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What Makes Me a Smoker for Life Insurance?

Life insurance rates for smokers are higher than non-smokers. The health risks associated with smoking are well documented. But with the changing landscape of vaping and legalized cannabis use in Canada it can actually be a bit confusing as to what constitutes a smoker in the eyes of a life insurance company. Here’s a quick summary of what they look for to determine if you are a smoker or not.

The first thing that you need to consider is that many insurers are looking for sources of nicotine consumption. This is cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco and smoking cessation products like nicotine gum or patches. If your application needs a medical exam that includes any blood or urine analysis they will look for signs of nicotine use in these tests. They will test for nicotine as well as a compound known as cotinine. Cotinine is a chemical that is formed after nicotine enters your body and remains in your system longer than nicotine does. The presence of either nicotine or cotinine in your test results will result in you being treated as a smoker.

As a newer delivery method, many applications aren’t going to ask you about vaping specifically. The long-term health implications of the actual act of vaping aren’t known yet but if you are using it for a nicotine based product you need to expect that you may be classed as a smoker even though you don’t smoke traditional products.

The legalization of cannabis in Canada has also added to the discussion over smoking classifications. In the past test results showing cannabis use resulted in an automatic smoker rating on many policies. This has changed. Provided that there is no nicotine in the cannabis product you use and are someone who is a casual cannabis user, typically in the range of using it 2-4 times a week, you may be able to have a policy issued as a non-smoker. If you are a more frequent user again you may end up with a non-smoker classification but pay extra premiums due to marijuana consumption.

But wait, there is some good news. If you stop using tobacco and/or nicotine products for 12 consecutive months you will be classified as a non-smoker for your life insurance rates. So if you are two months away from being twelve months of no tobacco use, it may be worthwhile to wait it out so that you can get non-smoking life insurance rates which typically cuts the premium cost in half.

Also, if you have an existing policy which has smoker rates and you have not used tobacco or nicotine products for 12 consecutive months, you should reach out to your broker/insurance company because in most cases you can have your rates switched to non-smoking rates for the remaining duration of your life insurance policy. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions regarding this.

Conclusion… At the end of the day it is nicotine consumption that will result in you being classed as a smoker.

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