Ultimate Guide to Tobacco Life Insurance

yeah, yeah, YEAH, enough already!

You’ve heard about the dangers of using tobacco products and are sick of it.

We are NOT here to give you warnings or try to change your mind. It’s legal. You are an adult. It’s your choice.

What we are here to do: Everything in our power to make sure you get the cheapest rates for life insurance.

The only references made to health concerns will be to help you understand the insurance companies views. Then you can act accordingly in your own best interest. Once you have this knowledge and a trusted independent agent on your side, you’ll be UNSTOPPABLE.

Understand that all tobacco use is NOT the same.

#1 Most Important Thing To Do as Tobacco User

Apply with the right insurance company. Don’t just settle for someone saying that you are automatically going to receive tobacco rates.

We have worked with countless clients and guided them to Preferred rates for smokers. In the case of other forms of tobacco usage, we have even been able to achieve higher non-smoker rates.

Yes, non-smoker/non-tobacco rates are possible in some situations. You just have to know what to do and where to apply.

To be clear, if you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you won’t do better than the Standard Tobacco rate class. In this case, we will want to consider all other factors in your health and lifestyle to place you with the best company.

Don’t like reading and want to skip all this? Contact our office and we can answer questions and walk you through everything. We don’t pressure anyone, ever. Plus it’s FREE.

Nicotine patches and gum could pose problems

But I recently quit smoking? 

Yes, the majority of people using nicotine patches and gum have quit smoking. However, most insurers will want to know that you’ve quit smoking at least 12 months ago. If you really did quit that long ago, would you still be on the patch? If so, that could signal a nicotine addiction that is especially hard to shake.

Let’s face it, many people have trouble quitting and go back to smoking multiple times. If you are still using patches and gum, you are really “in the process” of quitting. It’s not a done deal yet. The insurance companies know the stats on how hard it is to quit.

Expect to be rated Standard Tobacco or possibly Preferred Tobacco if you apply with the right company and are in good health otherwise.

LightbulbOur Advice: If you truly feel you have quit, get a 1 year Annually Renewable Term policy. It will be pretty cheap since the odds of you dying in the next year are low. It will, however, go up year after year. This is NOT a good long term strategy.

If you aren’t so sure the quitting will stick, get coverage now at the higher rate and apply for reconsideration once it’s been 12+ months of no smoking. Your premiums could drop significantly at that time.

Go ahead and have that celebratory cigar

Life insurance companies, in general, are much more lenient on cigars vs cigarettes. However, you still need to make sure you are playing this correctly.

If you enjoy a nice cigar a couple times a year on special occasions, you have nothing to worry about. Your health rating and corresponding premium will be determined based on everything else (health, age, sex, family history, etc).

Insurance companies will be looking at both the frequency and lab results from the medical exam.


This will vary from carrier to carrier. There are quite a few that will allow up to 1 cigar per month and still give you “non tobacco” rates. If you smoke more frequently, your options will be limited but there are still some excellent choices available with competitive rates.

Some companies will even allow as high as 52 cigars per year. If you like to indulge more than once per week, sorry, you are going to be classified as a smoker and pay the higher tobacco rates. In this case, we will want to aggressively shop you to the best companies for smokers.

Lab results:

The medical exam will test for the presence of nicotine or rather the byproduct, cotinine. Some companies will allow for a little nicotine in the results, others will not.

LightbulbOur Advice: Try to hold off on the cigars leading up to the exam but don’t lie about your usage. If you truly only have a few per year, don’t make one of those be the weekend before a Monday morning exam. Your level of nicotine on the test will be unusually high and raise some suspicions.

Always make sure you are applying with the right company. For a more detailed look, including some lenient companies to consider, see our article on life insurance for cigar smokers.

Don’t give up all hope if you are a regular cigarette smoker

Yes, it’s true you are going to pay more. The insurer needs to charge for the increased risk they are taking on. Since smoking is proven to lead to earlier deaths, they have to charge more. No way around that.

You still know you need life insurance. There are ways to save money on life insurance that does not involve your health. Check it out.

LightbulbOur Advice: Focus on the other areas of your health and lifestyle. Get in front of the insurer that views your total picture the best. There is more to your premium payment (and you) than just being a cigarette smoker.

The goal when possible is to get you approved at Preferred Tobacco rates. This will save you 25% to 40%.

For a closer look at getting the best rates as someone who smokes cigarettes, read our article. Drop us a line with any questions.

Let’s talk dip and snuff

The bad news: Since it’s proven to lead to some serious health concerns, most companies will push you down into the same rate class as cigarette smokers.

The good news: I did only say “most” companies, right? There are a few good ones that will give non-tobacco rates. This will save you a TON.

It’s common for some people to both chew tobacco and smoke cigarettes. If this is the case, you’ll need to focus on insurers that are the most lenient towards cigarettes because this will ALWAYS take precedence.

Maybe you used to smoke cigarettes but have quit? 12 or more months need to have passed before you can start to have good options. Then we can focus only on the dip.

While you need to be honest on the application, it certainly can’t hurt if you can test negative for the presence of nicotine on your exam. This will open up your options a bit with a few different companies.

LightbulbOur Advice: If you can, put the tin down for 2 weeks before the exam. It can only help your results and can never hurt them. I do understand this might not be possible depending on your habit. There is 1 company we know that will not care if you test positive for nicotine. Assuming all other health factors are good, you can get as high as Standard Plus health class.

To find out who this company is, see this article on life insurance if you chew and dip.

Can we invite Mary Jane? How marijuana factors in.

Ok, so marijuana is not tobacco. But many insurance companies do lump them in together so we need to discuss it here.

Relax. If you do smoke (or eat) weed the insurance carriers DO NOT CARE whether it’s illegal where you live. They also can’t share information about your habit with any authorities. You are protected by HIPPA laws and NO carrier is going to risk their business by breaking those.

The goal here is simple, get non-tobacco rates. The good news is the industry is changing and gradually becoming more accepting of marijuana just like society. You do still need to be careful though. Make sure you are applying with the right company.

Whether you smoke it or eat it, not a huge deal to most insurers.

But I have a prescription for medicinal marijuana. 

Why do you have that prescription? What is it treating? That will be important as they will need to assess the underlying medical condition.

Frequency and recency are going to play big roles in determining your health class with each insurer. How often do you smoke pot? and when was the last time you smoked? Results from the medical exam will also play a factor although some insurance companies allow a positive test and still give you non-tobacco rates.

The great news is that it’s actually possible to smoke a few times per week, test positive for THC and still get Preferred Plus rates. That is the top health class. Of course, the rest of your health and lifestyle will still be considered but the fact that you won’t get dinged just for marijuana is amazing. This shows how far things have come.

LightbulbOur Advice: Read our marijuana guide to life insurance. I know of nothing on the Internet more extensive on this topic. Or just skip it and get in touch with us so we can help you. We know this topic extremely well.

The e-cigarette revolution

Many of you are turning to e-cigarettes as a way to quit regular cigarettes.

The bad news: If you made this change recently, you will still get tobacco smoker rates. You need to have quit the tobacco cigarettes AT LEAST 12 months ago, longer for many insurers.

The good news: There are some insurance companies that recognize e-cigarette use as less risky than tobacco cigarettes. If you apply in the right place, and follow a few guidelines, you can easily get non-tobacco rates. Play your cards right, it’s even possible to get in the Standard Plus health class and that will you some serious $$.

The FDA recently decided to bring regulation of e-cigarettes closer to how they handle tobacco. Time will tell what this means for premiums.

LightbulbOur Advice: If you just quit, look at getting a 1 year Annually Renewable Term (ART) policy. The premiums will be low since you are unlikely to die in 1 short year. After 12 months have passed, consult with an independent broker to place you with the best company at that time based on the current underwriting guidelines.

Want more detail? Cruise over to our essay on life insurance for e-cigarette smokers.

Don’t be like Pinocchio – Lying about your tobacco usage.

When you realize how much money you can save by getting into the next health class, it may be tempting to bend the truth a bit on your application.

You quit smoking 6 months ago, but WOW, look at how much lower a rate you get if you just say it was 13 months ago. Nobody will ever know, right?

To be honest, it might work. In this case, you are getting away with only insurance fraud so hopefully, you’re ok with that.

Life insurance is a 700 BILLION dollar industry. Lots of resources go into making the machine work. This includes far-reaching investigative abilities to find out the truth about the information on applications. I don’t mean to scare you. There won’t be men in black suits following you around or people digging through your trash. There WILL BE cross-referencing of all medical records as well as checks into previous insurance applications with the MIB.

Aside from the fraud, your policy can be canceled later on if the information turns up that you misrepresented yourself on the application.

If the fraud and the cancellation aren’t bad enough, in some cases the death benefit claim could even be DENIED if they find out you lied.

How horrible would that be? Your family is mourning your loss and they get the news that the protection you put in place won’t be coming.

LightbulbOur Advice: Don’t do it. Use the information in this guide to get the lowest rate you can based on the truth. Ask for a reconsideration for a lower rate when you have actually earned it. If they deny your request, there will be another company happy to take the business. With term insurance, you are never locked in and can cancel when you want.

Wrapping It Up

Don’t just settle for tobacco rates unless you hear it from someone with real knowledge and experience in the industry.

Even then, aim for Preferred Tobacco rates as you can save 25% to 40% over Standard Tobacco.

To be clear: Not everyone can qualify for the higher rate classes. Lots of things go into determining your health rating and tobacco usage is only one of many.

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.

Tobacco users are going to pay higher rates than people that don’t touch any of it, that is just the reality. This doesn’t mean you have to throw money away because you went to the wrong insurance company.

Let us protect you from overpaying and being unfairly treated. Life insurance is all we offer (and hugs) so our only focus is saving our clients money.

Working with an independent life insurance broker is always free. Rates are fixed by law so going direct to the insurer won’t save any money, you just won’t have anyone on your side.


  • Ty Stewart

    Ty Stewart is a founder and contributor of SimpleLifeInsure.com. He started researching and studying about life insurance when he got his first policy for his own family. He has been featured as a life insurance expert speaker at agent conventions and in top publications. As an independent licensed life insurance agent he has helped clients nationwide to secure affordable coverage while making the process simple.

    https://simplelifeinsure.com/ ty@simplelifeinsure.com Stewart Ty
  • Bennett Bier

    I’m Bennett Bier, owner, author and fact checker of Simple Life Insure. I believe working with a small independent broker offers consumers more personal attention and superior customer service. As an independent agent licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia I have access to many of the top A+ rated life insurance carriers. This lets me locate a plan that you will qualify for while saving you money at the same time. Over the years I have mastered the art of underwriting, getting approvals even for my highest risk clients. I’m also likely the person that will answer the phone when you call.

    https://simplelifeinsure.com/ bennett@trustedlifeinsurancequotes.com Bier Bennett