Best Life Insurance for Smokers

Mutual of Omaha offers the best life insurance for smokers

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Purchasing a life insurance policy is one of the best ways to financially protect your family should you die. However, securing a life insurance policy as a smoker can feel impossible. Not only will you pay higher premiums than non-smokers, but life insurance companies classify smokers differently than non-smokers because smoking is a leading cause of death, and that means the insurer is more likely to have to pay a claim. 

However, smokers generally won’t be declined coverage just because they smoke. If you look carefully enough, you’ll be able to find a suitable policy that will provide for your loved ones. The best policies provide affordable, comprehensive coverage from reputable companies.

The Best Life Insurance for Smokers in 2021

Best Overall : Mutual of Omaha


Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha

Why We Chose It 

This longstanding and reputable insurance carrier offers a variety of customizable life insurance plans and is the best overall option for smokers who need affordable rates and personalized policies.

Pros
  • Offers term, whole life, and universal policies

  • Whole life policies don’t factor in tobacco use

  • No medical exam required

Cons
  • Limited death benefits for whole life policies

  • Must work with an agent for more flexible plans or higher coverage

Mutual of Omaha has a robust offering of life insurance products, including whole life policies that don’t factor in tobacco use for determining the premium. The company's whole life insurance policy provides a guaranteed death benefit as well as cash value and level premiums. 

You should know, however, that Mutual of Omaha designs its whole life policies to pay for end-of-life costs and policyholder debt, so your death benefit may not necessarily pay your beneficiaries. If you want to purchase a policy online, you can choose a death benefit of up to $25,000. Working with an agent gives you more leeway and you may be able to secure a higher coverage limit. 

You can look into Mutual of Omaha’s other life insurance products, including term life and universal life insurance, but understand that these types of policies may require you to take a medical exam, and you might pay a significantly higher premium as a smoker. If you’re already on a smoking cessation plan, you can ask an agent how long Mutual of Omaha requires smokers to be tobacco-free to qualify for non-smoking rates. 

Mutual of Omaha has an AM Best rating of A+, indicating financial stability, but customer reviews are a mixed bag. However, many times, customer satisfaction is directly related to the insurance agent one works with. 

Read our full Mutual of Omaha review.

Best No Exam Option : Globe Life


Globe Life

Globe Life

Why We Chose It 

Globe Life offers no-exam policies with no waiting period, which is a good option for those with underlying conditions.

Pros
  • No medical exam required

  • Very affordable monthly premiums

  • Coverage limits up to $100,000

Cons
  • No guaranteed issue policies

  • High rate of customer service complaints

Most insurance companies won’t reject you just for smoking, but if you smoke and have a medical condition, you may not be accepted for coverage that requires a medical exam. In that case, a no medical exam policy is your best bet. 

Globe Life offers several policy types without a medical exam requirement and instead bases its coverage decisions on your application and answers to health questions. Because of this, there’s usually no waiting period or a very short waiting period and you might even secure coverage on the day you apply. 

Globe Life’s term life policies offer coverage up to $100,000 while the whole life policies offer up to $50,000. Using tobacco or nicotine products will affect your premium, but you still might pay a lower premium overall compared to other carriers. This is because Globe Life has affordable premiums starting at less than $4 per month for adults. 

Remember, “no medical exam” and “guaranteed issue” doesn’t mean the same thing when it comes to life insurance. Globe Life can still reject coverage based on any factors in your application such as pre-existing conditions, Generally, if you smoke, life insurance companies will look for pre-existing conditions that are heavily linked to smoking such as asthma, heart disease, or high cholesterol. 

Globe Life does have poor reviews and ratings across different sites. For a company of its size, Globe Life receives more complaints than it should, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Read our full Globe Life Insurance review.

Best for Smokers in Good Health : John Hancock


John Hancock

 John Hancock

Why We Chose It 

John Hancock incentivizes healthy living and rewards policyholders, whether they smoke or not, for healthy habits such as buying nutritious food and meditating. 

What We Like
  • High coverage limits for most policies

  • Vitality program encourages healthy living habits

  • Offers guaranteed issue policies

  • Offers a Quit Smoking Incentive

What We Don’t Like
  • No whole life policy options

  • Can’t get coverage online; must work with an agent

John Hancock is one of the only life insurance companies that offer special perks and discounts based on your lifestyle—even for smokers. While you might pay a higher premium on one of John Hancock’s whole, term, or universal life insurance policies, you could also save up to 15% on your policy premium by engaging in the Vitality program. 

The Vitality program incentivizes healthy living by offering discounts on healthy foods at the grocery store, providing a free subscription to the meditation app Headspace, and encouraging you to log steps and activities on a fitness watch. 

John Hancock also offers a Quit Smoking Incentive (QSI), which encourages policyholders who smoke to quit by offering non-smoking premiums for the first three years. To qualify for the QSI program, you must be between the ages of 20 and 70. After the first three years, you must provide proof that you’ve abstained from nicotine and tobacco for at least 12 months, otherwise, your premium will increase to standard rates for smokers. To prove that you’re now a non-smoker, you’ll have to retake the medical exam and pass it, meaning there should be no signs of nicotine in your specimens. 

So, whether you have plans to quit smoking or not, John Hancock is a great life insurance option for you if you’re otherwise healthy and value things like fitness and mindfulness. 

John Hancock offers a variety of plans with coverage limits ranging from just $2,000 up to $65 million. Your monthly premium will depend on your coverage limit, as well as your application and medical exam if you take one. 

Read our full John Hancock Life Insurance review.

Best for Term Life : Banner Life


Banner Life

 Banner Life

Why We Chose It 

Banner Life insurance is a solid choice for term life insurance for anyone, smoker or not. Long term lengths, flexible policy options, and unique classification of medical conditions make it a winner for anyone looking for a term policy.

ProsCons
  • Up to 40-year term policies

  • Coverage limits up to $1 million

  • Covers many pre-existing medical conditions

What We Don’t Like
  • Uses a traditional underwriting process

  • May require a medical exam

Banner Life is a no-frills life insurance carrier that’s part of Legal & General Group. This company is great for people who feel overwhelmed by all of the different life insurance possibilities or just don’t need a complex plan. Banner Life offers three basic types of life insurance plans and key endorsements for extra protection. 

Banner Life insurance is a good option for smokers because the company’s flexible underwriting process looks less at a single issue like smoking and more at the overall habits and health history of a person. That is, Banner doesn’t penalize you as much as some other life insurance companies do for smoking, as long as you’re healthy in other aspects. Note, though, you’ll still be classified as a higher risk than a non-smoker. 

You can choose term or universal life insurance from Banner Life, but term life insurance is where Banner shines. Banner Life offers longer and more flexible term life insurance policies with lower premiums than many other carriers. You can purchase 35- or 40-year term lengths with Banner Life, and you can “ladder” your terms to get more coverage when you need it. 

Unfortunately, Banner Life still utilizes a lengthy, traditional underwriting process that can take several weeks. And if you smoke, you won’t be able to opt out of the medical exam. Despite this, Banner Life has pretty favorable ratings across ranking sites and third-party review sites. The AM Best rating of A+ (Superior) indicates that Banner is financially stable and will pay out your death benefit. 

Read our full Banner Life Insurance review.

Best for Whole Life : New York Life


New York Life

 New York Life

Why We Chose It 

When it comes to permanent life insurance, New York Life offers favorable policies that include endorsements, flexible coverage, and the ability to receive dividends. 

Pros
  • Premiums never increase, even as you age

  • Policyholders can grow cash value with potential for dividends

  • Several rider options allow for personalization

Cons
  • Can’t get a quote on your own; must work with an agent

  • Customer service reviews are a mixed bag

Finding affordable whole life insurance for smokers is a battle. If you’re in the market for whole life insurance as a smoker, consider New York Life, which offers customizable and flexible whole life plans.

While the whole life plans do require a medical exam, they’re still available to people who smoke, and the level of customization might be worth the premium. New York Life offers several riders including living benefits, chronic care, accidental death benefit, and disability waiver of premium. 

The standard whole life policy includes cash value, the potential for dividends, level premiums, and a guaranteed death benefit. You can choose to pay your premiums in a customized way, too, which can help you maximize the cash value of your policy. 

You’ll have to contact an agent to see if you qualify for this plan because there’s limited information about eligibility online. You also can’t get a quote online, which is inconvenient but does allow you to receive the best option from an agent who knows the ins and outs of the company. 

New York Life has been around since 1845, has an AM Best rating of A++ (Superior), and was recognized as one of the best life insurance companies in the 2020 JD Power Life Insurance Study. Despite those accolades, New York Life has mixed reviews when it comes to customer satisfaction.  

Read our full New York Life Life Insurance review.

Best for Marijuana Smokers : Prudential


Prudential

 Prudential

Why We Chose It 

Prudential recognizes that the scientific consensus on marijuana smoking has changed over time, and offers non-smoking life insurance rates for people who recreationally smoke marijuana fewer than three times per week. 

Pros
  • Progressive underwriting process that covers marijuana use

  • Offers term, variable, and guaranteed universal life insurance

  • Can connect with Prudential financial planners for help choosing a policy

Cons
  • No online application; must work with an agent

  • Policies capped at age 75

Prudential is one of few life insurance carriers that recognize the changing consensus on marijuana and incorporates that into its policies. Prudential won’t penalize you for recreational marijuana smoking as long as you use it fewer than three times per week, which means that your occasional habit won’t preclude you from scoring non-smoker rates with Prudential. 

Prudential offers term, variable, and guaranteed universal life insurance. While you can find generic quotes online, you have to purchase through an agent which, although is somewhat inconvenient, also allows you the opportunity to ensure you’re getting the best premium possible. 

In your application, you’ll be asked if you smoke, although the online questionnaire doesn’t specify whether you smoke nicotine products or marijuana. You may have to take a medical exam for certain types of policies, and the levels of THC in your urine will determine whether Prudential extends favorable coverage.  

People who smoke marijuana every day probably won’t enjoy the same low premiums as people who smoke only a few times per month. We recommend getting in touch with an agent to find out how much marijuana use places you in a higher risk category. 

Read our full Prudential Life Insurance review.

Final Verdict

In our research, we found that Mutual of Omaha offers the most flexibility and benefits for smokers, including no-exam policy options and fair rates for smokers who are otherwise in good health. However, it’s always wise to do your research and talk to agents from different companies. Agents will be able to best advise you on life insurance policies appropriate for your health and financial situation.   

Compare The Best Life Insurance for Smokers

Company Medical Exam Required? Available Policies AM Best Rating Coverage Maximum
Mutual of Omaha
Best Overall
No Term, whole, and universal life A+ $100,000
Globe Life
Best No Exam Option
No Term, children’s, whole, senior, and family life; final expense and funeral insurance A $100,000
John Hancock
Best for Smokers in Good Health
For some policies Term and universal life A+ $65 million
Banner
Best for Term Life
Sometimes Term and universal life A+ $1 million
New York Life
Best for Whole Life
Sometimes Term, whole, and universal life A++ Contact an agent
Prudential
Best for Marijuana Smokers
Sometimes Term and universal life A+ $10 million

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Life Insurance for Smokers?

There isn’t a special type of life insurance for smokers. Rather, life insurance policies available to smokers are often are the same as life insurance policies for non-smokers but with higher premiums

Smokers may have more restrictions on life insurance policies than non-smokers. For example, some carriers may not allow smokers to add a chronic illness rider. 

Why Does Life Insurance Cost More for Smokers? 

Due to the known health effects of smoking, life insurance policies cost more for smokers than non-smokers. Smokers are more likely to develop several health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke, which means that companies are more likely to have to pay out on a life insurance policy. 

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., so insuring a smoker is a risk for life insurance companies.

How Do Life Insurance Companies Know You’re a Smoker?

Life insurance companies use nicotine tests to determine whether you’re a smoker. During your application, you’ll be asked if you smoke. If you say yes, you’ll be subject to a nicotine test, which usually involves a urine sample. The test also looks for cotinine, a byproduct of the breakdown of nicotine that stays in your body even after nicotine is gone. 

What Happens if You Lie About Smoking to a Life Insurance Company?

It’s not a good idea to lie about smoking to your life insurer. Lying to get cheaper life insurance is fraud. If the insurance company finds out you lied on your application, you will be denied coverage and the incident will be logged on the Medical Information Bureau, a database insurance companies use to vet people applying for insurance. This means other carriers might reject your application based on the lie you made on a previous application. 

If you do manage to secure a life insurance policy with a lie, there can be reparations, even if you hold a no-exam or guaranteed issue policy. For example, when you die, if your autopsy report includes a smoking-related illness, your insurer might void your policy and reject your death benefits. 

Will My Life Insurance Premium Drop If I Quit Smoking?

Some insurance carriers do offer incentives such as lower premiums if you stop smoking. One such option is the Quit Smoking Incentive (QSI) offered by John Hancock (covered above). However, there’s usually a waiting period so insurance companies can verify the policyholder has truly stopped smoking. You’ll likely have to undergo several medical exams over a couple of years to achieve the “non-smoker” designation and enjoy a lower premium. 

Methodology

To determine the best life insurance for smokers, we started with a list of 15 popular insurance carriers. We looked for factors like years in business, A.M. Best ratings, policy options for smokers, rider options, ease of access, customer reviews, and coverage limits. 

All of our top choices offer reasonable premiums for smokers and a minimum of an A rating from A.M. Best, which indicates superior financial stability and the ability to pay beneficiaries upon your death.

Article Sources

  1. Business Wire. AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company and Its Subsidiaries. Accessed May 10, 2021.

  2. National Association of Insurance Commissioner. Globe Life & Accident Ins Co

    National Complaint Index Report. Accessed May 10, 2021.

  3. J.D.Power. Life Insurance Customer Satisfaction Flatlines Despite Pandemic Fears, J.D. Power Finds. Accessed May 10, 2021.

  4. A.M. Best Company. New York Life Insurance Company. Accessed May 10, 2021.