Although it sounds like a logical question, asking “Are you a smoker?” in the life insurance quoting and underwriting process can lead to challenges.
Let me clarify. Bob the agent has done a needs analysis and discovered that his client Joe needs $500,000 of life coverage to protect his family. He is ready to call his local BGA for a quote and asks Joe the basic underwriting questions. When he gets to the tobacco use question, Bob asks Joe “Do you smoke?” Joe answers truthfully “No”. What Joe failed to tell Bob is that he “chews” tobacco! You may be seeing the problem here.
Reasons for not asking “Are you a smoker?”
- Most life insurance carriers consider any type of tobacco or nicotine use under a tobacco use rate classification which increases the cost of insurance.
- If the client does dip, chew, smoke cigars, or use a pipe, there are some life insurance carriers that will consider them as non-tobacco users, but it must be admitted from the get go on the application.
- Most carriers consider celebratory cigars as non-tobacco as well but, again, it must be admitted on the application.
- The new Vapes along with nicotine gum are deemed a nicotine product and are considered as tobacco rates with some carriers, so you need to know which carriers are more lenient with these products.
- Marijuana is considered under tobacco or nicotine rates as well. Know what your client is smoking!
What is the proper question to ask? We suggest two questions, “In the last 5 years have you used any form of tobacco or nicotine product? Do you smoke Marijuana?” By doing this, you will save yourself the hassle of going back to the client when it is discovered in the underwriting process.
For more details on how each of our carriers treats tobacco use, simply visit our website under the Underwriting tab and click on Quick Underwriting Guidelines.