If you are on Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), it is likely you will still be considered a smoker by an insurance company, but your exact health class rating and premium amounts will depend on your specific situation.
Since the goal of a life insurance company is to insure people who are in good health and will live for a long time, insurance underwriters see smokers as high risk applicants, and penalize them with higher premiums.
Similarly to a health insurance policy, you can still get a life insurance policy if you are a smoker or if you have recently quit smoking, but there are things you’ll need to consider.
Here is everything you need to know about getting life insurance while on nicotine replacement therapy.
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Nicotine replacement therapy is any form of medication or supplement which reduces nicotine withdrawal symptoms when someone is trying to quit smoking.
Nicotine gums, lozenges, patches, nasal sprays, and inhalers all provide a small, controlled amount of nicotine, which is enough to reduce cravings and the urge to smoke or use chewing tobacco.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than any other drug.
The CDC also states that according to research, nicotine may be as addictive as hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.
For many people who want to quit smoking, nicotine withdrawal is the hardest part of the process.
Common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:
- Cravings for tobacco products
- Feeling anxious, angry, and/or irritable
- Having difficulty thinking or maintaining focus
- Feeling hungry more often and eating more than usual
Using one or more forms of nicotine replacement therapy can increase your chances of successfully quitting smoking by 50%.
There is overwhelming research about the health benefits of living smoke-free.
Some of the most important benefits include:
- Reduced risk of lung cancer
- Lower risk of heart disease and stroke
- Improved circulation and lung function
- Increased fertility in women
The lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke, the better your chances of being approved for life insurance.
Life insurance companies consider you a smoker if you use any of the following tobacco-containing products:
- Chewing tobacco
- Electronic cigarettes
- Nicotine patches
- Nicotine gum
- Prescriptions (like Chantix or Zyban)
Don’t be discouraged that the use of NRT products still classifies you as a smoker. You’re on the road to better health by quitting smoking, and this is what counts.
To improve your chances of success, and to show the life insurance underwriter that you are serious about quitting smoking, work with your doctor to create a quitting plan.
There is no hiding you are a tobacco user.
Nicotine stimulates your body to produce certain chemicals, which can stay in your system for months after you quit smoking.
Even if you are on the lowest dose of NRT products, your body will show signs of nicotine use.
When you apply for life insurance, you will be required to undergo a medical examination to determine your overall health.
This examination will include a urine sample, and possibly a mouth swab; either test will show indications you have used nicotine.
A life insurance underwriter will ask what types of nicotine product(s) you use, and how long you have used them.
A typical company will consider you a smoker if you have used tobacco products within 12 months of your application, but some companies may review usage as far back as five years!
Be sure to tell the underwriter you are using nicotine replacement therapy products, as there is a chance some companies may classify you as a “quitter”, which could put you on the higher end of a health class rating.
If you are an occasional tobacco user, you should be upfront about this on your application or when asked by the underwriter or nurse performing your exam.
Even if you only smoke one or two cigarettes or cigars a month, this can show up on your tests and make you appear dishonest if you claimed to be a non-smoker.
In most cases of using NRT, you will classify as a smoker and receive health class rates specific to smokers.
These health class rates are automatically higher than the rates for non-smokers; some companies charge two to three times the amount charged to non-smokers.
If you are on a doctor-monitored quitting plan and can prove you have been successfully smoke-free for six months, you could receive a Preferred Smoker rating.
You would need to be in very good to excellent overall health, with no major health conditions, diseases, or syndromes.
It is possible to get this rating if you have a few minor health conditions which are not caused by your smoking, or would be otherwise considered low-risk to a life insurance company.
You can expect to receive a Standard Smoker rating if you have not been smoke-free for more than six months, and/or you have any high-risk health conditions.
Even if you have been using nicotine replacement therapy and have the best intentions of quitting, you will still be considered a regular tobacco user.
Ask about applying for an annual renewable term (ART) policy to bypass the expensive rates while you finish your journey to quit smoking. It’ll save you money!
It might seem discouraging to learn taking NRT products can count against you when applying for life insurance, but quitting smoking will benefit both your overall health and your life insurance costs in the long run.
Before you apply for life insurance, you should work with an independent insurance agent who knows about the different life insurance options for smokers.
Experienced agents know which companies look most favorably on smokers, and can help prepare you for the best outcome.
Once you have successfully quit smoking for 12 months, revisit your insurance company and ask if your premiums can be decreased.
They may require another medical exam to determine if there is still nicotine in your body, but if they find you are indeed a non-smoker, you could save a lot of money on your policy.