According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 440,000 Americans die due to tobacco use every year. More than eight million more are currently living with a serious health condition caused by tobacco use. Unfortunately, 46.6 million continue to smoke, and another 88 million nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke thanks to living with smokers.
Decreased Life Expectancy for Smokers
These statistics outline a stark reality: that life expectancy can be cut short for those who choose to smoke. The gap between smokers and nonsmokers can be as much as 10 years. That decreased life expectancy can come with extreme financial costs in the form of increased medical bills, lost productivity and increased health and life insurance premiums. In fact, life insurance premiums for smokers can be 50 to 65 percent more than rates for nonsmokers.
Avoiding Increased Premiums as a Smoker
Many insurance companies request medical exams, which require blood, urine and other laboratory tests that will identify trace amounts of nicotine and identify smokers. If an individual is identified as a smoker after death, his or her family’s policy may be rescinded, which means the claim might be refused.
All forms of tobacco use are considered to increase risk, including pipe smoking, cigar smoking, cigarette smoking and even the use of nicotine gum and lozenges. The best way to reduce risk and achieve a lower rate is to quit smoking altogether. Most insurance companies require applicants to be tobacco free between six months and five years in order to qualify for nonsmoking rates.
Many insurance companies only offer nonsmoking rates to applicants who have never smoked. However, smokers who are in otherwise good health may still be able to achieve good life insurance rates if they are able to maintain healthy weights, healthy cholesterol readings and have a history of good overall health. So-called preferred smokers may be offered rates 25 percent lower than standard smokers.