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The cheapest life insurance companies and quotes for smokers

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.

Amanda Shih author photoRebecca Shoenthal author photo

By

Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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.

&Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

Edited byAntonio Ruiz-Camacho

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Associate Content Director

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 reviewed

Expert reviewed

This article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.

Learn more about oureditorial review process.

By

Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

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

Updated|12 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

What qualifies as a smoker for life insurance?

During the application process for life insurance, companies will ask you if you consume tobacco, what kind of tobacco products you use, and how frequently you use them. Depending on your personal situation, some insurers may also ask you to take a medical test as part of the application process, including a nicotine test. To qualify for non-smoker rates, most providers will require you to be nicotine-free for at least one year.

E-cigarettes and vaping

Most major life insurance companies consider electronic cigarette (e-cigs) users riskier to insure than non-smokers. This is because there isn’t much research on vaping and its long term health effects. Insurers generally treat vapers the same as smokers when determining how much they’ll pay for a life insurance policy.

Chewing tobacco

Chewing tobacco may have an impact on your life insurance application — depending on your tobacco use and whether you have to take a medical test. Chewing tobacco can appear on a nicotine test for days or weeks after your last use. 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.

Cigars and pipes

Life insurers classify applicants in two major groups: smokers and non-smokers. Every company will ask how frequently you use tobacco and what kind of tobacco you use. Some providers, however, are more flexible about categorizing you as a non-smoker if you only occasionally consume tobacco products, such as a celebratory cigar or pipe every six months.

Nicotine gum and patches

Nicotine replacement products, such as gum and patches used to quit smoking, count as smoking to life insurance companies. Similar to chewing tobacco, cigarettes, and cigars, these products all leave traces of nicotine or cotinine in your blood and urine for more than one week and up to one month, depending on the product.

Some insurers, however, might consider offering you non-smoker rates if you disclose the use of nicotine replacement products on your application. If you use nicotine gum or patches, it can be especially helpful to work with an independent broker who may be able to find the best life insurance company and coverage product for you.

If you test positive for nicotine during a medical exam, you’ll be classified as a smoker, regardless of the tobacco or nicotine product you use.

Marijuana

Some insurers classify marijuana users as tobacco users, which means they’re only eligible for smoker rates that are two to three times higher than non-smoker rates. Other life insurance companies will offer non-smoker rates and even their best rates to marijuana users, depending on how often you use cannabis. If you vape marijuana, you’re more likely to be charged smoker rates.

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How do insurers classify smokers?

When you apply for life insurance, you are assigned a health classification based on your application details. Applicants in relatively good health, who don’t have risky habits, and who don’t practice dangerous hobbies usually get a better health classification and more affordable rates than someone who raises some flags. Smokers usually receive a lower classification for any tobacco use, but some providers give a better classification to infrequent cigar smokers.

Typical life insurance rating categories

  • Preferred Plus: applicants in superior health with no tobacco use and no family history of major medical conditions.

  • Preferred: non-smokers in good health with a minor health condition or medication.

  • Standard Plus: non-smokers in good health with a few minor health conditions or medications. 

  • Standard: Non-smokers in average health who may have a health condition, a higher height-to-weight ratio, or a family history of medical conditions. 

  • Preferred Smoker: smokers in otherwise great health with no family history of major medical conditions. 

  • Smoker (Standard): smokers with good health, who may have a minor health condition or medication

  • Table Rating: Table ratings are usually geared toward applicants who are in below-average health, and have one or more medical conditions and/or a high height-to-weight ratio. Table ratings can also include smoker or non-smoker rates depending on tobacco use.

Every life insurance applicant is given a health classification during the application process. If you’re a smoker who’s considering quitting, or you quit smoking recently but still were given a health classification as a smoker, you have options to lower the cost of life insurance in the future.

Going through underwriting or reconsideration one year after quitting, or after your initial life insurance application was processed if you’d already quit, may get you a better classification. Most insurers will require you to go through the underwriting process again — including taking the medical exam — to prove that you’re smoke-free and your health warrants a rate reduction.

How life insurers test for nicotine

When you apply for life insurance, you’ll be asked if you use tobacco products and when you last used them. That includes cigarettes, vaping, and any smokeless tobacco products. Be honest: If the insurer finds out you lied on your application, that’s fraud, and they could decline your application, cancel an existing policy or refuse to pay the death benefit to your loved ones after you die.

The next step in the underwriting process is a paramedical exam, which tests 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.

Why you shouldn’t lie about your nicotine use

If you lie about your nicotine use, somehow pass the medical screening without it showing up in a nicotine test, and are issued a non-smoker policy, you could be putting your family at risk.

The contestability period

The first two years after your policy goes in force are known as the contestability period. If you die during that period, the insurance company has the right to go through your medical records and application materials again. If they suspect that you lied about something on your application that affected their ability to insure you — for example, saying you didn’t smoke when you actually did — they can cancel your policy.

This doesn’t just apply to the contestability period. Many policies include language that allows providers to deny the death benefit or cancel the policy over fraudulent statements at any time, even past the first two years.

If you lie on your application, the best-case scenario for your beneficiaries is that the provider delays the payment of the death benefit while they investigate. The worst-case scenario is the life insurer declines to pay out at all if your death is deemed tobacco-related.

How long does nicotine stay in your system?

Signs of nicotine stay in your blood for up to three days, but cotinine — what nicotine metabolizes into and a sure sign that nicotine was present in the body — can remain in your blood for longer than a week. For a urine test, it can take almost a month to get all signs of smoking out of your system.

Will secondhand smoke show up on your life insurance nicotine test?

According to the CDC, there are known health effects of secondhand smoke. But secondhand smoke from a family member or coworker is unlikely to show up on your nicotine test.

While secondhand smoke isn’t good for you, you won’t absorb the amount of nicotine through secondhand exposure that you would as a smoker or user of other tobacco products, and it won’t show up in your blood test. If a nicotine test is positive, it’s because that person recently used tobacco.

Will nicotine gum or the nicotine patch show up on your life insurance nicotine test?

Smoking cessation products that help you quit — like nicotine patches or nicotine gum — contain enough nicotine that they’ll show up on nicotine tests. And even though these products ostensibly help you quit smoking, they’re still categorized as tobacco use by most life insurance companies.

Some insurers are more lenient than others and will give special consideration to smoking cessation products provided there isn’t any other tobacco use involved. Other insurers include cigarette smoking and nicotine substitutes (e-cigarettes, nicotine patches, and other smoking cessation products) under the same guidelines and classify users accordingly. If you’re using nicotine gum or a patch, it’s important to choose an insurer who will look favorably on your efforts to quit.

Will chewing tobacco show up on your life insurance nicotine test?

Chewing tobacco contains a high amount of nicotine, so if you’re a regular or even occasional user, you’ll likely test positive for nicotine or cotinine. Even though you aren’t technically smoking, you’ll still be assigned a smoker classification because the health risks are similar to cigarette use.

Can you quit smoking cold turkey and pass your life insurance nicotine test?

If you quit smoking several weeks before your life insurance medical exam, there is a chance that your nicotine and cotinine screenings will come back negative. Still, quitting less than a year before your medical exam is unlikely to earn you more affordable premiums. Most providers don’t offer you nonsmoker rates until you’ve gone a year or more without using tobacco.

Even if your screen comes back clear, be honest with your insurer about the day you quit smoking. If it’s recent, you won’t get nonsmoker rates, but by lying you’re committing fraud and risk having your policy canceled and leaving your family unprotected.

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.

Not sure which company is the best fit for you? A licensed Policygenius agent can talk you through the options, help you compare quotes, and walk you through the application process so you can find the company — and policy — that works for you.

Methodology: How we chose the best life insurance companies for smokers

We don't get paid for our company reviews and use an extensive rubric of criteria covering policy details, price, financial confidence, third-party ratings, and customer experience to assign unbiased ratings out of five stars. Any recommendations we make are based on internal and external expert opinions and data from our Policygenius Price Index, which uses real-time rate data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends.

Our ratings and reviews can help point you to an insurer you can rely on for your family’s financial protection, but the best life insurance company for you is dependent on multiple factors. A licensed agent at Policygenius can work with you through the application process so you’re getting coverage from the best insurer for your circumstances at the most competitive price.

→ Read more about our reviews methodology here

Best overall life insurance for smokers

Banner Life

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.7

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-med-exam option

30+ year terms

All 50 states

Why we chose it

Banner Life has some of the longest term lengths — up to 40 years — and most competitive life insurance rates available, even for people with a history of medical conditions.

Read our full Banner Life review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • Very competitive rates

  • Covers many health conditions

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Strict temporary coverage eligibility

  • 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.

Cheapest life insurance for smokers

AIG

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.6

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

30+ year terms

All 50 states

Why we chose it

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods for its Select-a-Term product, AIG is a solid option for many life insurance shoppers, including families.

Read our full AIG review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Customizable term policies

  • Benefits common health conditions

Cons

  • Below average customer ratings

  • Cumbersome quote tool

AIG is a highly-rated company that offers affordable term life insurance with customizable term lengths and riders, but it’s especially competitive when it comes to offering options for people with common health conditions, smokers included. AIG offers some of the cheapest rates on the market for both male and female smokers.

Best life insurance for healthy smokers

Transamerica

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.4

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-med-exam option

Why we chose it

Transamerica is one of the oldest and largest life insurance companies, with over 12 million active accounts today. It offers affordable rates for almost every age, and you can even skip the medical exam if you fall under a certain age or coverage amount.

Read our full Transamerica review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • Competitive rates for term life insurance

  • No-medical-exam available for people under a certain age or coverage amount

  • Former smokers may be eligible for lower rates

Cons

  • Uneven customer experience

  • Most policy changes require a paper form

Transamerica is competitively priced and allows smokers who are otherwise in good health to apply without an in-person medical exam. This can result in a faster turnaround time and an easier experience for the applicant.

Best no-medical-exam life insurance for smokers

Transamerica

Why we chose it

In most cases, tobacco users will be required to take a medical exam for life insurance. Transamerica allows smokers in otherwise good health to complete a health questionnaire along with their application instead. However, the company may request a medical exam upon further review of your health history.

Best term life insurance for smokers

Why we chose it

Term life insurance is usually the most affordable coverage option for most people, including smokers. Banner Life, our overall top choice for life insurance for smokers, is also our pick for term life coverage due to its competitive rates and long terms — up to 40 years. Smokers who also have a minor health condition may be able to get more competitive pricing with Banner Life than they would with other carriers.

Best whole life insurance for smokers

MassMutual

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange starEmpty gray star

3.8

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A++

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

NR

All 50 states

Why we chose it

MassMutual’s whole life insurance plan provides a lifetime coverage option that builds cash value with the potential to earn dividends.

Read our full MassMutual review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • Strong financial stability ratings

  • Potential for dividends

  • Offers a variety of permanent life insurance products

Cons

  • No option to skip the medical exam

  • High premiums

MassMutual pays higher dividends to its cash value policyholders than many competitors and offers competitive rates to smokers in good health. The company has high customer experience ratings compared to other carriers and consistently receives high third-party financial stability ratings, which is especially important when purchasing a lifelong policy.

That said, whole life rates are significantly higher for smokers, which can potentially cut into how much cash value you’d be able to accumulate. A convenient alternative to consider is a guaranteed universal life insurance policy. Also called GUL, this type of permanent life insurance coverage comes with fixed premiums, a guaranteed death benefit, and minimal cash value. While you won’t be able to accumulate much cash value, it can be an affordable permanent coverage option for smokers.

Best guaranteed universal life insurance for smokers

Pacific Life

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.6

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

All 50 states

No-med-exam option

Why we chose it

Pacific Life has high third-party financial ratings and a competitive application process (also known as underwriting).

Read our full Pacific Life review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • More affordable permanent insurance pricing

  • Strong financial stability ratings

  • Better for people with minor health conditions

Cons

  • No cash value whole life policy

  • Doesn’t pay dividends

Pacific Life’s guaranteed universal life insurance (GUL) can be a convenient alternative for smokers looking for permanent coverage if the cost of a whole life policy is out of reach — although permanent life insurance is, in general, many times more expensive than term, and rates are even higher for smokers. GUL is one of the most affordable and convenient policy types you can purchase to get lifelong coverage, and Pacific Life’s GUL product is one of the most competitive on the market.

How much does life insurance cost for smokers?

Smokers pay an average of 217% more than non-smokers for the same policy, according to Policygenius data. 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.

Term life insurance rates for smokers

Term life insurance is the most popular coverage option for most people — it's affordable, straightforward, and only lasts for as long as you need it. While life insurance is generally more expensive for smokers, term policies are more competitive and convenient than permanent policies, which never expire but are many times more expensive than term.

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

Age

Sex

Non-smoker

Smoker

25

Female

$21.06

$58.10

Male

$26.89

$73.44

35

Female

$25.43

$77.96

Male

$30.14

$93.23

45

Female

$47.71

$164.09

Male

$60.58

$223.83

55

Female

$108.44

$364.32

Male

$150.39

$526.72

Methodology: 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 AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, 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 12/01/2022.

20-year term life insurance rates for tobacco users

Age

Sex

$250,000 policy

$500,000 policy

$1,000,000 policy

25

Female

$34.37

$58.10

$107.13

Male

$42.44

$73.44

$135.52

35

Female

$44.12

$77.96

$142.23

Male

$52.85

$93.23

$176.03

45

Female

$89.32

$164.09

$313.43

Male

$120.06

$223.83

$430.88

55

Female

$195.98

$364.32

$705.41

Male

$283.07

$526.72

$1,022.11

Methodology: Rates are calculated for male and female smokers in a Preferred Tobacco health classification, obtaining a 20-year, $250,000, $500,000, or $1 million 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, 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 12/01/2022.

20-year term life insurance rates for older smokers

Age

Sex

$250,000 policy

$500,000 policy

$1,000,000 policy

45

Female

$127.85

$225.47

$434.18

Male

$168.52

$302.99

$583.92

55

Female

$274.29

$491.43

$941.50

Male

$376.37

$693.61

$1,334.94

65

Female

$664.69

$1,287.37

$2,425.93

Male

$838.52

$1,615.47

$3,176.63

Methodology: Rates are calculated for male and female smokers in a Standard Tobacco health classification, obtaining a 20-year, $250,000, $500,000, or $1 million 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, 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 12/01/2022.

20-year term life insurance rates for cigar smokers

Age

Sex

$250,000 policy

$500,000 policy

$1,000,000 policy

25

Female

$27.67

$44.97

$80.05

Male

$33.46

$56.31

$100.66

35

Female

$34.42

$58.06

$103.57

Male

$40.87

$69.57

$128.74

45

Female

$68.76

$120.18

$226.45

Male

$89.34

$160.32

$304.07

55

Female

$149.88

$266.89

$514.55

Male

$210.90

$383.02

$739.12

Methodology: Rates are calculated for male and female occasional cigar smokers in Standard non-smoker and Preferred smoker health classifications, obtaining a 20-year, $250,000, $500,000, or $1 million 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, 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 12/01/2022.

20-year term life insurance rates for vapers

Age

Sex

$250,000 policy

$500,000 policy

$1,000,000 policy

25

Female

$34.37

$58.10

$107.13

Male

$42.44

$73.44

$135.52

35

Female

$44.12

$77.96

$142.23

Male

$52.85

$93.23

$176.03

45

Female

$89.32

$164.09

$313.43

Male

$120.06

$223.83

$430.88

55

Female

$195.98

$364.32

$705.41

Male

$283.07

$526.72

$1,022.11

Methodology: Rates are calculated for male and female smokers in a Preferred smoker health classification, obtaining a 20-year, $250,000, $500,000, or $1 million 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, 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 12/01/2022.

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Whole life insurance rates for smokers

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent coverage that comes with a cash value component that can be used for saving, investment or estate planning purposes. Whole life policies are five to 15 times more expensive than term — and rates are even higher for smokers. This type of policy is best suited for high-net-worth individuals or people with long-term financial obligations.

Age

Sex

$250,000 policy

$500,000 policy

$1,000,000 policy

25

Female

$216

$427.20

$836.40

Male

$250.80

$495.60

$972

35

Female

$301.20

$597.60

$1,177.20

Male

$370.20

$734.40

$1,452

45

Female

$466.80

$927.60

$1,838.40

Male

$573.60

$1,142.40

$2,229.60

55

Female

$762

$1,519.20

$3,020.40

Male

$930

$1,854

$3,645.60

Methodology: Rates are calculated for male and female smokers in a Standard health classification, obtaining a $250,000, $500,000, or $1 million whole life insurance policy payable until age 100. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 12/01/2022.

When does a life insurance company consider you a non-smoker?

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

20-year term life insurance rates for people who've quit smoking

Age

Sex

$250,000 policy

$500,000 policy

$1,000,000 policy

25

Female

$20.97

$31.84

$52.98

Male

$24.48

$39.19

$65.81

35

Female

$24.73

$38.17

$64.91

Male

$28.89

$45.91

$81.45

45

Female

$48.21

$76.28

$139.48

Male

$58.63

$96.82

$177.27

55

Female

$103.79

$169.46

$323.69

Male

$138.73

$239.33

$456.13

Methodology: Rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in a Standard health classification, obtaining a 20-year, $250,000, $500,000, or $1 million 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, 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 12/01/2022.

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 life insurance 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

What happens if you start smoking after getting life insurance?

Insurance companies assess risk at the time of the application. If you were to pick up smoking after your policy is in force, your rates would remain the same. You would not need to disclose your smoking habit to your insurance company, but if you were to apply for a new policy, you would then receive smoker rates. 

That said, if you were to pass away during the contestability period — the two-year time frame during which the insurance company can review the application to confirm there were no misrepresentations — it could reflect poorly if you represented yourself as a non-smoker on the application with intentions to resume smoking. The insurance company could even deny the claim, meaning that your beneficiary would not receive the death benefit. ​​

Frequently asked questions

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 Life, but Transamerica also offers affordable rates for healthy smokers and for applicants looking for no-medical-exam coverage options.

How much more does life insurance cost for smokers?

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

How long after quitting smoking can you get life insurance?

To qualify for non-smoker 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 for smokers?

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.

Authors

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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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 & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

Editor

Associate Content Director

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Associate Content Director

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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

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

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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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