If you want to make sure that your family and loved ones are cared for when you’re gone, then it’s vital to have life insurance. However, if you chew tobacco, the process of selecting a plan and an insurance provider can be relatively challenging.
In this article, we’ll go over the various pitfalls and considerations you need to make when trying to get life insurance as a chewing tobacco user. While it’s not impossible, you could be paying more per month, and there might be restrictions regarding what can be in your policy.
Even though getting life insurance for chewing tobacco users is a bit more complicated, it’s well worth the effort. You don’t want to leave your loved ones in a financial bind because you didn’t follow through.
How Chewing Tobacco Affects Your Body
Before we get into the details of how to get life insurance, we want to take a closer look at the health effects of chewing tobacco. You may be aware that smokers are often denied coverage, or they have to pay exorbitant premiums. Chewing tobacco is a little different, although it still comes with a host of health-related problems.
What you need to keep in mind is that life insurers want to minimize risk as much as possible. So, they will want to understand your habit as much as possible so that they can assess the potential that you will need to file a claim sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, chewing tobacco does come with some harmful side effects, each of which can either raise your rates or cause you to lose insurance altogether.
Here’s a breakdown of what chewing tobacco does to the body.
- When you chew, you are getting more nicotine per ounce than you would inside a cigarette.
- All chewing tobacco brands contain multiple carcinogens – ingredients that are known to cause or stimulate cancer.
- If cancer does develop in your body, it will likely form in the mouth, including areas like the tongue, cheeks, and lips.
- Because chewing tobacco contains nicotine, it can become highly addictive.
- Gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss are all side effects of chewing tobacco.
- In many users, chewing can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
One misconception out there is that chewing tobacco is safer than cigarettes. While the impact of chewing is not as significant as smoking, it is not a better alternative. Because of the risks we’ve listed above, and the fact that quitting is so hard for many users, chewing tobacco is still highly dangerous.
How Life Insurance Companies View Chewing Tobacco Users
Thankfully, most insurers won’t write you off simply because you chew. In almost all cases, insurance companies will look at users on a case-by-case basis to determine an individual’s level of risk. To help you understand what it takes to get life insurance as a chewing tobacco user, here are some of the factors they will consider.
As you can imagine, when you get older, the effects of harmful habits such as chewing can take a more significant toll on the body. A chewing tobacco user at 55 will likely be in worse health than one at 25. Typically speaking, once you reach 40, regular chewing habits can significantly increase your premiums.
Duration of Habit
This factor is one of the most crucial for insurance companies, as it provides insight into a couple of different details. First, if you haven’t been chewing for very long, the impact it has on your body will be less than if you’ve chewed for decades.
Second, a shorter time frame may indicate that it will be easier for you to quit. As we mentioned, quitting is a considerable challenge for chewing tobacco users, but it’s far less stressful if you’re still new to the habit.
Frequency and Amount of Chewing
In some cases, those who chew on sporadic occasions may not be hit with higher premiums. For example, if you only chew a few times a year, you might be able to get preferred rates from some insurance companies. Not all insurers are the same, though, so keep in mind that they will vary in how they view your habits.
The other side of the equation is how much you chew. A few dips here and there isn’t as damaging as chewing a whole can every few days. Overall, the more you chew, the more often you do it, the higher your life insurance premiums. In some cases, you may be denied altogether.
Because one of the side effects of chewing tobacco is heart disease and stroke, insurance companies will want to see if your family has a history of developing either or both of these conditions. As you can imagine, if heart disease frequently occurs in your family, being a chewing tobacco user is much more of a risk.
This habit can also complicate or exacerbate other diseases, like cancer, gum disease, or leukemia. Any family history of these conditions may increase your premiums or lead to a denial of coverage.
One of the best things you can do, both for your health and for your life insurance, is to quit chewing tobacco entirely. In most situations, quitting the habit will improve your rates, but it depends on a few things.
- First, how long since you’ve decided to quit. If it’s been a few weeks, insurers will want to make sure that you don’t get back into the habit. The longer it’s been, the better impact it will have on your rates.
- Second, insurance companies will want to evaluate your current health. For example, if you quit six months ago and you’re in relatively good health, your rates may improve, and you could get lower premiums. If you’re already showing symptoms of tobacco-related problems, though, quitting won’t help as much.
If you are a former chewing tobacco user, you will still want to disclose that to your insurance carrier. Even if it’s been years since you last chewed, the side effects could impact your health down the road. It may seem unnecessary to say that you’re a former user, but if the insurance company finds out, it could be disastrous for your coverage.
Taking a Medical Exam
Typically speaking, when trying to get life insurance, you may be subjected to a medical examination. Usually, you will have to fill out a questionnaire to determine your current health and any potential risks (i.e., chewing tobaco).
Once the company receives your answers, they will decide if a medical exam is necessary. For chewing tobacco users, a review is almost always required.
Because of this, it may be tempting to lie on the questionnaire and not disclose your chewing habit. However, this is a huge mistake. If you do have to submit an exam anyway, the physician may discover signs of chewing tobacco, which will undoubtedly lead to a denial of your policy.
Worse, even if you are successful in passing the exam, if the insurer finds out about your habit later on, they will cancel your policy, and they can deny a beneficiary claim. Whenever you get life insurance, there is a two-year window in which the company can cancel your coverage based on new evidence. If your loved one is denied the death benefit, it can be devastating, both emotionally and financially.
Overall, the risk is far too significant to try and commit insurance fraud. Instead, it’s better to be upfront about your health and chewing habits. Usually, being highly detailed and forthcoming to your insurance agent is the best option. That way, he or she can work with you to figure out the right plan for your needs.
Also, be sure to open up about whether or not you’re trying to quit, as that can help your case. Again, what matters most is how long you can go without chewing. But, being upfront about your plans can still be beneficial.
On the other side of things, if you start chewing after you get your policy, you need to notify your agent as soon as possible. If your insurance company discovers your habit, they may charge you back payments for premiums (since you will now be at a higher rate), or they can drop your coverage. Again, hiding your habit is one of the worst things you can do.
How Much Are Life Insurance Premiums for Chewing Tobacco Users?
While the specifics of your plan will differ depending on the company you choose, chewers can expect to pay at least 50 percent more than non-chewers. In many cases, an insurer will still classify you as a smoker. Even though you don’t smoke, there are so many adverse side effects.
In some instances, you could be paying double the rate of a non-smoker, particularly if you’re over 40. Generally, the older you get, the higher your rates, even if you quit recently. That being said, the sooner you can quit chewing, the better off you’ll be.
How to Quit Chewing Tobacco
As we mentioned, one of the best ways to lower your life insurance premiums and get a better rate is to quit chewing altogether. Unfortunately, because of its high nicotine content, this substance is much harder to stop than you may realize. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to try. Here are a few suggestions.
Fake Chewing Tobacco
For many users, a big part of the experience is the chewing itself. Yes, the ingredients and stimulation of chewing can be highly addictive. But, users trying to quit may want to replace the tobacco with something else.
Fortunately, there are tons of fake chew out there. In many cases, these products are flavored to make them more palatable. They also have a similar consistency so that you can trick yourself into thinking it’s the real deal. Also, these fake chews come in tins, so the experience is as similar as possible without the side effects.
Taper Off Your Nicotine Intake
Not all dips come with the same amount of nicotine. There are many options available with lower concentrations. Because nicotine is the most addictive substance in chewing tobacco, tapering off your intake can go a long way toward helping you quit completely.
Don’t Use Other Tobacco Products
In many cases, chewing tobacco users are more likely to try other related habits like smoking. Even the occasional cigar or pipe can still lead to health problems. That is why you should avoid all forms of tobacco when trying to quit. If you smoke and chew, your premiums will be even higher. Also, the chances of getting a policy are even lower.
Comparing Life Insurance Policies
Regardless of your chewing habit, it’s always a good idea to compare rates and policies between insurance companies. As we mentioned, some insurers may look favorably on infrequent tobacco use, while others may decline coverage no matter what.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when comparing policies.
- Use an Insurance Broker – rather than trying to compile rates and plans yourself, outsource the work to a third party. Brokers like NextGen Life Insurance can help you find the best price without the hassle.
- Get a Medical Exam First – many insurers will require a medical exam for chewing tobacco users. It can help if you get one before comparison shopping. In most cases, a recent checkup is sufficient for their needs, and it can streamline the whole process.
- Keep Your Information Organized – when comparing companies, you will be filling out tons of paperwork. By having your details at the ready, you can simplify the experience and analyze rates even faster.
Contact NextGen Life Insurance Today
Getting life insurance for chewing tobacco users is not impossible. With the right attitude and perseverance, you should be able to find the right coverage at a decent rate. Let NextGen Life Insurance help you navigate through the potential pitfalls and setbacks. This way, you can get the peace of mind you deserve.