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Smoking and Texas Life Insurance Rates

There are many variables that are evaluated to determine a premium rate for Texas life insurance.  The applicant cannot directly control some of these variables such as family health history or age.  Lifestyle choices such as piloting aircraft or parachuting affect rates.  Another variable that affects premium is a riskier occupation such as oil field employee, a deep sea welder, or a structural steel worker.  The fourth factor that determines premium is the applicantís overall health, with tobacco use being one of the principal factors that can impact premium.

The occasional tobacco user understands that if an individual uses a pack of cigarettes each day, a higher premium should be applied.  But should a higher premium be charged if a few cigarettes are smoked weekly, or if cigarettes are used only when alcohol is consumed or other circumstances that trigger a need for tobacco?  Any form of tobacco, with limited exceptions, will result in a higher premium.  Also, if tobacco use has been stopped within the past twelve months, the applicant will still be classified as a tobacco user and will be subject to a higher premium.  When considering tobacco use, life insurance considers one cigarette to be the same as 1,000 cigarettes. 

The only exception, with a limited number of carriers, is cigar smoking, which does not carry the same rate-up as other forms of tobacco use.  Most carriers that do not rate-up for cigar use limit consumption to three or four cigars per year, and even a fewer number of carriers do not address the frequency of cigar use.

Tobacco users are subject to premiums that vary from preferred tobacco user to standard tobacco user to a rating that is significantly higher than both.  The final premium for a tobacco user will greatly be affected by the applicantís overall health.  Since rates have already been adjusted for tobacco use the applicant should identify how overall health and family history will impact the Texas life insurance premium before going through the tedious application process.

Consumers frequently indicate no tobacco use, even though the applicant may be a light tobacco user or has not used tobacco in several months.  The applicant indicates no tobacco use to avoid paying higher premiums even though the life insurance companies will most likely conduct a physical exam.  What the applicant is overlooking is that if medical records are requested, tobacco use during the past twelve months will be reflected.  If the applicant can pass the exam and current medical records are not requested, he may assume he can apply for the lower non-tobacco use premium.  The reason not to answer the tobacco question erroneously is that a policy holder may be subject to insurance fraud if the insurance carrier identifies the error within two years of the policy effective date; and the carrier can rescind coverage.  Texas life insurance carriers under the most fraudulent circumstances can withhold payment of the death benefit to the beneficiary or can deduct the premium difference from the death benefit.  The decision not to respond accurately to the tobacco use question results in a false sense of security because the policy holder is paying for life insurance coverage with a tenuous death benefit. 

In conclusion, premiums charged for tobacco use are very complicated.  The most accurate method of determining premiums when tobacco is involved is to contact a licensed Texas life insurance agent.  The agent can help get the best rate by evaluating the current variables, including medical condition and tobacco use, and identifying a carrier that will fairly price the premium based on these factors. 


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