Does smoking cigars affect my life insurance rates?

By Insurance.com Posted : 01/01/2011

Smoking cigars may affect your life insurance rates. Just how much more you will have to pay varies from one company to the next.

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Life insurance rates are based on your health and lifestyle - both indicators of longevity. There are three rate classifications to price policies: standard, preferred or preferred plus. Nicotine users have separate risk classes and pay substantially more for life insurance.

There is evidence that suggests cigar smoking can lower life expectancy. For example, cigar smoking has been linked to lip, tongue, mouth and throat cancer, as well as cancer of the esophagus, larynx, lungs and possibly pancreas. The U.S. surgeon general also reports that "exposure to tobacco smoke--even occasional smoking or secondhand smoke--causes immediate damage to your body that can lead to serious illness or death."

If you only indulge in an occasional cigar, some life insurance companies will consider you to be a non-smoker and offer a "nonsmoking preferred" or "nonsmoking standard" rate class. However, you most likely won't qualify for the best rate--super preferred.

Don't repackage the truth

It's never a good idea to lie to your life insurance company. If your death turned out to be smoking-related, and you didn't mention it on your application, the life insurance claim could be denied.

Additionally, a medical exam is part of most life insurance applications, which includes urine analysis and a blood test. Nicotine use would more than likely be detected.

If you're turned down by one insurer and decide to apply to a different company, don't be tempted to exclude information about your cigar smoking habits. Insurers have access to a database run by MIB Group. The database retains insurance application and related medical information for seven years.

It's best to tell the truth about your cigar smoking habits and compare life insurance rates to find the best deal. Insurers may even be willing to reclassify your status and lower your premiums if you quit smoking even the occasional cigar.

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