Can quitting smoking lower my life insurance rates?
Yes. If you have life insurance and purchased it while you were a cigarette smoker, you were likely given a Tobacco risk class. Tobacco risk classes have higher rates than non-tobacco. If you quit smoking, you can reapply to see if you can qualify for the non-tobacco risk classes.
If you quit smoking and haven’t yet applied for life insurance, how long you’ve been a non-smoker will determine if you can qualify for non-tobacco rates. We explain this further in the blog. Keep reading for more information about life insurance and smoking.
Thinking about quitting smoking? Now is a great time.
Every year on the third Thursday in November, smokers take part in the Great American Smokeout event. This event challenges people to stop using tobacco. On this date, participants make a plan to quit, or planned in advance and quit on this day.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 32 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. While cigarette smoking rates have dropped (from 42% in 1965 to 13.7% in 2019), cigar, pipe, and hookah – other dangerous and addictive ways to smoke tobacco – are very much on the rise.
Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits at any age. Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Research shows that smokers are most successful in quitting when they have support, such as:
- Telephone smoking-cessation hotlines
- Stop-smoking groups
- Online quit groups
- Nicotine replacement products
- Prescription medicine to lessen cravings
- Guide books
- Encouragement and support from friends and family members
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking
The benefits of quitting smoking are aplenty. You’ll improve your health and longevity, and save money. Consider the table below (these statistics are averages and were taken from WhyQuit.com.)
|The Effects of Quitting Smoking on Your Body: A Timetable|
|Within 20 minutes of quitting…||Your blood pressure, pulse rate and the temperature of your hands and feet have returned to normal.|
|Within 12 hours…||Your blood oxygen level has increased to normal. Carbon monoxide levels have dropped to normal.|
|Within 48 hours…||Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal.|
|Within 72 hours…||Breathing is becoming easier and your lung’s functional abilities are starting to increase.|
|Within 10 days…||Blood circulation in your gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user.|
|Within 2 weeks to 3 months…||Your heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve.|
|Within 3 weeks to 3 months…||Your circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared.|
|Within 1 to 9 months…||Any smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath has decreased. Cilia have regrown in your lungs, thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean and reduce infections. Your body’s overall energy has increased.|
|Within 1 year…||Your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.|
|Within 5 years…||Your risk of a subarachnoid hemorrhage has declined to 59% of your risk while still smoking. If a female ex-smoker, your risk of developing diabetes is now that of a non-smoker.|
|Within 5 to 15 years…||Your risk of stroke has declined to that of a non-smoker.|
|Within 10 years…||Risk of death from lung cancer has declined by almost half if you were an average smoker. Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and pancreas have declined. Risk of developing diabetes for both men and women is now similar to that of a never-smoker.|
|Within 15 years…||Your risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who has never smoked.|
Not only does your body slowly recover from the effects of smoking when you quit, but your wallet will too. If you smoke approximately one pack of cigarettes per day, quitting can save you over $1000 per year on average. If you are curious on how much you could save if you quit, Smokefree.gov has a handy calculator here: How Much Will You Save?
Cigarettes are expensive in more ways than one. They aren’t cheap to purchase and they raise your life insurance costs. As noted in the timetable above, tobacco can cause many health issues and life insurance companies don’t ignore these facts. If you are a cigarette smoker, you’re going to be riskier to insure.
Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits at any age.
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How does smoking affect buying life insurance?
Smoking affects your health. Your health has a direct impact on your life insurance rates.
The figure below from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustrates just how many health issues are associated with cigarette smoking.
Life insurers weigh the risks of taking on an applicant who smokes and these applicants pay accordingly. There are two categories a life insurance applicant will fall into. You will either be assigned a non-tobacco risk class or a tobacco risk-class. Once you are categorized into one of those classes, you’ll be narrowed down even further.
|Life Insurance Risk Classes|
|Preferred Plus||Preferred Tobacco|
For the average 40-year-old male who does not smoke and is in good health (Preferred Plus), a 20-year $500,000 term life insurance policy is about $30 per month. This same policy for a 40-year-old male in good health but does smoke (Preferred Tobacco) is about $130 per month.
Smoking is just a habit – it doesn’t label you forever. If you quit smoking, there are still opportunities for you to qualify for non-tobacco life insurance premiums.
Most insurers require you to be cigarette-free for at least 12 months before being considered for non-smoker rates. These requirements vary between insurance companies, however.
John Smith smoked a pack a day for 10 years and purchased a life insurance plan to protect his family. Five years after purchasing coverage, he decided to quit smoking. He wants to reapply for coverage to see if he can get cheaper premiums.
His current insurer Insurance Company XYZ says he needs to be cigarette-free for at least 60 months to be considered for Preferred Plus, at least 36 months to be considered for Preferred, 24 months to be considered for Standard Plus and 12 months to be considered for Standard. Meanwhile, a different insurer would be willing to consider him for Preferred Plus if he was cigarette-free for only 36 months.
John decides to wait until he is 36 months free of cigarette use and then applies to the other insurance company.
Shopping around for different rates is the best way to save money on life insurance. Not all insurance companies underwrite the same, so it’s worth it to compare rates.
At Quotacy, you can shop across many different life insurance carriers in less than a minute. The image below shows quotes (20-year $250,000 term policy) for an otherwise healthy 35-year-old male who smokes cigarettes daily.
As you can see, costs vary between insurance companies. In addition to your smoking habits, your age, height and weight, family history, and whether you have any health conditions will factor into your cost. Our term quoting tool is easy to use and requires no personal information. Find out for yourself how much life insurance may cost you by running a term quote. You’ll be able to compare rates instantly.
Whether you smoke, used to smoke, or have never touched a cigarette in your life, we can help you obtain life insurance.
Photo credit to: Michael Ocampo
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