Buying life insurance is something of a give and take. Your life insurance provider agrees to pay a sizable sum of money out for your beneficiaries in exchange for two things: you consistently paying your premiums and, just as importantly, you letting them gather some information about your overall health.
By putting a finger on the pulse of your wellness, life insurance providers can get a rough idea of how long you’re going to live. And that lets them financially plan. If you’re probably going to live longer, they have more time during which you can pay your premiums. This helps them to offset the cost of your death benefit. That’s why younger, healthier people pay less for life insurance coverage.
To figure out how healthy you are, most life insurance requires a medical exam. And since you’ll probably have to take a nicotine test for life insurance, chewing tobacco can definitely be a problem. But what’s the connection between chewing tobacco and life insurance? Does chewing tobacco increase life insurance rates? If so, by how much?
Does chewing tobacco affect life insurance?
Long story short: yes. The chewing tobacco-life insurance connection varies from insurer to insurer, though. Some insurance providers will classify chew users as smokers, while others categorize people who use chewing tobacco as nonsmokers. At the end of the day, though, you’re probably going to pay more for life insurance if you chew. And you should be prepared to be categorized as a smoker, which means more expensive life insurance.
But how much does chewing tobacco increase life insurance rates, exactly? We compiled some data to give you a better idea. All of these sample rates are for people of a Standard Plus health rating, meaning they’re not perfectly healthy (e.g., they might have a higher-than-ideal BMI). Our sample individuals are also living in California (the most populous state) with a 20-year term policy and a death benefit of $500,000.
|Age & Sex||Annual Premium for a Non-Smoker||Annual Premium for a Smoker|
Ouch. Clearly, if your life insurance company decides to classify you as a smoker because of your chewing tobacco use, you’re looking at paying a hefty chunk more for your policy.
All of this might leave you wondering if you can simply not tell your insurance company about your chewing tobacco habit. But insurance providers have a way to make sure they see all the skeletons in your health closet: a medical exam. And even if you can skip the exam, you’ll still get asked if you smoke.
Why do insurance companies care if you chew tobacco? After all, nearly 6 million Americans do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Why does chewing tobacco impact life insurance rates?
In other words, if you chew tobacco, you’re definitely not doing your health any favors. And since your chew habit could potentially shorten your lifespan, life insurance companies see you as riskier to insure. They pass that risk onto you in the form of higher premiums.
Does life insurance test for chewing tobacco?
That depends on the type of life insurance you choose:
No-exam life insurance
You have the option to choose no-exam life insurance coverage. But even if you go the no-exam route, you should still tell your life insurance company you chew tobacco.
If you don’t and they find out you lied (say, for example, that it shows up during an autopsy), they could reduce the death benefit for your loved ones or even flatout refuse to pay the benefit at all. That might seem extreme, but it’s a proportionate response to your lie, which amounts to insurance fraud.
Traditional life insurance
You’ll need to undergo a medical exam as part of the process to get most life insurance policies. And a drug test is a standard part of that exam. That includes a nicotine test for life insurance, so chewing tobacco will definitely show up on your insurance company’s radar.
That might leave you wondering if there’s a way to hack your chewing tobacco life insurance blood test or urine test. If the chewing tobacco leaves your system quickly enough, you could simply wait to take your medical exam until it’s gone. But that, of course, begs the question: how long would you have to forgo chew?
How long does nicotine from chewing tobacco stay in your system?
We’ve got good news and bad news. Per Verywell Mind, nicotine usually leaves your system in a measly four days — although because chewing tobacco has more nicotine than cigarettes, it can take a little longer.
Still, though, it’s not safe to assume that you’ll be in the clear in a week.
In addition to the nicotine test for life insurance, chewing tobacco can show up in another way. That’s why insurance companies also test for cotinine, a chemical your body makes after nicotine exposure. And while nicotine might only stay in your blood for about a week, Healthline says that cotinine can stay present in your system for up to three months, particularly if you regularly chew tobacco.
By the time your life insurance medical exam would come back clean, you probably could have kicked your chewing tobacco habit for good, saving you a bunch of money and potentially adding years to your life.
How to get life insurance if you use chewing tobacco
All this said, if you chew, your life insurance company is probably going to know about it, either through the medical exam or through your own disclosures. The good news is that you can still get life insurance if you use chewing tobacco. The bad news is that you’ll probably pay more for your policy for your chew habit.
In order to get the best rate for your life insurance policy, you should look for an insurance company that considers you as a whole person. Even if you chew, for example, if you’re active, eating nutritiously, managing your stress, and getting lots of sleep, you may still be pretty healthy. And that can help you get a more affordable policy.
We can help you out here. At Sproutt, we connect you to life insurance that factors in your whole quality of life. We’ll never categorize you purely as a smoker or nonsmoker. We know that you’re unique, and we think your policy should be tailored to your specific lifestyle and the protections you want to put in place for the people who matter most to you. Our team of life insurance experts can help you find companies that don’t put excess weight on the chewing tobacco-life insurance connection.
To get life insurance even when you chew, contact us. We can help you explore the best life insurance products and companies to find the most affordable one.