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Life Insurance Basics

Life insurance rates and smokers

Cigarette smoking comes with many health risks but did you know it could cause future risk to your life insurance policy. Learn about what can happen if you begin smoking after your policy is issued.

There are many things that can factor into how much you'll pay for life insurance. And because the health risks of smoking have been well documented, it's difficult to find cheap life insurance for smokers. You may already understand that failure to disclose your tobacco use on your life insurance application constitutes fraud, but what happens if you take up smoking after your life insurance policy issues?

Smoking after policy is issued

The truth is, if you start smoking after your life insurance has been approved and issued, it'll be difficult for your life insurance company to discover your newfound habit in order to increase your rates to match the risk. However, if you were to die during the contestability period (a time where the insurer can investigate information on your application) and the company discovers your tobacco use, your beneficiary's claim may be denied or the death benefit could be adjusted to reflect the amount of premiums that you should have been paying all along as a smoker. That means that your beneficiaries would lose out on the full amount of your policy's benefit.

Another effect smoking can have on your life insurance rates after your policy issues has to do with what type of policy you have. For example, if you have a term life policy and have started smoking, when your term is up and you decide to renew or replace your expired policy, you would likely be required to complete a new application and quite possibly a medical exam. At that point, it'll be difficult to get cheap life insurance because you will no longer qualify for non-smoker rates. However, if you have a permanent policy such as whole or universal life insurance, your rates are locked in for life as long as you continue to pay your premiums. However, smoking will certainly impact your overall health and longevity, so why start now?

The bottom line

Whether you've gone back to smoking after several years or just recently started, the bottom line is that it's difficult to find cheap life insurance for smokers. And if you've already applied for life insurance as a smoker, keep in mind that it is in your power to quit. If you do quit smoking, be sure to request an evaluation from your insurance company. While every insurer is different, most will generally require that you are tobacco/nicotine free for at least two to five years before reducing your premiums down to non-smoking rates. Remember, the sooner you quit the better.



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