Why Smoking Increases Life Insurance Rates and How to Get Around It
There’s no question that life insurance rates increase if you’re a smoker. What you might have a question about, however, is why. Here are three reasons smokers pay more, and a few ideas on how to get around those higher rates.
Reason 1: Smoking increases the risk of certain types of cancer
From the warning label on the cigarette package itself to the various ads on television to studies done over and over through the years, it probably comes as no surprise to hear that smoking increases the risk of certain types of cancer. From mouth cancer to throat cancer to lung cancer, smoking increases the odds that the insurer will have to pay out your death benefit before you’ve paid enough premiums for them to make a profit. That is one of the biggest reasons that non-smokers pay less.
Reason 2: Smoking can complicate other illnesses and diseases
Smoking isn’t just dangerous because it increases your likelihood of cancer; it’s also dangerous because it can worsen other diseases or conditions you may have or eventually get. Smoking is bad for the heart and complicates both heart disease and arteriosclerosis. It can cause stroke and asthma, and even increases the odds that you will get type 2 diabetes.
Reason 3: Smokers may be less likely to take care of themselves in other ways
While there are certainly some smokers who are otherwise very health conscious and make sure to eat right and exercise, there are many more who ignore these significant moves in preserving their health. And since smoking can impact endurance, heart and breathing, many smokers may be unable to participate in long-lasting aerobic exercises that work out their heart effectively.
At the end of the day, life insurance rates are all about risk. The higher your likelihood of early death, the more expensive your policy is going to be. For smokers, the sheer number of ways that smoking can impact their wellness makes it a very expensive hobby when it comes to life insurance rates.
Getting Around High Smoker Rates
Shopping around for rates is one of the first things a smoker should do. Some companies are less harsh on smokers than others. If you only smoke occasionally or smoke pipes and cigars, shopping around is also important because some insurers might even give you non-smoking rates. While it’s advisable to lock in rates when you’re young and healthy, it may be worthwhile to shop rates every few years just in case you stumble on an insurer who has significantly lower rates, however generally, as you age, you become more risky and rates will continue to rise.
If you’ve already got a policy and are considering quitting smoking, call your insurer to find out if they will re-rate your policy once your doctor signs off that you’ve been smoke-free for a year. If they will, try to get an estimate of the change that will offer you in rates — it could give you a whole new incentive to quit.