Life Insurance for the Smoker Author:    Posted under: Life InsuranceLife Insurance questions answeredLife Insurance Ratings and Factors

Smokers are discovering just how high a price their addiction can cost them. They pay higher sales taxes every time they buy cigarettes. They pay higher premiums for health insurance. The resale value of their cars and homes are greatly diminished by the smell of smoke. They are charged more for dry cleaning and teeth cleaning. They also now pay higher rates for life insurance policies. A majority of people agree that smokers should be charged more for life insurance rates than their non-smoking counterparts. But just why do smokers have to pay more for life insurance?

To better comprehend the reason behind the answer to this question, we need to look at what life insurance is about, how they work and how life insurance companies determine their policies’ rates.

Life insurance is designed to protect an insured’s family in the event of his death. It buys the insured peace of mind that even in his death, his family and loved ones will still be taken care of. The function of a life insurance policy is to help beneficiaries financially after the policy owner dies.

Now smoking, as we all know, is bad for you. Studies say that smoking one pack a day takes off approximately 7 years off your life expectancy. A person who smokes may develop diseases such as lung cancer, heart attacks, impotency in men and less fertility in women, emphysema, raised blood pressure, a weakened immune system and stomach ulcers, among others. It is believed that 400,000 people die of smoking a year.

Given that life insurance rates are determined by looking at the incidence of death in a population as a whole, and science shows that people who smoke generally pass away at a younger age, it follows that when you smoke you become a higher risk to insure. Life insurance companies take into account the fact that you are a smoker and the adverse impact it will have on your life expectancy when evaluating the risk it involves insuring you.

If you live in a state where lifestyle discrimination laws do not exist, smoking can affect even your livelihood. Already, some companies prefer to hire nonsmokers. A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management discovered that overall, 5% of employers choose to employ nonsmokers and 1% do not hire smokers. Examples would be the Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan which stopped hiring smokers for full-time positions at both of its Michigan campuses; Alaska Airlines which requires nicotine test prior to hiring; the Tacoma-Pierce County (Wash.) Health Department requires applicants to sign an “affidavit of nontobacco use”; Weyco Inc. which fired four employees for not submitting to a nicotine test; and Union Pacific which doesn’t hire smokers.

The same poll found that 5% of companies charge smokers more for health premiums.

For the moment, trying to argue against paying more for life insurance just because you’re a smoker is a wasted effort. It is an unfortunate fact that smokers will always pay more for life insurance than nonsmokers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that smokers have to pay unreasonably high prices. Shop around and you will definitely find one insurance company that will give you rates that will fit within your budget.



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