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Best Life Insurance for Chewing Tobacco Users

Written by Jason Patterson

As you may know by now, life insurance rates are calculated based on your estimated risk to the company that is insuring you.

Basically, the more likely you are to die during the term of your life insurance, the higher risk you pose to them.  As a result, the you will pay a higher life insurance premium in order to mediate this risk.

For chewing tobacco users, life insurance companies consider them to be smokers.  This comes with what is called a tobacco surcharge, or tobacco premium.  

The reason for this is, even though chewing tobacco is not the same as smoking, it comes with many of the same associated health risks, and is still technically ingesting the same deadly chemicals – nicotine and other carcinogens – into your body.

Effects of Chewing Tobacco on the Brain and Body

the effects of chewing tobacco on your brain and body

Just how bad is chewing tobacco for you?  Well, according to multiple studies, chewing tobacco is equally as bad for you as smoking cigarettes in terms of the alphabet soup of chemicals it contains and their ability to cause cancer.  

While the short term effects of chewing tobacco are less dangerous than the long term ones, due to the addictive nature of the substance, any amount of chewing tobacco use can cause life insurance companies to charge higher rates.  When it comes to life insurance, chewing tobacco users can expect to see rates that are at least 15-20% higher, and up to 2-4 times higher than those not using.

In the long term, chewing tobacco can cause mouth, stomach, tongue, and gum cancer.  Atop this, it can cause other gum diseases, tooth and root damage, as well as other health complications such as increased risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

There are also concerns from life insurance companies about the nicotine content that is in chewing tobacco.  Depending on the research you consult, it is commonly believed that chewing tobacco can contain higher nicotine levels than cigarettes do.  This can sometimes result in additional fees, and a higher risk profile in the eyes of an insurer.

How Many Cigarettes Are Equal to a Can of Dip?

If you use an average size pouch of dip, or an equivalent size lip of long cut, and keep it in your mouth for 30 minutes, it is the same nicotine equivalent of smoking 4 cigarettes.

One whole can of dip contains on average about 144 milligrams of nicotine, which is the equivalent of about 80 cigarettes, or 4 packs. While there is not smoke entering your lungs and esophagus, the juices from chewing tobacco enter your bloodstream directly from the cuts made in your lips.  They are also very dangerous for your tongue, and can easily cause harm to your salivary glands, stomach, gums, teeth, and throat.

As far as the overall impact on your body, chewing tobacco is equally as bad as cigarettes. With 28 substances known to cause cancer, and some products using over 3,000 chemicals in their production, it is no wonder that chewing tobacco is equally as bad as cigarettes for your health.

Those who dip are 50% more likely to contract cancer of the throat, tongue, and gums than those who do not.  They also have a significantly higher risk of contracting heart disease, having higher blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and other cardiovascular issues.

Do They Test for Nicotine for Life Insurance?

do they test for nicotine on life insurance tests

Unless you are applying for no medical exam life insurance, you will be tested for nicotine use during the life insurance application process. Given the extremely high premiums for those on no exam policies, unless you are terminally ill, or in very poor health, it is not suggested that you apply for this type of policy.

Before we look into the types of smoking tests used in the life insurance application process, let’s quickly touch on what they are looking for, and how they go about finding it.  

Quickly after using a tobacco product (usually within the first 3 days), our bodies begin to break down the nicotine in order to detoxify.  The liver then begins to transform this nicotine into cotinine.  This is the substance that is actually tested for in the life insurance application process.

So, how do they test for cotinine? These are the most common types of life insurance tests for smokers and tobacco users:

Cotinine Urine Test

Can smokeless tobacco be detected in urine? Yes, it can.  This is usually the most commonly used type of test to detect cotinine.  Results can be accessed in as little as 15 minutes for this type of test.

Cotinine usually stays in urine for about one week for regular users, but can be detoxified in as little as 4 days.  For those who are very heavy users, or in poor health, it can take up to one month for the cotinine to leave their system.

Occasionally, due to some foods and drinks, false positives can result in cotinine being detected in urine.  Because of this, often times a urine test is administered in combination with a blood or saliva test to reduce the likelihood of false positives

Cotinine Saliva Test

Can a saliva test detect chewing tobacco?  Yes. Saliva tests are the second most common type of test used to detect cotinine in the body. Results can be accessed in as little as 6 hours, and can take up to a few days.

Cotinine usually stays in saliva for about one week, and as little as 4 days, just like urine.  Much like with urine, those who are heavier users, or less healthy will often have cotinine in their saliva longer. Cotinine cannot stay in your saliva longer than one month due to the fact that each month, all the saliva in our body is renewed.

Saliva tests can also result in false positives due to certain foods and drinks.  Often times it is also combined with urine tests in order to combat this.

Cotinine Blood Test

Can a blood test detect chewing tobacco? Yes. Cotinine stays in blood for about 4 days also, and up to a month.  Usually, it doesn’t stay longer for 10 days, even in the heaviest users.

Blood tests can also result in false positives due to diet, and are usually combined with other tests like urine and saliva in order to combat this.  

The results of a cotinine blood test are often accessible within a few days of the test being administered.

Cotinine Hair Test

Can a hair test detect chewing tobacco? Yes, hair tests are the most accurate form of testing in order to detect cotinine.

Hair tests can find cotinine in your system from years back.  If you have been growing your hair out for 3 years, then there is 3 years worth of data to tell a story about your habits.

However, it is very unlikely that you will have a hair test administered in the life insurance application process unless you have a very large policy.  The reason for this is that they are very expensive to administer, and require a lot of equipment to do so. Usually, if you policy is less than $2,000,000, you will not have to worry about taking a hair cotinine test.

How long does it take for chewing tobacco to get out of your system?

The cotinine in chewing tobacco products detoxify from the body differently for each individual.  The cotinine detoxification process can take anywhere from one week to one month depending on several factors:

  • Age
  • Exercise
  • How long you have been a user
  • How much water you drink
  • Overall health
  • Diet

More than likely, if you exercise and have a decent diet that includes an average amount of water consumption, your body can process out most cotinine within 4-10 days in your blood, saliva and urine.  At most, for those with less healthy diets, this can take one month. Hair however, can hold cotinine for years.

It is important to note that even if you can pass a urine, blood, or saliva test, the vast majority of insurance companies consider you a smoker if you have used a tobacco product within the last 12 months.  In some extreme cases, this threshold can even be as long as 5 years.

However, many companies are also very reasonable in allowing people who have quit smoking recently, or plan to quit in the future to go through the process of reclassification in order to obtain lower rates.

Usually, in order to do this, you must have a policy for more than 2 years.  Additionally, you must wait 12 months after quitting in order to apply for reclassification. The good news is, if you apply for reclassification and retake the medical examination, provided that you pass without detection of cotinine, you will be able to secure lower premiums for your policy.

What Happens if You Lie on an Insurance Application?

Lying on a life insurance application is never a smart idea.  To start, it is a federal crime. Under U.S. federal law, lying on a life insurance application is considered a misdemeanor, and can result in fines and probation.

On top of this, if you lie, you can also be denied coverage by the company.  Lastly, even if you lie and manage to get through the application, it can still come back to bite you.  If you die from a premature death while your policy is still in place, and the insurance company finds it is related to smoking, your family will not receive any death benefit, and  all your premiums will not be recovered.

The last thing your family needs in an already tragic time in the event of your loss is to be denied the coverage they need as a result of you lying on an application.

Life Insurance for Tobacco Chewers

life insurance for tobacco chewers

Each company treats tobacco use differently.  Some companies are very harsh in their treatment of tobacco use, and determine that any use of tobacco products at all poses a serious health risk.  As a result, they will rate you accordingly, and you will pay a premium that includes a tobacco surcharge.

Some life insurance companies are more lenient when it comes to tobacco use.  They understand that occasional tobacco use, whether this comes in the form of cigars, chewing tobacco, pipes, vapes, or cigarettes is not as dangerous as prolonged continuous use.  

As a result, they offer more reasonable rates for those who only engage in occasional chewing tobacco use.

For those who are regular users of chewing tobacco, life insurance will be more expensive. However, this does not mean there aren’t some life insurance companies who offer superior rates to users.

We have comprised a list of the best life insurance companies for chewing tobacco users in order to steer you in the right direction when finding coverage.

How Does Chewing Tobacco Affect Life Insurance Rate

As I said earlier, chewing tobacco users can expect to pay anywhere from 2-4 times higher rates than those who do not use tobacco products.

This being said, for most people looking for life insurance, not having coverage is not really an option.  Perhaps you have children, significant others, or other people dependant on your income.

Regardless of your situation, there are certain life insurance companies that offer great and affordable coverage options for chewing tobacco users.  Let’s take a look at some of your options for life insurance for tobacco chewers.

Best Life Insurance Companies for Chewing Tobacco Users

We researched the market to find some the best life insurance coverage for chewing tobacco users.  Below are the top 5 life insurance options for chewers. With them, we have also shown the rates for 10, 20, and 30 year term life insurance policies for both males and females who are 30 years of age looking for $500,000 of coverage.

1. Prudential

Term Men Women
10 Year $44.63/mo. $35.88/mo.
20 Year $48.56/mo. $37.19/mo.
30 Year $59.06/mo. $47.25/mo.

Arguably the best coverage on the market for chewing tobacco users, Prudential has slightly higher rates for 10 year term than some of the others who made our list, but crushes them in the long term in terms of affordability. A clear victor, with great coverage, a rich history, and great customer support.

2. Lincoln Financial Group

Term Men Women
10 Year $39.11/mo. $33.34/mo.
20 Year $53.29/mo. $47.25/mo.
30 Year $86.54/mo. $69.65/mo.

Lincoln Financial comes in second on our list, still having great rates compared with the competition. They also have a long history of financial support and paying out claims, and are one of the premier life insurance providers for tobacco users of all kinds.

3. Banner Life

Term Men Women
10 Year $52.03/mo. $40.85/mo.
20 Year $72.58/mo. $58.39/mo.
30 Year $115.67/mo. $85.14/mo.

Banner Life is another life insurance provider that provides superior rates to smokers and tobacco users. They come in at number three on our list, as they do have higher rates than Lincoln Financial and Prudential, but are still a great life insurance option for chewing tobacco users.

4. Transamerica

Term Men Women
10 Year $52.03/mo. $40.85/mo.
20 Year $76.11/mo. $58.48/mo.
30 Year 115.67/mo. $89.44/mo.

Transameria comes in at number four on our list of best life insurance companies for chewing tobacco users. While their rates are slightly higher than the top 3 spots on our list, they are a highly regarded company with great claims history, and a long financial history of customer satisfaction.

5. Pacific Life

Term Men Women
10 Year $54.27/mo. $42.69/mo.
20 Year $73.74/mo. $59.50/mo.
30 Year 122.40/mo. $92.14/mo.

Last but not least on our list is Pacific Life. They have great rates for tobacco users. They offer the option to reclassify as well. While their rates seem high in comparison to our other four on the list, they are still much lower than a vast majority of companies out there.

Why You Should Consider Using an Independent Agent

While these days it is fairly simple to obtain online quotes from multiple providers in the blink of an eye, insurance agents have access to inside information, and can assist in the underwriting process.

Often times, insurance agents are able to help clients secure the lowest rates possible through their in depth knowledge of the more than 15+ health classes applicants can fall under.  On top of this, they have extensive knowledge of insurance carriers, their range of products, and which providers are best for your given financial and health situation.

On top of this, it is usually free to speak with an agent in order to find out what coverage is right for you.  All in all, it just makes sense to talk with an expert about such a long term and expensive decision as purchasing life insurance.  You wouldn’t buy a house worth $200,000 without speaking with an expert, so why buy a life insurance policy worth the same amount or more without doing so?

About Jason Patterson
About Jason Patterson

Jason Patterson has been in the insurance industry for over fifteen years. Starting in 2005, he became one of the first agents to sell medicare supplements online. From that small start, he grew an agency that helped thousands of people with their insurance needs in all fifty states.

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