The best life insurance companies for smokers in 2022

Smokers pay at least twice as much for life insurance as non-smokers, but some providers are more flexible than others. Check out our guide to the best companies and rates for smokers and former smokers.

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If you smoke cigarettes, chew tobacco, or use e-cigarettes, life insurance costs two to three times more than it would otherwise, based on Policygenius quoting data. That’s because life insurance companies set your premiums based on medical history and lifestyle risks, and nicotine has known negative health effects.

But not every insurance company weighs the risk of smoking the same way, and some are more flexible about a smoking history or alternative types of tobacco use. Read on to learn how smokers can get the best life insurance by comparing prices and our top picks for the best companies for smokers and former smokers.

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Life insurance rates for smokers

Smokers pay an average of 217% more than nonsmokers for the same policy. For example, a 25-year-old female buying a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy could pay an extra $8,800 over the course of the policy compared to a 25-year-old non-smoker.

20-year term life insurance rates for non-smokers vs. smokers

AgeSexNon-smokerSmoker
25Female$14.25$34.04
Male$17.24$42.45
35Female$16.61$43.86
Male$18.97$53.00
45Female$28.91$88.92
Male$35.63$120.87
55Female$61.28$195.97
Male$85.70$283.74

Methodology: Sample monthly premiums are for male and female non-smokers and smokers with a Preferred health rating for a $250,000, 20-year term life insurance policy; Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica and may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 12/29/2021.

How much you actually pay for life insurance depends on how often you use tobacco, how long you’ve been using it, and whether you have any tobacco-related health issues. Each insurer weighs these factors differently, so get quotes from multiple companies to find the best policy. 

There are also different guidelines for marijuana users and cigar smokers — you may even qualify for non-smoker rates with some companies. 

→ Learn more about how insurance companies set life insurance rates

Life insurance for former smokers

If you want non-smoking rates from a life insurer, you need to permanently quit tobacco. Quitting right before you apply for a policy won’t work either. Insurers want you to be tobacco-free for at least one year before they’ll offer non-smoker rates.

To be eligible for the best rates, you’ll need to be two to five years from your last nicotine use. After five years, if you're otherwise healthy, your life insurance rates won't be impacted by a former smoking habit, which can save you thousands of dollars on life insurance over your lifetime.

The best life insurance companies for smokers

Every insurance company distinguishes between smokers and non-smokers, but some put less emphasis on smoking when determining premiums than others. The use of alternative tobacco products and the length of time since quitting for former smokers are two major differences across the top life insurance companies.

CompanyPolicygenius ratingBest for
Banner

4.7

Overall
Prudential

3.4

Former smokers, Smokeless tobacco, Cigar use
Lincoln Financial

4.7

Former smokers, Smokeless tobacco, Cigar use

4.7

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Banner logo

Best overall

Long term lengths and competitive rates make Banner a top contender for smokers and people with complicated health issues.

Pros

  • Very competitive rates

  • Covers many health conditions

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Strict temporary coverage qualifications 

  • Reconsideration is paid for by the applicant

Smokers will always pay more for life insurance than non-smokers for comparable policies, but Banner Life offers the most competitive rates to smokers among Policygenius’ partners. You’ll also be able to apply for lower premiums after a year if you quit smoking, whereas some other insurers do not offer non-smoker rates for two years or more.

Prudential

3.4

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Prudential logo

Best for former smokers

Smokeless tobacco

Cigar use

Prudential is one of the top life insurance carriers for people with common medical conditions. Former smokers, smokeless tobacco users, and cigar smokers can get non-smoker rates.

Pros

  • High financial ratings

  • Competitive underwriting for a range of medical conditions

  • Comprehensive online resources

Cons

  • Very high premiums

  • Mixed customer ratings

  • Cumbersome quote tool

Prudential’s underwriting guidelines offer maximum flexibility for people who quit smoking recently; you're eligible for non-smoker rates after one year of quitting. It is also the best option for people who use tobacco or nicotine products but don’t smoke cigarettes. Any amount of cigar smoking, chewing tobacco use, pipe and hookah smoking, or nicotine patch and gum use do not disqualify you from non-smoker prices. Many other insurers will limit the number of cigars you can smoke each year, or treat nicotine replacement products like other tobacco products. Using electronic cigarettes or vaping, like other insurance companies, is considered at smoker rates regardless of if it includes nicotine.

Lincoln Financial

4.7

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Lincoln Financial logo

Best for former smokers

Smokeless tobacco

Cigar use

Lincoln Financial offers a no-medical exam term life policy with quick decisions and affordable rates for shoppers of all age ranges, including former smokers and marijuana users.

Pros

  • Affordable for older applicants

  • No-medical-exam option available

  • Very fast turnaround

  • Low rates for marijuana users

Cons

  • Expensive permanent policies

  • Few online tools

Lincoln Financial is another great option for former smokers and alternative tobacco product users. Use of nicotine patches or gum, smokeless tobacco, cigars, pipe, and hookah will be underwritten as non-smoking. You’ll need to wait a little longer to be eligible for non-smoker rates compared to Prudential — two years versus one — but the prices are slightly more competitive. ​​

Methodology: How we chose the best companies for smokers

Policygenius takes a comprehensive approach to determine the best life insurance companies out there. We don't get paid for reviews and evaluate an extensive set of criteria to come up with an unbiased analysis to help you find the right insurer. 

Our independent analyses consist of life insurance recommendations by experts in the field, data from the life insurance companies we offer in our marketplace, and third-party life insurance ratings agencies.

These ratings evaluate an insurer’s ability to meet its financial obligations, financial health, customer satisfaction, marketing practices, and more. 

→ Learn more about our ratings methodology for life insurance reviews here

Life insurance for smokers FAQ:

Can I get life insurance if I smoke?

You can still get life insurance if you smoke, but you’ll pay more. Smokers can get the most competitive rates from Banner, while people who use other kinds of tobacco will get better rates with Prudential.

How much more does life insurance cost for smokers?

Smokers pay two to three times more for life insurance compared to nonsmokers of similar age and health history.

How long after quitting smoking can you get life insurance?

To qualify for nonsmoker rates, most companies require you to be nicotine-free for at least one year.

Does COVID-19 affect the life insurance application process or eligibility?

Due to the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, some insurers are modifying processes and/or imposing coverage restrictions on certain health conditions or age groups. Speak to a Policygenius agent for free to find out how to get the most affordable policy.