Getting life insurance after you quit smoking can be a tricky process. Insurance companies will want to see that you have genuinely quit and that the health risks associated with your previous smoking habit have decreased before they will consider you for a standard policy. Here’s an overview of what to expect when applying for life insurance after quitting smoking, including how long you’ll typically need to wait to get approved for the best rates.
How Smoking Affects Life Insurance Rates
Smokers pay considerably higher life insurance premiums than non-smokers. On average, life insurance rates for smokers can be 2-3 times higher than those for non-smokers, depending on the insurance company.
This is because smoking is associated with increased risks of developing serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and COPD. Insurance companies consider smokers to be high-risk clients and charge higher premiums accordingly.
The dangers of smoking are well-documented. According to the CDC, smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States. Quitting smoking significantly reduces your risk for many diseases and can add as much as 10 years to your life expectancy, according to some studies.
So if you can quit smoking and stay tobacco-free over an extended period of time, you should eventually be able to qualify for the same lower life insurance rates as non-smokers. But how long does it take for your risk profile to change in the eyes of an insurance company?
How Long You Have to Quit Smoking to Get Non-Smoker Rates
Most insurance companies will not classify you as a non-smoker until you have abstained from smoking for at least 12 months. Some companies may require you to quit for longer periods of time, such as 24 months or more.
Here are some guidelines on how long insurance companies typically require you to be smoke-free to get non-smoker life insurance premiums:
- 1 year smoke-free: Many companies will classify you as a non-smoker after 12 months tobacco and nicotine-free.
- 2 years smoke-free: Some companies require 24 months tobacco and nicotine-free before they consider non-smoker rates. This can include e-cigarettes and vaping products.
- 5 years smoke-free: For people with significant smoking histories (2+ packs per day for many years), some companies may require 5 years or longer tobacco and nicotine-free.
The insurance company will likely require an affidavit that you have abstained from all nicotine products for the specified smoke-free period. Lab tests may also be used to verify your nicotine-free status, especially if you have a long smoking history.
How to Get Affordable Coverage Sooner
If you don’t want to wait 12+ months to apply for non-smoker life insurance rates, you still have options to get affordable coverage earlier than that:
- Look for no nicotine use periods less than 12 months – Some insurance companies only require 6 months or 9 months nicotine-free before granting non-smoker rates. Shopping around can help you find these shorter wait periods.
- Consider “Preferred Smoker” Rates – After being smoke-free for as little as 6 months, some companies may offer “Preferred Smoker” rates that are cheaper than standard smoker rates. They reward your efforts to quit.
- Get Evaluated for Nicotine-Free Program – Some insurers offer special programs for recent quitters that don’t require long wait periods. With lab tests showing you are nicotine-free, you may qualify for better rates.
- Explore Simplified Issue Life Insurance – With simplified issue policies, limited medical questions are asked and you may qualify for non-tobacco rates more quickly. The coverage amounts tend to be lower ($100k-$500k).
As you get further from your quit date, more companies will offer you lower non-smoking rates. But the options above can help you get approved for life insurance more quickly after putting down the cigarettes.
Tips for Quitting Smoking and Getting Life Insurance
Here are some tips to help you quit smoking successfully so that you can get approved for affordable life insurance as soon as possible:
- Quit cold turkey – Stopping all at once gives you the best chance of staying quit long-term. Don’t gradually cut back.
- Get support – Get help from quit smoking apps, nicotine patches/gum, and social support from friends and family. Avoid triggers.
- Choose healthy alternatives – Exercise, drink more water, pick up a new hobby – replace smoking with other healthy habits.
- Celebrate milestones – Mark milestones like one week or one month without smoking. Celebrate your willpower and progress.
- Take it day-by-day – Don’t worry about being smoke-free for the rest of your life. Just focus on going one more day without smoking. The days will add up.
- Consider nicotine-free certification – Some labs can test and certify that you are nicotine-free. This can help shorten the wait for non-smoker rates.
With check and support, you can quit smoking for good. Stick to your quit plan and in time you’ll be rewarded with better health and lower insurance premiums. Perseverance pays off.
The Bottom Line
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health and your insurance rates. Most insurance companies will require you to be smoke-free for at least 12 months (some longer) before they will classify you as a non-smoker. But there are options like Preferred Smoker rates and nicotine-free programs that can help you get approved for cheaper life insurance more quickly after you quit.
Stay focused on your goal of becoming smoke-free. With time and commitment to staying nicotine-free, your perseverance will pay off with access to affordable life insurance rates again. A tobacco-free life leads to better health and financial benefits.
How long after leave smoking can I get life insurance?
The duration after quitting smoking to be eligible for life insurance varies among insurers, but it’s typically around 12 months of being tobacco-free. Some insurers may require up to 24 months for non-smoker rates.
Will my life insurance premiums be lower if I quit smoking?
Yes, if you’ve successfully quit smoking for at least 12 months, you can often qualify for non-smoker rates, which are generally more affordable than smoker rates.
Can I lie about my smoking history to get lower life insurance rates?
It is not advisable to lie about your smoking history when applying for life insurance. Insurers may verify your medical records and perform nicotine tests, which could lead to policy cancellation or claim denial.
Do e-cigarettes or vaping affect my life insurance rates?
Many insurers treat e-cigarettes and vaping similarly to traditional smoking. You may still need to wait a specific period of being tobacco-free to qualify for non-smoker rates.
How can I prove I’ve quit smoking to my life insurance company?
You can provide evidence of smoking cessation through medical records, doctor’s certificates, or a nicotine test. Contact your insurer to understand their specific requirements for verifying your non-smoker status.