smoker life insurance - man breaking a cigarette

Smoker Life Insurance and Other Special Cases

When starting a new life insurance policy, a number of factors play into how much a policy will cost and the level of plans available to a consumer. For smokers and other special cases, it can be a bit more complicated.

Since lifestyle and health are undeniably tied to life insurance, some people will face vastly different results once they submit an application for a new policy. In fact, they may even be denied coverage.

Let’s take a closer look at what it means for a prospective policyholder to qualify as a special case and how it can affect their premium.

Speak to a AAA Insurance agent to learn more about your life insurance options.

What It Means To Be a Special Case

Most life insurance providers require a medical exam to determine your rate. If the provider considers you to be a particularly high risk, you may be classified as a special case.

While some providers may simply deny coverage, others may allot a small percentage of their resources to high-risk applicants. Conversely, some companies will specialize specifically in high-risk cases. Essentially, it depends on the providers – many of which have their own classification systems – and the details of each applicant’s case. This might result in a lower-than-average health rating or, as we’ll discuss, higher premiums.

Here are a few of the most common kinds of special cases:


Smoker life insurance involves its share of complications due to the health risks the habit poses. Although some providers may offer different risk classes due to the frequency or type of smoking involved, many others will not differentiate between nicotine-based cigarettes, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

Medical Conditions

Having a chronic or terminal health issue – and therefore a low health rating – is perhaps one of the easiest ways to be designated as a special case. Aside from major concerns like cancer, heart disease and strokes, this could also extend to a wide range of other ailments, including diabetes, asthma and depression. Unfortunately, applicants may have to endure a thorough underwriting process to determine if their health concern will receive a poor health rating.

The Elderly

Because of their advanced age, elderly people (the definition of which may vary from provider to provider) are often considered special life insurance cases. Though it may seem unfair to the policyholder, it’s easy to understand from a business standpoint why this is the case, as the insurance company has a far greater chance of having to yield the death benefit in the near future. For this reason, try to invest in life insurance as young as possible.

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How It Affects Your Premium

Many of the conditions and circumstances that insurance companies consider special cases hinge on the question of an applicant’s overall health and well-being. The more burdened by ailments and medical complaints an individual is, the likelier it is for the provider to have to deliver a costly death benefit to the beneficiary.

When it comes to smoker life insurance, the rate is usually double compared to a non-smoker. To be considered a non-smoker, you must self-attest that you smoke less than a pack a month. If you used to smoke and quit, you are typically considered a non-smoker after a year and may qualify for a lower rate, although a physical may be required to verify.

What You Can Do

It’s no surprise that special cases tend to get assigned higher rates, compensating providers for their increased liability. Other factors – such as age, weight and occupation – can have a similar effect, though to a lesser extent than the special cases outlined above.

However, hope is not lost for policyholders who may routinely be considered special cases. Some insurance companies offer lower-cost policies focusing exclusively on the aforementioned conditions, either individually or as a combination. Under such plans, policyholders would be covered if they were ever to develop the designated condition(s). This presents a middle-ground for those at increased medical risk to obtain some form of life insurance that will account for their greatest concerns, rather than disqualifying them based on it.

AAA offers a no medical exam whole life insurance policy for its members. This coverage is guaranteed to members 60-85 and can help to cover final expenses like burial and funeral costs. Speak to one of our insurance agents to learn more.

Be sure to explore all your options before making any decisions regarding life insurance. An agent can help you to find the best coverage options available to you at the most reasonable rate.

Do you have any other questions about smoker life insurance and other special cases? Ask us in the comments. 

One Thought on “Smoker Life Insurance and Other Special Cases

  1. For what reasons could a current smoker policy holder be denied a rate reduction to nonsmoker if they haven’t smoked or used any form of tobacco for 18 months

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