It is great if you stop smoking this year, however don’t assume to be eligible for the finest life insurance prices yet.

Most life insurance providers still regard you a smoker. Hold on, though — better rates are in the offing should you quit the habit for good.

Typically candidates should have refrained from smoking cigarettes for around 12 months to be eligible for nonsmoker rates at most companies. However each insurer approaches the issue a bit differently. And the majority of firms have more than one group for nonsmokers.

Some insurance providers are rigid about how they specify nonsmoker for the ideal rates, not allowing any tobacco use, whilst other firms let applicants qualify for the better nonsmoker prices even if they occasionally puff on a cigar or pipe. Usually, the more time which has passed since you last smoked cigarettes, and the more tobacco products for example cigars and chewing tobacco you eschew, the more affordable the life insurance rates you get.

Some nonsmokers find better rates than others

To be eligible for MetLife’s best rating group, Elite Plus Nonsmoker, for instance, you can’t have smoked or consumed any tobacco for at least 5 years, as per the company’s life insurance underwriting manual. That comprises nicotine gum, patches, nasal spray and also e-cigarettes. The same applies to the next-best rating group, Elite Nonsmoker, except you may smoke up to four cigars per year. For Preferred Nonsmoker, the third-best category, you must not have smoked cigarettes or used nicotine items for the last 2 years, even though infrequent the smoking of cigars and pipes or use of chewing tobacco is permitted. For standard nonsmoker, you should not have smoked or consumed nicotine replacements in the last 1 year.

For all nonsmoker classes at MetLife, a laboratory test for your life insurance medical exam must detect no signs of nicotine use.

Under Mutual of Omaha’s life-insurance guidelines, however, you are entitled to the finest quotes if you haven’t consumed tobacco or nicotine products for 3 years. For the next-best category, you must have abstained for 2 years, and for the third best, 1 year. For all three of those classes, you can smoke up to one cigar per month and be eligible as long as the laboratory test comes back clean. For the next step down — standard nonsmoker — a few applicants who infrequently smoke cannabis may qualify, provided that they haven’t used tobacco for 1 year.

Discount for good intentions

Thinking about giving up? John Hancock Life Insurance lets some smokers who desire to kick the habit obtain nonsmoking rates, at least initially, when they buy specific plans. Named the Stop Smoking Incentive, the feature is available on certain universal and variable universal life policies. If you intend to stop, you get regular nonsmoker rates for the first three years of the policy.

However to continue those nonsmoker rates you have to stop within the first 2 years. Once you’ve kicked the addiction for 1 year, and laboratory tests show you’re free from nicotine, you may apply to be reclassified as a nonsmoker. If you haven’t quit for 1 year by the end of the 3rd year, then you’re regarded as a smoker and your premiums increase.

Rates for nonsmokers vs. smokers

Whether you get term life-insurance, which covers you for a specific number of years, or permanent life insurance, such as entire or universal life, you’ll pay considerably less for coverage if you don’t use cigarettes.

The lowest projected annual premium for a 20-year $500,000 term life policy for a 40-year-old California guy who doesn’t smoke is $348, according to NerdWallet research. As a smoker that same person would pay over four times that amount for the same amount of coverage: $1,515 per year.

Keep in mind you need to meet other health conditions to qualify for the cheapest nonsmoker life insurance prices, like healthy cholesterol and blood pressure.

Life insurance advice for quitters

Take these actions if you’re a life insurance buyer that has quit smoking or is thinking of kicking the habit:

  • Compare quotes from several life insurance companies. A few insurers are more permissive than others regarding nicotine use.
  • Don’t delay purchasing life insurance, leaving your family at risk, until you give up smoking. Find the best-priced policy you can as a smoker and ask about how to become reclassified as a nonsmoker as soon as you’ve quit. This locks in coverage for you, in case you develop other health conditions in the future which make you uninsurable or that make rates really expensive.
  • Enroll in a smoking-cessation course. Many employers and organizations offer them for free, and you may find ideas and resources on the federal government’s Smokefree.gov website.
  • If you purchased life insurance as a cigarette user and then stop, ask your life insurance provider how to be eligible for nonsmoker prices.
  • Don’t lie on a life insurance application regarding smoking. Lying is fraud, and insurance providers have techniques for ferreting out the truth.