How long do you have to wait to get a non-smoker rate for life insurance if you have quit smoking?

Each insurance company has their own policy on this and therefore it varies from one company to the next. If you are a smoker when you apply you will get the smoker rate. If you were to quit the next day the "non-smoker" ticker timer starts. Some companies will re-rate you as a non-smoker in one year others two and still others three.

Here are some more variables. Some will simply take your word for it on a signed document others will test you either by blood test or hair follicle to see if you are still in fact nicotine free. This then also includes testing you for Chew, pipe, cigar and even pot, all of which would rate you as a smoker or tobacco. Another variable is that some companies will give you non-smoker rates even if you smoke pipes or cigars.

There are a select few companies that will actually start the "non-smoker" ticker based on the date that you quit smoking. So in other words if you quit 6 months ago and are currently applying for insurance, you would be eligible for a non smoker rate in 6 more months.

Some of these companies will guarantee you a re-rate as a non-smoker rate once you meet their guidelines regardless of current health. Others will actually underwrite you again and even if you are smoke free your health may have changed and because of this they will maintain the smoker rating.

As you can tell there are a lot of variables in this and that is why you should be working with a knowledgeable broker that works with no allegiances to any one company that can point you in the right direction from the start. This will inevitably save you time and money. For instance, if you told me you were intending to quit smoking, I would point you towards the company that might be a few dollars more now as a smoker but has a guaranteed reduction in premium if you quit for a year, rather than pointing you towards the cheapest policy up front that might actually have a 3 year waiting the end that would cost more.

Incidentally, once you are re-rated as a non-smoker, it is now contractual, so even if you did go back to smoking, you will not be penalized.


You definitely shouldn't change your policy and then start smoking again. I am amazed at how many people try to do this. Even if you do quit smoking and get the non-smoker rate if you have nicotine in your system when an unfortunate accident or death occurs they will deny your claim and your beneficiary will not get a penny. It is called insurance fraud. If you are not dead they may then pursue legal action against you. Your choices are to either quit smoking or pay the higher rate.

It will take several months to years for nicotine to be out of your system. The nicotine is processed and expelled from your body reasonably quickly but a by-product called cototine is produced. This also shows up in your test and only comes from nicotine so they know you are lying. Best case scenario I have ever seen was 3-5 months. If you make it that long without smoking you could probably quit permanently. I have one client who claims he has not had a cigarette in two years and still tests positive. You can expect to pay at least 100% more for your policy for the smoker rate.