When you apply for life insurance, you usually need to take a medical exam during the underwriting process. This is like a standard physical: A technician will get your base health readings and administer a blood test, urine test, and sometimes a mouth swab, which includes nicotine testing.
Chewing tobacco can appear on a nicotine test for days or weeks after your last use, depending on how often you use tobacco and how your body metabolizes it.  As a tobacco user, you'll pay two to three times more for your policy than a non-smoker. However, some insurers are more flexible if you use smokeless tobacco.
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How chewing tobacco affects your life insurance
Life insurance companies split their health classifications into two major groups: smoker and non-smoker. Every insurer will ask how frequently you use tobacco and what you use, but some providers are more flexible about categorizing you as a non-smoker if you only occasionally use tobacco products (e.g., a celebratory cigar every six months).
If you test positive for nicotine and cotinine (what nicotine metabolizes into in the body), you’ll be categorized as a smoker and charged accordingly.
Chewing tobacco and your life insurance costs
A smoker classification doesn't mean the rest of your medical profile is ignored. Just like non-smokers, insurers apply multiple health classifications to smokers that will affect your final rates. You'll still pay more than a non-tobacco user, but you can still find affordable coverage if you have few health issues or risky hobbies.
It’s important to be honest about your chewing tobacco habit, even if it means paying more for your insurance. The medical exam can reveal if you lied about your use, and even if you manage to get a false non-smoker classification, your insurer can cancel your policy or deny your loved ones the death benefit if they find out that you lied later.
The best life insurers for chewing tobacco users
Like many factors in life insurance, every provider has its own way of evaluating the risks of insuring a tobacco user. Most insurers classify chewing tobacco users as smokers, but you'll be eligible for non-smoker rates with some.
Among Policygenius partners, chewing tobacco users are eligible for non-smoker rates with Lincoln Financial and Prudential as of February 2022. Remember that your overall health will influence your final premium in addition to your smoker or non-smoker status.
Applying for life insurance as a chewing tobacco user
If you use chewing tobacco and you want to buy life insurance, your application process won't differ much from any other applicant's. Your best bet is to disclose your use and work with an independent agent or broker.
An independent broker can help you compare a variety of life insurance quotes and help you find the best policy for your specific medical profile.
Life insurance for former chewing tobacco users
If a provider includes chewing tobacco in their definition of nicotine use, you won’t be eligible for non-smoker premiums until you’ve been nicotine-free for a sustained period.
After you’ve been tobacco-free for 12 months or more you can apply for reconsideration or start shopping for a replacement policy. Do your research to find a life insurance company with friendly policies for former tobacco users.
Frequently asked questions
Do life insurance exams test for chewing tobacco?
Yes, life insurance medical exams test for nicotine in your system, which will pick up chewing tobacco use.
Does chewing tobacco impact your life insurance?
You'll usually be categorized as a smoker for chewing tobacco use. Smokers pay two to three times more for life insurance than non-smokers.
Can you get life insurance if you've used chewing tobacco?
Current chewing tobacco users can get life insurance, but will likely pay more for coverage. Former chewing tobacco users may qualify for non-smoker rates after a year or more of quitting tobacco.