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Most providers consider vaping the same as smoking for life insurance purposes, with a couple of exceptions. We broke down how vaping affects your premiums.
Patrick Hanzel, CFP®
Updated December 3, 2020|4 min read
Table of Contents
Many smokers switch to e-cigarettes because they believe it’s healthier to vape than to inhale tobacco smoke. E-cig users who previously smoked cigarettes may feel healthier, reporting that they have a greater lung capacity and less irritated sinuses. However, recent research on vaping is limited and the jury is still out on its health effects, which means life insurance companies remain cautious about insuring vape users.
Because of the minimal regulations around vaping products and devices and the lack of information about long-term health effects, most major life insurance companies treat vaping the same as they treat smoking when determining how much you’ll pay for a policy. That means e-cig users will pay significantly higher premiums than their non-smoking peers. However, a few insurers might offer non-smoker premiums if you vape a nicotine- or cannabis-free product, like a flavored 0% nicotine e-juice.
Vapers usually receive the same premiums and health classifications as smokers
Smokers pay two to four times more for life insurance than non-smokers
Some insurers may consider non-smoker premiums if your vaping is nicotine- and cannabis-free
Concealing a vaping habit can cause an insurer to deny coverage or cancel your policy
When you apply for life insurance, the insurance company will use the underwriting process to determine the risk of insuring you and set your premiums. The healthier you are and the less complicated your family medical history, the lower your premiums will be.
If you vape, almost every major insurer will evaluate you as a smoker. That’s partially due to the lack of familiarity life insurance companies have with vaping; most of them classify e-cigs as a tobacco device because vape juice can contain nicotine, which providers test for during the life insurance medical exam.
Smokers receive a separate health classification during underwriting, and pay two to four times more than non-smokers in their health class and age groups.
Methodology: Rates are calculated for male and female smokers and non-smokers in Ohio, who qualify for a Preferred or Preferred Tobacco rate class, obtaining a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 12/03/2020.
Luckily, some providers are adapting. If you don’t vape a nicotine product and your nicotine test is negative, then you may be eligible for non-smoker premiums with a few insurers. Some may even be more lenient if you vape marijuana rather than nicotine. An independent insurance agent or broker can help you compare quotes to find an affordable policy whether you vape nicotine-free products or not.
Life insurance providers specialize in risk assessment, which means they can be slower to develop guidelines for weighing newer risks, like e-cigarettes, when information is limited. Compared to cigarettes, there’s less data available on the health impacts of vaping, and the industry is mostly unregulated.
While some argue vaping is healthier than smoking cigarettes, there are still harmful chemicals in your device that can have negative side effects for your health — the metal used in the coil or the chemicals in the juice, for example. If your vape device or its modifications were made in a place with less quality control, you could be inhaling harmful substances.
"Life insurance companies are very risk-averse. If there is a particular area in the medical field with a lot of uncertainty, most will err on the side of caution,” Patrick Hanzel, Policygenius’ Advanced Planning Specialist and Certified Financial Planner explains. “On top of that, they also want to make sure they protect their current policyholders.”
If you want to avoid being classified as a smoker and keep your premiums low, you’ll need to quit vaping long before you apply for life insurance. Most insurers want to see that you haven’t vaped for a specific timespan — usually 12 months but potentially as long as five years — before they’ll offer you a more favorable health classification.
Life insurance companies are very risk-averse. So when it comes to vaping and other areas of uncertainty, they'll err on the side of caution.
Tell the whole truth about your e-cigarette habit, even if lying could result in more affordable insurance. Every life insurance company enforces a contestability period for the first two years after you purchase a policy. If you knowingly misrepresent your vape use, and you die during the contestability period, the life insurance company may refuse to pay the death benefit owed to your beneficiaries, leaving them without financial protection. Many policies also include language that allows insurers to deny the death benefit due to misrepresentation on your application even if you die after the contestability period ends.
If the insurer does choose to pay out, it may reduce the death benefit payout by the amount you would’ve paid in premiums had you accurately described your vaping habits. The penalties for lying apply even if tobacco or nicotine isn’t the cause of death.
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While you’ll probably pay more for life insurance if you vape, it’s partially because life insurance providers have limited information with which to assess the riskiness of your habit. As more data becomes available, some providers might become more flexible with users who vape non-nicotine products. If you eventually quit, you can shop for a new policy at a non-smoker premium after a year or so. Whether you plan to quit or not, an independent insurance broker like Policygenius can help you find the most affordable policy for your needs.
Yes. Most life insurance providers treat e-cigarette users like smokers, so you’ll be given a costlier smoker health rating unless you quit vaping for 12 months or more or don’t use your vape for nicotine products.
If you’re classified as a smoker, you’ll pay two to four times more per month for your life insurance policy than a non-smoker of similar age and health status.
You should disclose e-cig use to your provider. The life insurance medical exam includes a test for nicotine and cannabis that would reveal your habit, and if you’re caught in a lie your insurer could cancel your policy or deny the death benefit to your beneficiaries.