How Much Are Premiums on Term Life Insurance If You Use Tobacco?I always assumed that life insurance for tobacco users was more expensive than those that don’t use it, but I never realized how much more.

A younger client of mine in their 30’s was interested in purchasing term life insurance and what I didn’t know is that he used chewing tobacco.

Once I found that out, I warned him that the potential cost could be more – which ended up being WAY much more.

In his case, his premium more than doubled.  I was astonished.

That prompted  me to do a little experiment the other day. I wanted to see how using tobacco affects your coverage premiums for life insurance – for males and females.

In some ways, I wasn’t surprised at what I discovered, based on what I discovered with my previous client.  What I was astonished was the percentage increase.

Term Life Insurance for the Average Joe or the Average Jane

Just to set the stage, let’s talk about Term Life Insurance for a moment. Wikipedia defines it as:

“Term life insurance or term assurance is life insurance which provides coverage at a fixed rate of payments for a limited period of time, the relevant term. After that period expires coverage at the previous rate of premiums is no longer guaranteed and the client must either forgo coverage or potentially obtain further coverage with different payments and/or conditions. If the insured dies during the term, the death benefit will be paid to the beneficiary. Term insurance is the least expensive way to purchase a substantial death benefit on a coverage amount per premium dollar basis.”

In plain English, it’s a form of life insurance that covers a specific term, or period of time. If the insured person passes away during this term, the death benefit is paid to the beneficiary. In contrast, things like Whole Life Insurance cover an individual for his or her entire life.

Term life is a solid fit for many people, and being the original kind of life insurance, it’s what many people are used to.

Why Being a Tobacco User will Kill More Than Your Lungs

That’s right – it will also kill you with insurance premiums.

It’s no secret that health insurance premiums are higher for smokers. And when you think about it from the insurance company’s point of view, it makes a lot of sense. Smokers are way, way more likely to have health issues. On top of all the issues that smoking itself creates, smokers are more likely to have poor diets, exercise less, and suffer from many illnesses and diseases related to their inactive lifestyle. To an insurance agency, a smoker is one of the highest risk people.

What Would You Guess The Difference Is?

Take a crack at it. What do you think the cost difference is for someone to get term life insurance who’s not a smoker, versus the cost of term life insurance for a smoker? Twice as much? Three times?

Try almost four times as much!

I ran term life quotes for a male and female at 30 year term $250,000 preferred non-tobacco and preferred tobacco. In some of those numbers I ran the other day, I found differences up the 3.8 times as high for smokers versus non-smokers.

Check out these numbers for insurance premiums of tobacco users vs. non-users:

  • 30 Year Old, Male Non-Smoker: $282
  • 30 Year Old, Male Smoker: $735
  • Percent Difference: 2.606 times as expensive for the smoker
  • 30 Year Old, Female Non-Smoker: $200
  • 30 Year Old, Female Smoker: $527.50
  • Percent Difference: 2.638 times as expensive for the smoker
  • 40 Year Old, Male Non-Smoker: $375
  • 40 Year Old, Male Smoker: $1434
  • Percent Difference: 3.824 times as expensive for the smoker (this is the highest difference)
  • 40 Year Old, Female Non-Smoker: $300
  • 40 Year Old, Female Smoker: $977
  • Percent Difference: 3.256 times as expensive for the smoker

Here are some numbers for a 20 year term at $250,000 for a 40 year old

I ran these numbers since I figured a 40 year old probably wouldn’t want to have a life insurance premium payment until they were 70 years old.

  • 40 Year Old, Male Non-Smoker: $230
  • 40 Year Old, Male Smoker: $852
  • Percent Difference: 3.704 times as expensive for the smoker
  • 40 Year Old, Female Non-Smoker: $200
  • 40 Year Old, Female Smoker: $690
  • Percent Difference: 3.450 times as expensive for the smoker

These numbers are just to be used as examples. Please consult an insurance professional to see what type of insurance would be best suited for you.

Tobacco Use Affects All Kind of Life Insurance

Don’t just think that smoking or using chewing tobacco will just affect your term life insurance premiums.  I also had another case where an older client was looking to use their built up cash value in their whole policy to buy a paid up permanent policy.  The initial interview seemed like he was a good candidate for the process.  That is, until the client had a bit of a brain lapse.  The client who doesn’t typically use tobacco, decided to have some chewing tobacco while he drove his tractor on his little farm.  It might not have been a big deal, except for the fact, it was 3 days before his medical exam! Needless to say, it came back that he had tobacco in his system and it ruined the chances of us moving forward.

Moral Of The Story

What am I getting at here? Exactly this: if you want to be a Soldier of Finance like me, quit smoking or using chewing tobacco.

Next time you buy a pack of cigarettes for about $10.00 and think “These things are expensive” remember these numbers. And realize that those cigarettes are costing you way more in insurance premiums than they cost you at the store.

Comments | 3 Responses

  1. Tracy says

    I really enjoy your website. I’m currently taking a Life Insurance and Employee Benefits class this semester at UMSL (actually my final exam is tonight) so this information is very interesting to me. As a finance major I look forward to reading your blog.

    Thank you,

  2. says

    Rates will always be higher for smokers but fortunately you can apply for a new policy after you haven’t smoked for 1 or 2 years.

  3. Larry Purnell says

    I am 54 years of age and on November 5, 2011, I will turn 55. I work for the US Govenmenat and will be eligible to retire and need to get some financial advise are the best options avaliable to me.

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