|Cigars & Smokers' Rates
Q: I don't smoke cigarettes, but I smoke cigars occasionally. Will I have to pay smokers' rates for life insurance?
Because of the increased mortality risk associated with smoking, smokers almost always pay more for life insurance than their nonsmoking counterparts. Some life insurance companies distinguish between moderate smokers (20 or fewer cigarettes per day) and heavy smokers (more than 20 cigarettes per day) and offer somewhat lower rates for those who smoke less. The recent cigar craze has now raised numerous questions about how to classify cigar smokers. But unfortunately, there is not yet an industry-wide consensus on this issue.
Note: Life insurance companies now ask about the use of any nicotine-containing product, including chewing tobacco.
The ways in which life insurance companies categorize treatment of cigar smokers literally vary from one extreme to the other. A few companies have taken the position that all forms of tobacco are equally harmful, and thus charge cigar smokers and cigarette smokers the same rates. (However, there may be exceptions for very occasional use; for example, less than 12 cigars per year.) Other insurance companies take a middle-of-the-road position, charging cigar smokers more than nonsmokers but less than the heaviest-smoking class. Some insurance companies even consider cigar smokers to be nonsmokers, offering the lower rates typically reserved for those who don't smoke cigarettes at all.
So, if you're a cigar smoker, try calling your insurance agent or doing some research to find the best life insurance rates available. You should probably act quickly, too, as insurance companies could change their rules if clinical research determines that cigar smoking is more dangerous than previously believed.
Insurance companies will typically reevaluate your rates if you quit smoking for at least a year - something to keep in mind if you're more just a part of the cigar trend than a truly dedicated stogie smoker.