Best Life Insurance for Smokers in 2022

Life insurance is more expensive if you smoke. MoneyGeek compared policies and gathered sample premiums to help smokers find the best, most affordable life insurance plans available. We analyzed thousands of life insurance quotes for smokers, including coverage options and policy details for how insurance companies classify smokers, so you find the right life insurance policy at a reasonable price.

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Last Updated: 9/21/2022
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Your health, occupation, age, lifestyle and habits are factors used by life insurance companies to determine premiums. If you smoke, vape or use marijuana, chances are you will pay more for life insurance than nonsmokers. Even though life insurance for smokers is expensive, many smokers find the high cost is worth it to protect their loved ones financially if they pass away suddenly.

MoneyGeek reviewed thousands of life insurance companies' guidelines, pricing, financial strength and customer ratings to help you find the best life insurance policy for smokers with affordable rates.

Best Overall for Smokers: State Farm

State Farm

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Several policy and rider options

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Competitive rates for healthy smokers

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Riders vary by policy type

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Rates are only competitive for healthy individuals

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: 97.4
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 820.5
AM Best Rating: A++
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.19

MoneyGeek's Take: State Farm offers competitive life insurance rates for smokers with rider options to customize the policy. This company is our top choice for smokers seeking affordable and high-quality life insurance plans.

State Farm is most well-known for its first-place market share ranking for auto, commercial and home insurance. But the company also has a robust lineup of life insurance products for smokers and nonsmokers. State Farm offers term, whole life, universal life and final expense insurance (for New York residents only) to meet the life insurance needs of most applicants.

Though smokers pay higher rates than nonsmokers, smokers in otherwise good health can get competitive rates that rival those of nonsmokers. To get the best life insurance rates as a smoker, you'll need to have no significant family history of cancer or heart disease. You should also have a clean driving history in the last three years, exercise regularly and have a healthy BMI. When completing the medical exam, cholesterol levels should be below 175 and blood pressure readings less than 115/70.

State Farm’s Instant Answer Term provides up to $50,000 in coverage for 10 years for applicants up to age 50. Term is the cheapest life insurance option for smokers, and State Farm allows you to convert part or all of the term life insurance policy to a whole life policy without having to requalify for coverage.

State Farm has some of the best term life insurance rates for smokers in good health compared to other providers. If you prefer permanent life insurance, State Farm offers several whole and universal life insurance policies for smokers and nonsmokers. You can also choose from any number of riders to further customize your life insurance, depending on the type of coverage you choose.

Rider benefits include waiver of premium for disability, children's term and guaranteed insurability, which allows you to purchase more life insurance at specific ages without requiring a medical exam or health questions.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Term
  • Whole life
  • Universal life
  • Final expense (NY only)

Best Value for Smokers: Transamerica

Transamerica

pros

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Best term life insurance rates for smokers

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Occasional cigar smokers and marijuana users can qualify for nonsmoker rates

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High face amounts

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Must be tobacco-free for two years to qualify for nonsmoker rates

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: 80
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 736.4
AM Best Rating: A
NAIC Complaint Index: 1.30

MoneyGeek's Take: Transamerica offers the best life insurance rates for smokers, with coverage amounts ranging from $25,000–$3 million or more. If value-per-dollar is a priority for you, look no further than Transamerica.

Transamerica offers term, final expense, whole and universal life insurance to smokers and nonsmokers. Transamerica considers anyone a smoker if they’ve used any tobacco product — including e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and gum, and vaping liquid that doesn’t contain nicotine — in the last two years before applying for life insurance.

At Transamerica, smokers can get standard or preferred rates based on age, health and coverage amounts. If you smoke one cigar or less per month, you can still qualify for nonsmokers’ rates, though you have to admit to usage in your application and test negative for cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine. Marijuana users who smoke or ingest 12 times or less per year may be able to get standard nonsmoker rates. The best life insurance rate for regular marijuana users is a smoker’s rate, even for those with a valid prescription.

If you are 50 or younger and apply for less than $100,000 in permanent life insurance with Transamerica, you may qualify for no exam life insurance for smokers. Term life insurance applicants can get nonmedical underwriting regardless of risk class for coverage up to $2 million if between 18 and 45 and $1 million up to age 55.

Life insurance companies can gather data to determine your coverage eligibility and health status using accelerated underwriting technology. Applicants who want the lowest pricing must complete a medical exam to get preferred or better life insurance rates for smokers.

Transamerica also offers several rider options to tailor your life insurance even further. Living benefit riders are available, which provide some of your death benefit to you if you are diagnosed with a chronic or critical illness. You may also qualify for long-term care or waiver of premium for disability riders, depending on your answers to health questions on the application.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Foreign national life insurance
  • Term
  • Whole life
  • Final expense
  • Index universal life

Best Whole Life for Smokers: Nationwide

Nationwide

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Two whole life payment options

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Long list of riders to customize your policy

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Accelerated underwriting available

cons

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Quote and application not available online

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: 88.6
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 785.5
AM Best Rating: A+
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.10

MoneyGeek's Take: With two choices for whole life insurance, along with a range of coverage amounts, riders and underwriting programs, Nationwide offers the best whole life insurance rates for smokers.

If you’re considering whole life insurance, Nationwide has the best life insurance policy for smokers. With Nationwide, you have two options for whole life coverage: Nationwide WL 100 and Nationwide 20-Pay WL. They are both the same product, but Nationwide WL 100 requires payments until age 100 while Nationwide 20-Pay WL only requires 20 years of payments. This means if you choose Nationwide 20-Pay WL, your payments will be higher, but your policy will be paid in full 20 years after making the first payment.

At Nationwide, smokers can qualify for standard tobacco and preferred tobacco rates with each life insurance product. For marijuana users, applicant age and frequency of use determine your risk class. Applicants 19 and older can qualify for preferred tobacco rates using up to four times per week, while applicants 41 and above who use five times or less per month may be able to get standard nontobacco rates.

In the insurer’s cigar program, cigar smokers who smoke 12 or fewer cigars a year may qualify for nontobacco preferred plus rates. Smoking five or fewer cigars per month qualifies you for preferred nontobacco rates.

Healthy applicants between the ages of 18 and 50 applying for $100,000–$2 million in coverage, and those aged 51–60 applying for up to $1 million in coverage may qualify for accelerated underwriting, which is no exam life insurance for smokers. You can also choose from a wide range of riders, including premium waiver, accidental death benefit, terminal illness and guaranteed insurability.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Nationwide WL 100
  • Nationwide 20-pay WL

Best for Marijuana Users: Prudential

Prudential

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Medicinal marijuana users are rated based on health issues, not usage

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Some recreational users may qualify for nontobacco rates

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Daily usage may get you declined for coverage

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Recreational users under 21 are declined coverage, regardless of frequency

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: 82.8
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 756
AM Best Rating: A+
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.15

MoneyGeek's Take: Whether for recreational or medical use, marijuana is the most common drug used in the country. Prudential recognizes this, offering habitual users some of the best life insurance rates.

Until recently, marijuana users had a tough time finding life insurance. With marijuana usage becoming more common and states legalizing recreational use, some life insurance companies have revamped their underwriting guidelines to reflect this change.

Based on data and rates collected by MoneyGeek, we’ve found that Prudential offers the best life insurance for marijuana smokers. The key to getting the best rates with Prudential is admitting to usage on your application, including frequency and type of usage (smoking, pills, vaping, etc.).

Applicants who use marijuana for medicinal use will be underwritten based on the condition prescribed rather than the actual usage of medicinal marijuana. For recreational users, the rating class is determined by the frequency of use. Recreational users 20 and under will automatically be declined for coverage, as will users 21 and over who test positive for THC but didn’t disclose use on the application.

Recreational marijuana users who use it three times per week or less will not be given a rating based on usage; instead, the rest of their health history and application answers will decide their rating. Four to six uses in a week would mean a table B rating, a substandard rating with higher premiums than the standard tobacco class. Seven or more uses would yield declined coverage.

Age, tobacco use, a history of alcohol or drug treatment and past or present illicit drug use would also factor into your life insurance rate with Prudential. When applying for life insurance, you should never lie on the application, especially about drug and alcohol use. Prudential offers regular marijuana users the chance to get competitive life insurance rates, allowing them to potentially qualify for nonsmoker rates, regardless of how much life insurance coverage they need.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Term
  • Universal life
  • Indexed universal life
  • Variable universal life

Best for Cigar Smokers: MassMutual

MassMutual

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Cigar smokers can qualify for ultra-preferred rates

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Several policy types and coverage limits to choose from

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Can get coverage of $10 million or more

cons

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Must complete urine test

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Must meet other guidelines to qualify

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: 84.5
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): 758.1
AM Best Rating: A++
NAIC Complaint Index: 0.07

MoneyGeek’s Take: Cigar smokers have the best chance of getting preferred life insurance rates with MassMutual, allowing up to 24 cigars per year for eligibility. When most competitors restrict cigar use to once per month, MassMutual allows users to consume twice as many cigars without paying standard tobacco rates.

MassMutual will only extend nontobacco rates for regular tobacco users if they haven’t used tobacco and nicotine in the last year. You also have to take a urine test as part of the exam process, with negative results for nicotine. However, if you only smoke cigars, MassMutual offers an exception.

With most life insurance companies, cigar smokers can get competitive rates if they smoke 12 or fewer cigars in a year. But sometimes, you want to light up more than once a month. You can enjoy up to 24 cigars each year and still qualify for its Ultra Preferred and Select Preferred nontobacco rates with MassMutual.

To qualify for preferred underwriting, you have to be in excellent health. This means no history of cancer, drug or alcohol abuse or medical impairments. You also can’t participate in risky hobbies or be in a rateable occupation, which means your health is at risk during the daily activities of your job, like being a mechanic or other service technician.

If you’re healthy and qualify but just enjoy the occasional cigar, MassMutual has the best life insurance policy for smokers. Like with marijuana and cigarettes, you have to disclose your cigar usage. You’ll have to provide a urine sample to prove you’re negative for tobacco, but you may qualify to waive any other medical exam based on the rest of your health profile.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Term life
  • Whole life
  • Universal life
  • Variable universal life

Best No Exam Guaranteed Acceptance: Ethos

Ethos LIfe

pros

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Most qualify for no medical exam life insurance

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Quotes and applications online

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Smokers may get better rates with no medical exam life insurance

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Low coverage limits

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Rider availability depends on the policy

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

MoneyGeek Score: N/A
J.D. Power (out of 1,000): N/A
AM Best Rating: A
NAIC Complaint Index: N/A

MoneyGeek’s Take: Ethos offers life insurance from several companies, ranging from fully underwritten to guaranteed issue life insurance with a fully online and quick application process. Most applicants qualify for no medical exam life insurance, even smokers.

Ethos is a third-party administrator working with some of the top life insurance companies in the industry: AAA, Ameritas, Legal and General America, Principal and TruStage. You can purchase between $50,000 and $1.5 million in life insurance through Ethos 100% online quote and application process. Many applicants are eligible for no medical exam life insurance, including smokers and nonsmokers.

Applicants between 65 and 85 can apply for up to $30,000 in guaranteed issue whole life insurance. There are no health questions or medical exams, and you are guaranteed coverage as long as you can pay the premiums. Ethos also offers simplified issue term and whole life policies, ranging from $100,000–$1.5 million in coverage for applicants aged 20–65. Simplified issue life insurance requires a few health questions but no medical exam.

Many applicants are approved within 10 minutes after a straightforward online application process. If you’re healthy and want more competitive life insurance rates, you can apply for a fully underwritten policy, which requires a medical exam and uses the results plus your health history to determine your risk class. Once approved, coverage starts immediately once you make the first payment.

With Ethos, you get the choice of no medical exam life insurance, simplified issue or fully underwritten life insurance. After answering a few questions, you’ll be provided options based on your eligibility, so you can choose the policy, coverage and company that meet your life insurance needs.

No medical exam life insurance for smokers may offer better pricing than traditional life insurance with full underwriting and a medical exam. If you smoke, a life insurance policy through Ethos may be the best choice for you.

Policy Types Offered:

  • Term life
  • Final expense
  • Whole life

Conclusions & Best Company Summary for Smokers

Finding the best life insurance policy for smokers can be more difficult than nonsmokers. MoneyGeek has reviewed dozens of life insurance companies and thousands of quotes to provide the best options for smokers. The table below shows the best life insurance companies, their MoneyGeek scores, the types of policies they offer and pertinent details for smokers to get the best life insurance rates.

  • Companies
    Overall Score
    Coverage Amounts
    Policies Offered
    Details to Know for Smokers
  • State Farm
    Best Overall

    97.4

    $100k–$10 million+

    • Final expense
    • Term life
    • Universal life
    • Whole life
    • Must disclose tobacco/cigar
      usage on application
    • Risk class determined by underwriting
      and frequency of use
  • Transamerica
    Best Value
    for the Money

    80

    $100k–$10 million+

    • Foreign national
      life insurance
    • Term life
    • Whole life
    • Final expense
    • Index universal life
    • Must disclose tobacco/cigar usage
      on application
    • Risk class determined by underwriting
      and frequency of use
  • Nationwide
    Best for
    Whole Life

    88.6

    $100k–$10 million+

    • Nationwide WL 100
    • Nationwide 20-pay WL
    • Must disclose tobacco/cigar usage
      on application
    • Risk class determined by underwriting
      and frequency of use
    • Healthy individuals may qualify for no
      exam life insurance
  • Prudential
    Best for Marijuana
    Users

    82.8

    $100k–$10 million+

    • Term life
    • Universal life
    • Indexed universal life
    • Variable universal life
    • Must disclose tobacco/cigar usage
      on application
    • Recreational use is denied for applicants
      21 and under
    • Must complete urinalysis to prove no
      nicotine
  • MassMutual
    Best for Cigar
    Smokers

    84.5

    $100k–$10 million

    • Term life
    • Whole life
    • Universal life
    • Variable universal life
    • Must disclose tobacco/cigar usage
      on application
    • Can smoke up to 24 cigars per year for
      nontobacco rates
  • Ethos
    Best for No
    Medical Exams

    N/A

    $10k–$1.5 million

    • Term life
    • Final expense
    • Whole life
    • Most applicants qualify for no medical
      exam life insurance

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How Much Do the Best Policies for Smokers Cost?

Life insurance rates vary widely by company, age and health status. Smokers are no exception and typically pay up to three times the cost of life insurance compared to nonsmokers. To highlight the ranges you can expect to pay for life insurance for smokers, the table below illustrates different coverage options from several top life insurance companies.

As you can see, the more coverage you choose, the more you pay for life insurance. You can get the best life insurance policy and rate when you are younger and healthier, even if you are a smoker.

The Best Policy Costs for Smokers

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  • Company
    $250k Coverage
    $500k Coverage
    $1M Coverage
  • 1.
    AAA
    $100
    $171
    $319
  • 2.
    Mass Mutual
    $84
    $161
    $313
  • 3.
    Mutual of Omaha
    $79
    $149
    $292
  • 4.
    Nationwide
    $85
    $163
    $315
  • 5.
    Progressive
    $84
    $158
    $431
  • 6.
    Prudential
    $126
    $185
    $369
  • 7.
    State Farm
    $80
    $145
    $281
  • 8.
    Transamerica
    $70
    $131
    $242

The cost information above was generated from 20-year life insurance policy quotes for a 40-year-old male smoker who is 175 pounds and in good health.

How Can Smokers Save Money on Life Insurance?

Though life insurance is generally more expensive for smokers, that doesn’t mean you can’t save money on life insurance as a smoker. Here are some ways to save when applying for life insurance:

1

Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to save on life insurance. The length of time you have to be tobacco-free before you’re eligible for nontobacco rates varies by the life insurance company but is at least a year.

2

Bundle Insurance Policies

If you buy life insurance from a company that offers home and auto coverage, you may be able to save with a bundle discount by purchasing more than one policy with the same carrier.

3

Get Group Life Insurance

If your employer offers life insurance, you can save with group rates. Group life insurance provides a set rate for a specific coverage amount and age and doesn’t factor in smoking as part of the rate.

How Long Do You Need to Quit to Be a Nonsmoker?

If you want to get nontobacco rates, most life insurance companies require you to quit for at least a year to be eligible. The length of time varies and could be longer, like with Transamerica, which requires two years before you are considered a nonsmoker.

If you already have life insurance and want to have your rate reconsidered, you have to get approval from the company and complete a medical exam to prove your tobacco-free status. You may have to pay for the medical exam to be reconsidered.

Should You Wait to Buy a Policy if You Are Quitting?

If you don’t have life insurance in place, you shouldn’t wait to buy a policy, even if you're quitting smoking. If you were to pass away while you’re waiting to be considered a nonsmoker, your beneficiary would miss out on the death benefit. Some life insurance companies — including Prudential, Transamerica, Mutual of Omaha and AIG — offer a rate reconsideration, which means it will allow you to prove your tobacco-free status by completing a medical exam at a later date.

If the life insurance company doesn’t offer the option of a rate reconsideration, you can apply for a new life insurance policy once you are considered a nonsmoker. Once you have the policy in place, you can keep your life insurance for smokers rate or cancel it if it’s no longer needed or worth the cost.

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FAQs About Life Insurance Policies for Smokers

Getting the best life insurance policy for smokers isn’t always easy, and you could face challenges during the process. To help you make your decision, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about getting life insurance for smokers.

Methodology

We go the extra mile so that you can feel confident about life insurance content from MoneyGeek. Our life insurance ranking for smokers incorporates a significant number of data points from insurance industry research companies and our unique research, including real policy quotes for smokers and analysis of policy details related to smoker classifications.

To generate our overall rating scores, we incorporated five J.D. Power rating categories, AM Best financial stability ratings, NAIC complaint scores and our own unique MoneyGeek affordability score for smokers, which was created by manually gathering thousands of quotes for a smoker profile. Our overall rating weights were:

  • Cost & Affordability: 40%
  • Product Offerings: 20%
  • Financial Stability: 10%
  • Customer Service & Communications: 20%

Note that we made the conscious decision to assign a lower weight to financial stability scores from AM Best because each company in our rankings is an A or higher, with most companies in the A+ or A++ category.

To determine a winner for categories that require a unique product offering, we did qualitative research to ensure the company provides this product and then chose a winner based on the company's overall rating and affordability score for smokers.

About the Author


expert-profile

Mandy Sleight is a professional freelance writer and licensed insurance agent. She has her property, casualty, life, and health licenses and has been working in the industry since 2005. Mandy has worked for well-known insurance companies like State Farm and Nationwide Insurance, and most recently as the Operations Coordinator for a start-up employee benefits company.

Mandy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Baltimore and her Master in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. She uses her vast knowledge of the insurance industry and personal finance combined with her writing background to create easy-to-understand and engaging content to help readers make smarter choices with their budget and finances.


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