Ask the Life Insurance Expert

I recently quit smoking. I think most insurance companies won't consider you a nonsmoker until you've quit for 5 years. Can my policy be adjusted to a non-smoking rate after I'm smoke-free for 5 years?

Congratulations on kicking the habit. You're correct that you need to refrain from smoking for a considerable period of time before life insurance companies consider you to be a non-smoker. Most companies require policyholders to have abstained from nicotine products from two to five years to qualify for non-smoking rates.

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The question of whether your premiums can go down and by how much is certainly worth asking your life insurance agent. Check your policy and contact your agent to find out when you can request an evaluation of your current life insurance premium.

Quitting smoking is among a number of significant health improvements that can bring down life insurance premiums. Others include significant weight loss to achieve a healthy body mass index, overcoming a chronic illness or improved cholesterol and blood pressure readings.

Once your agent agrees it's time for an evaluation, the insurance company will require you to undergo a medical exam. Schedule the appointment at a time when you will be relaxed. During the 48 hours prior to the exam, limit caffeine consumption, which can elevate blood pressure and increase pulse rate, and refrain from drinking alcohol, which can elevate blood pressure and affect your blood test. Avoid vigorous exercise the day before the exam. Exercise can cause misleading increases in cholesterol levels. It's also a good idea to fast 12 hours before the exam to prevent certain foods and beverages from interfering with blood tests.

For more, see Can you hide smoking from life insurance companies? and how to get better life insurance rates after you buy the policy.

Last updated: Jan. 23, 2011
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