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Compare life insurance for smokers in Canada

You can expect to pay higher life insurance premiums until you kick the habit. Here are some life insurance policies for smokers.

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Name Product Types of Insurance Coverage Range Issue Ages Medical Exam Required Province Availability
PolicyMe Life Insurance
Term Life, Critical Illness
$100,000 - $5,000,000
18 - 75
Get fast and affordable term life insurance. Personalize your policy details and get an estimate price within seconds. No phone call, meeting or paperwork required. Get an instant decision.
RBC Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 70
Select from two unique RBC term life insurance plans to get flexible and affordable coverage that suits your lifestyle and budget. Get a free quote through Walnut.
Whole Life, Term Life, Universal, No Medical
$25,000 - $25,000,000
18 - 75
PolicyAdvisor is a digital life insurance brokerage that has partnerships with 20 insurers in Canada.
Smoking not only affects your health in the long run, but it also raises your life insurance rates. Your premiums can be 50-100% higher compared to a nonsmoker, unless you decide to quit smoking and reapply after you’ve been tobacco-free for a year or two.

Can I get life insurance if I smoke?

Yes, but you’ll likely pay a higher premium compared to nonsmokers. When you apply for coverage, your insurer will ask questions to figure out whether to classify you as a smoker or nonsmoker. It doesn’t matter if you smoke socially or all the time — if you use tobacco, you’ll be categorized as a smoker under underwriting guidelines.

For life insurance companies, smokers are defined as people who currently use nicotine in any form. This includes:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Vapes and electronic cigarettes
  • Nicotine patch or gum
  • Marijuana

Does it matter how often I smoke?

It depends on the insurer. Some insurers will give you the smoker’s rate if you’ve had even one cigarette within the past 12 months. However, others will classify you as a “non–tobacco user” as long as you smoke under a specified number of cigars per week or per month. When you’re comparing insurers, be sure to look into how lenient they are when it comes to occasional cigars.

What’s the best life insurance for smokers?

The best policy comes down to your needs and budget. Here are some good options:

  • Term life insurance. The simplest policy, term life insurance offers life insurance coverage for a specific length of time, like 10, 15 or 20 years, or to a specific age, like 65. It pays out a guaranteed death benefit when you die.
  • Permanent life insurance. If you want to treat your life insurance policy as a cash asset, look into a permanent policy, like whole life. These policies provide lifelong coverage and build cash value over time — but the premiums can much higher than term life, and even higher for smokers.
  • Simplified issue life insurance. If you’d prefer to skip the medical exam, you could apply for a simplified issue policy. You’ll still need to fill out a health questionnaire, but most people are approved for coverage.

How much is life insurance for smokers?

Since smokers are seen as high-risk, they can expect to pay more for coverage. Generally, smoker’s rates can be 50-100% higher than the standard rate — but some insurers are more lenient than others.

When determining your rate, your insurer will look at the following factors:

  • If you currently have nicotine-related . Are you a occasional or heavy smoker? Insurers will want to know how many cigarettes or packs you smoke a week or month. They’ll also assess the way you consume nicotine, whether it be chewing tobacco, cigarettes, cigars or a nicotine patch.
  • How long you’ve been smoking. To make an accurate assessment of your risk levels, underwriters will ask how long you’ve been a smoker. The longer you’ve been a tobacco user, the higher the risks for critical illnesses related to smoking.
  • When you quit smoking. You’ll only be classified as a nonsmoker if you haven’t had nicotine in the last at least 1 to 2 years.

Smoker vs nonsmoker life insurance premiums

There’s a distinct difference when it comes to the price of life insurance premiums for a smoker or nonsmoker. For example, here’s what monthly premiums could cost for a male buying a 20 year term policy with $500,000 worth of coverage who is generally in good health:

AgeNonsmokerSmokerGet your personalized quote

*Based on sample rates from PolicyAdvisor, August 2020.

Why do smokers pay more for life insurance?

Smoking is associated with health risks and complications, so insurers charge more for coverage because there’s a higher chance they’ll need to pay out your policy. These are some of the stats to support that logic:

  • Smoking can have a direct correlation with heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease.
  • Tobacco-related diseases cause more deaths in Canada than car accident related-deaths in both Canada and the US combined.
  • The risk of dying from heart disease because of smoking can be tripled for a middle-aged person.

However, if you put down the cigarettes for good by the time you’re 40 years old, you can decrease the risk of dying from diseases related to smoking by nearly 90%.

Can I get life insurance if I smoke marijuana?

Generally yes, but it depends on your insurer. Because the government of Canada legalized the use of cannabis, insurance companies have had to reevaluate how they assess the insurance risks of cannabis users. In prior years, insurance companies placed marijuana users in the same category as smokers – resulting in much higher premiums. Now, only cannabis users that exceed the weekly limit set by the insurance company could fall under the smoker category.

How to get life insurance if I smoke pot

How do I get affordable life insurance if I’m a smoker?

Here are some steps you can take to lower your premium.

  • Kick the habit. The first and most logical step to reduce your premium — and improve your health — is to quit smoking as soon as possible. If you’ve quit for at least 12 months, life insurance providers will begin to view you as a nonsmoker and you should be able to find cost-effective coverage.
  • Shop around. Compare rates and policy features from a range of insurers. Underwriting guidelines vary between insurers, so you may be able to get a much lower rate by doing a little more research.
  • Reassess your policy. If you bought life insurance when you were a smoker, reach out to your insurer to see if they’ll review your policy now that you’ve quit. If they aren’t willing to reduce your premiums, another insurer may be able to offer you a more competitive price for coverage.
  • Enlist the help of an insurance agent or broker. They know the market, so they can help you to find the provider and policy that best meets your needs and budget. They can also explain the features and benefits of different life insurance plans, and answer any questions you might have.

Bottom line on life insurance for smokers

You can still get life insurance if you’re a smoker — but you can expect to pay a lot more for coverage. To get the best possible rate, compare life insurance companies and consider working with an agent or broker who specializes in high-risk applicants.

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