Life insurance for vapers: What you need to know

Vaping won’t prevent you from getting life insurance, but insurers will consider you a smoker. Life insurance for vapers is two to three times more expensive than for non-smokers.

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By

Katherine MurbachEditor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentKatherine Murbach is a life insurance and annuities editor, licensed life insurance agent, and former sales associate at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.&Amanda ShihEditor & Licensed Life Insurance ExpertAmanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Edited by

Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.
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Reviewed by

Maria FilindrasMaria FilindrasFinancial AdvisorMaria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

Updated|3 min read

Expert reviewedExpert reviewedThis article has been reviewed by a member of ourFinancial Review Council to ensure all sources, statistics, and claims meet the highest standard for accurate and unbiased advice.Learn more about oureditorial review process.

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Life insurance companies generally treat vaping the same as smoking when determining how much you’ll pay for a policy. E-cigarette users can still buy traditional life insurance, but they’ll pay two to three times more for coverage than their non-smoking peers.

This is because there still isn’t much research on vaping and its long-term health effects, so most insurers consider vape users riskier to insure than non-users.

If you want to avoid being classified as a smoker due to your use of e-cigs and keep your premiums low, you need to quit vaping long before you apply for life insurance. Insurers want you to be completely tobacco- and vape-free for a set period — usually 12 months, but sometimes up to two or three years — before they’ll offer you non-smoker rates.

Life insurance terms you should know
  • Beneficiaries: The people you name on your life insurance policy to receive the lump sum of money — also known as the death benefit — when you die.

  • Cash value: The portion of a permanent life insurance policy’s monetary value that grows tax-deferred over the life of the policy.

  • Death benefit: The amount of money the life insurance company will pay your beneficiaries when you die.

  • Face amount: The dollar amount, or death benefit, your beneficiaries receive if you die while your life insurance policy is active.

  • Insured: The person who is covered by the insurance policy.

  • Policy: The legal document that includes the terms and conditions of your life insurance contract.

  • Policyholder: The person who owns an insurance policy. Usually, this is the same person as the insured.

  • Permanent life insurance: A type of life insurance that lasts for the rest of your life and usually includes a cash value account.

  • Premium: The amount you pay your insurance company to keep your coverage active. Premiums are typically paid monthly or annually.

  • Riders: Add-ons to a life insurance policy that provide more robust coverage, sometimes for an extra cost.

  • Term life insurance: A life insurance policy that lasts for a set number of years before it expires. If you die before the term is up, your beneficiaries receive a death benefit.

  • Underwriting: The process where an insurance company evaluates the risk of insuring you and determines your final rate.

Does vaping affect your life insurance rates?

Yes, vaping does have an impact on your life insurance rates. If you vape, you’ll pay higher premiums than somebody who doesn’t vape or use nicotine products.

When you apply for life insurance, the insurance company will evaluate your overall profile — including your age, gender, health, and lifestyle habits — and assign your premiums. The fewer health conditions and risk factors you have, the less you’ll pay for life insurance.

Most insurers classify e-cig use as tobacco use because vape juice often contains nicotine, which insurers test for using a medical exam. Tobacco users receive a separate health classification, which translates into a costlier policy.

Learn more about life insurance health classifications

Why is vaping treated like smoking by life insurers?

Since vaping could impact your health similarly to smoking, life insurance companies consider it an equally high insurance risk.

  • There can be harmful chemicals in your vape device that might have negative side effects on your health — the metal used in the coil, or the chemicals in the juice, for example.

  • You could inhale harmful substances if your vape or its modifications were made somewhere with poor quality control. [1]

In addition to the nicotine use associated with vaping, there’s less data available on the health impacts of vaping compared to the effects of cigarette use. [2] The e-cigarette industry is also much less regulated than its tobacco counterpart.

“Life insurance companies are very risk-averse,” says Patrick Hanzel, certified financial planner and advanced planning manager at Policygenius. “If there’s a particular area in the medical field with a lot of uncertainty, most will err on the side of caution.”

Ready to shop for life insurance?

How do insurers test for vaping?

When you apply for life insurance, you’ll be asked if you use tobacco products and when you last used them. In addition to cigarettes and any smokeless tobacco products, that includes e-cigarettes.

Additionally, during underwriting — which is the process the insurance company uses to assess your insurance risk and set your rates — you’ll likely have to take a medical exam. The exam includes blood and urine tests. 

  • The blood test looks not just for nicotine, but also for cotinine — a byproduct of your body processing nicotine that stays in your blood even after nicotine has left your system. 

  • Both tests will look for the presence of THC. If you vape marijuana, THC may show up in a blood test up to 36 hours after marijuana use, and in a urine test after between three and 30 days, depending on the frequency of use.

Insurers can also have access to your medical records through the Medical Information Bureau (MIB), and may request an attending physician statement (APS) from your primary doctor to confirm the details of your health history.

Why do you need to be honest about your vaping history?

Any substance you vape can show up during your medical exam or in your health history. You won’t be denied coverage due to your use of e-cigarettes, but you might be penalized if you try to hide it from the insurance company. 

  • If you misrepresent your e-cig use and die during the policy’s contestability period, which usually lasts two years and allows insurers to investigate any death claim considered suspicious, your insurance company can refuse to pay the death benefit to your beneficiaries, leaving them without financial protection.

  • Most policies also allow insurers to deny the death benefit due to intentional lies — which are considered insurance fraud — on the application even if you die after the contestability period ends.

  • If the life insurance company does pay out the claim, it may reduce the death benefit by the amount you would’ve paid in premiums had you disclosed your vaping habit.

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How much does life insurance cost if you vape?

A 30-year-old female who vapes nicotine and is in otherwise good health can expect to pay $65.75 per month for a 20-year term life insurance policy with a $500,000 payout. A 30-year-old male with the same profile can expect to pay $81 per month for the same coverage.

Age

Gender

Non-smoker

Smoker

20

Female

$22.65

$60.59

Male

$30.20

$76.43

30

Female

$22.98

$65.75

Male

$29.32

$80.95

40

Female

$35.27

$113.40

Male

$42.94

$145.39

50

Female

$78.29

$257.05

Male

$102.50

$351.50

60

Female

$194.16

$617.51

Male

$268.04

$887.93

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Methodology: Average monthly rates are calculated for male and female smokers and non-smokers in a Preferred or Preferred Tobacco health classification, obtaining a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Corebridge Financial, Legal & General America, Lincoln Financial, Foresters Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, and Transamerica, and the Policygenius Life Insurance Price Index, which uses real-time data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends. Rates may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 04/01/2024.

If you vape marijuana, you may not qualify for the lowest smoker rates with some insurers. A Policygenius agent can help you compare quotes to find the right policy for your vaping history.

See the best life insurance companies for smokers

Other health concerns that can affect your life insurance

Certain pre-existing conditions and other health-related concerns can affect your life insurance options or costs. A Policygenius expert can help you find the right policy for your needs.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of oureditorial standards.

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    . "

    The facts on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults

    ." Accessed April 16, 2024.

  2. Harvard Medical School

    . "

    Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don’t) know

    ." Accessed April 16, 2024.

Authors

Katherine Murbach is a life insurance and annuities editor, licensed life insurance agent, and former sales associate at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Editor

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Expert reviewer

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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