance policy.
Compare that to a “smoker” who would be charged about $1,545 per year for the exact same policy.
Don’t just go running to AIG or ING, though. You must keep in mind that there are other factors involved which will influence your premium as well. Some of these factors include your health history, family health history, age, and sex.
Maybe you don’t smoke cigars 4 times per month? In that case, we will want to explore companies like Banner and Protective who allow for 1 per month and have competitive rates.
If you chew tobacco at all, there are additional considerations that need to be looked at.
Finding the right fit for you is the name of the game. Make sure to work with an independent insurance expert that knows all the different guidelines and can get you the lowest rates.
How to Properly Fill Out Your Life Insurance Application to Guarantee an Accurate Quote
Every application that you fill out may be different. Some applications will give you different options to quantify how many cigars you smoke each year or each month, and others will not.
Some companies may simply ask you how often you’ve used tobacco products within the past 12 months.
However, oftentimes companies who do this will also have another section where you can “explain” your frequency of use.
It’s important to fill in this section honestly with exactly how many cigars you smoke each year.
Don’t Try to Hiding Your Cigar Habit
Most companies will require you to get a medical exam prior to approval of a policy for life insurance as a cigar smoker.
Blood or urine tests will be performed to detect the presence of nicotine in your body. If you are an occasional smoker, it would be a good idea to stash your cigars for at least 1 week prior to your exam.
Doing so will increase your chances of testing negative for nicotine, which can possibly result in a lower premium.
Regardless if you test negative for nicotine, you still must answer truthfully about your tobacco consumption when filling out your applications.
Aside from it being fraud, you don’t want to take the risk that they find out later and cancel your policy. Even worse, death benefit claims CAN be denied if it’s proven you lied on an application.
If You Quit, Resubmit
Even if you are designated with a “smoker’s” rate, you always have the option to quit smoking or reduce your cigar consumption to a level that your insurance company will classify as a “non-tobacco” user.
How long you must remain smoke-free will vary from company to company. Life insurance companies with more lenient policies may allow you to get re-evaluated after just 3 to 6 months of quitting.
Companies that are more stringent may require you to be smoke-free for a year or longer before re-evaluating your current policy for a lower premium. Either way, you will most likely have to get another nicotine test done to make sure it’s no longer detected in your system.
As already mentioned, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by having a premature “celebratory” cigar the night before your blood or urine test.
Always remember that premiums can vary widely between companies.
That’s why it’s SO important that you understand how the different carriers might view your personal situation. Shopping around will result in you getting the best life insurance coverage for your needs at an affordable premium.
Please keep in mind that underwriting guidelines can and DO vary greatly between carriers and this is often a complicated maze for consumers to navigate.
The secret to getting the lowest rate is placing you in a policy with the company who views you in the most favorable light.
The truth is, while the quote engine is a great place to start, if you are applying for life insurance as a cigar smoker, it’s critical that you work with a broker who understands the complicated tobacco guidelines and will fight on your behalf to get the lowest rate for your situation.
We are one of the rare independent brokers that only sells life insurance so we’ve gotten pretty darn good at it.
If you are ready to get started, please fill out a quote request or always feel free to contact us with any questions.
We are here to help and will never pressure you in any way (and our service is FREE).
Fun Fact: At $1,150 per individual cigar, the Gurkha Black Dragon is widely considered to be world’s expensive.