There’s no secret about it. Smoking is bad for your health. Life insurance companies are not interested in politics or trends, they only care about the numbers and the numbers are clear. Smoking shortens lives on average. Smoking opens you up to a host of serious health problems not the least of which are various cancers and cardiac problems.
The best thing you can do to lower your life insurance rates if your a smoker is to stop smoking. Unfortunately tobacco is also extremely addicting and quitting isn’t always a possibility, so you need to look for your next best options to get a policy as a smoker.
Apply for A Standard Policy Before Looking for Substandard or No Health Exam Policies
Life insurance companies assume that most people are acting rationally in their search for coverage (though not everyone knows enough about life insurance to do that). Assuming that, they know that people who are looking for no health exam policies probably can’t pass one, so only the people who are at the very worst risk of dying are buying this type of policy. This makes it more expensive for people.
The best you can do for yourself is to go through the normal underwriting process with the intent of getting a standard smoker rating. If you are reasonably healthy aside from the fact that you smoke, chances are good that you will be issued a standard smoker rating. While way more expensive than a nonsmoker rating, it is still considerably cheaper than any type of substandard policy.
This means that the best thing you can do if your a smoker is to make yourself as reasonably healthy as you can. There are a lot of ways you can do this.
Get a Physical at Least A Month Before Your Health Exam
During a health exam, life insurance companies are looking at “macro” indicators of health such as your blood pressure, your reflexes, and your cholesterol levels. If you haven’t been to the Dr.’s office in a while, you want to find out about any conditions that can be easily alleviated through medication or diet before you take your health exam. If you wait for the life insurance company to find it, you’ll probably pay more for your policy.
Life insurance companies do sometimes allow you to apply for a better rating after a policy is issued, but usually there is a waiting period before you can apply and it’s much tougher after the fact to get your rating increased.
Take Your Medication
If your doctor has prescribed you any medication, especially blood pressure or cholesterol medicine, make sure you take it consistently for at least a month leading up to your health exam. Life insurance companies want to know that any condition you do have, even if its caused by smoking, is reasonably under control. The best way to do that is to make sure you are doing everything in your power to control it which usually means you need to take all of your prescriptions exactly as your Dr. wants you to.
Go on a Diet
Crash diet’s aren’t usually recommended by health professionals and we don’t recommend anything extreme here. That being said, if you have a few extra pounds that you can easily lose before your health exam you should. In other words, eat very healthy leading up to your exam. This will help lower your blood pressure, sometimes it lowers your cholesterol, and it helps your height to weight ratio and waistline. These are all markers of health that life insurance companies look at and if you have the ability to improve in this department (and most of us do), you should.
Never Lie To the Insurance Company
You may think that the company will never find out if you smoke and a lot of people are tempted to lie about it. You should resist this urge at all costs. Life insurance companies will often look at your medical records when you die and if anything suspicious leads them to believe that you lied during underwriting they will get investigators to dig deeper. If they found out that you lied to them before they sold you the policy, your heirs may not receive any or all of the face amount of the policy due to them. This is the ultimate cost, your insurance is worthless. Tell the truth even if it isn’t favorable to you.
Apply to Multiple Companies
Life insurance companies don’t typically like if you are applying to multiple companies at the same time, so you will want to check with your agent about the best way to go about submitting multiple applications. At Life Ant we suggest that if you don’t get a favorable rating from the first company, and you think your application is likely borderline with a better rating, apply to another company to see if they put you in a higher class (lower risk class).
Not all companies have the exact same underwriting process and ultimately borderline applications are left to individual underwriters’ discretion, so even within the same company, not all underwriters will view the same application in the same way. If you think you deserve a better rating, it doesn’t hurt to try again.
Moderate Your Usage
Life insurance companies will ask you questions such as which tobacco products you use, how frequently you use them, and how long you have been using them. The younger you are when you moderate your usage the better off you. Quitting smoking before you turn age 40 lowers your risk factors by as much as 90%! If you smoke a pack a day, try to cut down to 5 or 10 cigarettes a day. The less often you use tobacco the better off you are.
Apply for Reconsideration After you Quit
Most companies have a process in place to remove your smoker rating if you stop smoking! Usually you need to be smoke-free for 2 years before you can apply. If you have an existing policy with a smoker rating, or if you are about to accept a smoker rating, that is OK for you. Quit smoking and apply for reconsideration, and you may end up with a rate as if you never smoked!
As a Last Resort, Apply for a No Underwriting Policy
If you went through the normal application and underwriting process at an insurance company and you are not offered coverage, or if your premiums are excessive with a substandard rating, it may be time to explore your options for no health exam or no underwriting policies.
Usually these will be the most expensive policies available, but they can sometimes be less expensive than the very worst ratings at another company. If you can’t get a standard smoker rating, explore your options.
Unfortunately, there is no great way to get cheap life insurance if you’re a smoker, you will pay more because the science is clear that smoking increases your risk of dying. If you take steps to improve other factors in your control though, you still have a good chance at getting a very reasonable and affordable policy a standard or preferred smoker rating.
Don’t forget to compare quotes here at Life Ant.