Friday, February 18, 2011

Life Insurance and a Cigar Smoker

Fancy cigars? Enjoying the occasional stogy might cost you much more than the $150 you paid for that pack of White Owls. That is, it could drown a fortune in extra life insurance premiums.

What does one do to reduce the impact of the habit of smoking cigars on the premiums? Well, most insurers allow you to have a cigar from time to time – usually once per month. Canada Life, for that matter, which tolerates one cigar as often as each week. Unity Life, on the other hand, offers a special cigar rate.

If you are , refrain from smoking cigars for at least a week so there is no lingering cotinine—a nicotine metabolite—in your body. The levels of cotinine in a person is used to measure one’s inhalation of tobacco smoke. Nicotine is “digested” by the body into cotinine, and that has a half-life of approximately twenty hours. This means that the substance’s levels will halve every twenty hours. Past the initial 20 hours, cotinine levels will sink to half, after the next 20 hours to quarter, etc. For these reasons, it is safe to expect any dose of cotinine to be metabolized untraceable after four days.

Insurance premiums for cigar smokers differ sharply from one company to another – and can quite possibly make up $40,000 over the duration of the policy.

As general advice, it is a very good idea to be truthful when applying for coverage. Until a policy has been in force for twenty-four months, the insurer has the right to contest it for misinterpretation or omission of a material detail. The ‘incontestability period’ varies depending on the life insurance company.

Smokers in general are best attended to by a knowledgeable independent broker who understands the underwriting guidelines of a range of insurance companies and keeps up-to-date on all amendments thereto. The same holds true for anyone with pre-existing medical conditions.

Written by L. Marr, Toronto insurance broker and financial advisor. Lorne has been working in life insurance in Canada for over a dozen years.

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