How Do Life Insurance Companies Test For Nicotine?

Insurers require medical testing to identify regular smokers and set coverage prices. Nicotine can be found in your blood, urine, hair, and saliva in trace amounts. The amount of time nicotine lingers in your system is determined by how often you smoke, your age, and your overall health.

Does nicotine show up on life insurance test?

Nicotine tests are commonly used to obtain life insurance. Life insurance companies, on the other hand, don’t just look for nicotine. Cotinine is an alkaloid produced in the body after nicotine has been metabolized, and it serves as a marker for nicotine usage. So, if you’re curious about a cotinine test, life insurance companies are likely to look for it.


Underwriting assigns candidates to one of two categories: tobacco risk or non-tobacco risk. Smokers who smoke cigarettes on a regular basis are considered high-risk insurables, therefore if you apply for life insurance as a cigarette smoker, you’ll almost certainly be classified as a tobacco risk.


Some life insurance companies may give you a break if you just smoke cigars on occasion. However, you are only allowed to smoke a few cigars every year. Many life insurance companies don’t distinguish between occasional cigar smoking and regular cigarette smoking.


In most cases, life insurance companies do not distinguish between vaping and normal cigarette smoking. Expect your provider to label you a smoker if you use e-cigarettes or vaping goods, same as you would if you used traditional tobacco.

Smoking cessation products

Nicotine gum and patches, which are used to assist people quit smoking, nevertheless leave cotinine in the body. Even though these items do not contain tobacco, you will most likely be categorized as a tobacco risk if you use them.

Q: Why do insurance companies make smokers and other tobacco users pay more than people who don’t use these products?

A: Tobacco users pay higher life insurance rates than non-tobacco users for a variety of reasons. The main explanation is that smokers are more likely than non-smokers to die, and to die at a younger age. As a result, an insurer will almost certainly have to pay out a benefit sooner than they would for non-tobacco users. As a result, smokers’ insurance rates are frequently higher.

Q: Why did my life insurance come back “smoker” even though I don’t smoke regularly?

A: There are a few options available here. One is that a test you took prior to your application’s approval found nicotine or cotinine in your system. Request a retest if this is the case, but you do not smoke or use tobacco.

It’s also likely that when you applied, you stated that you had used tobacco products within the previous six to twelve months. Life insurance companies frown on a variety of tobacco products, not only cigarettes. You may be charged the “smoker” rate if you admit to using any of the following substances:

Q: I currently pay the smoker’s rate for life insurance. If I quit, how long does it take before I can be re-tested and have my premiums reduced? Also, what can I expect to happen during this re-evaluation?

Unfortunately, a lot depends on the insurance provider that holds your coverage. Some employers mandate a six-month tobacco-free period. Others, on the other hand, demand that you refrain from using tobacco products for a year or even longer. Furthermore, depending on the type of tobacco you smoke, this period may be longer or shorter.

What to expect during your re-evaluation is also determined by the company. Before adjusting your premium, most companies test your blood, saliva, or urine for traces of nicotine or cotinine in your system.

Q: Do life insurance companies randomly test for tobacco use?

No, it isn’t. Before approving your application, they will most likely test your blood, urine, or saliva (through a mouth swab). If you’ve recently smoked or used other tobacco products, those tests will detect nicotine in your system. Any cotinine in your system will also be detected by these tests.

Q: How long does nicotine stay detectable in your system?

A: Instead of nicotine, most life insurance tests screen for cotinine. This is due to the fact that the former can be detected in the system for a longer period of time than the latter. The length of time cotinine can be detected in your system is determined by two factors. The first is the type of tobacco you use. The type of test you take is the other factor.

Cotinine, for example, leaves the bodies of menthol cigarette smokers faster than non-menthol cigarette users. In addition, when it comes to identifying cotinine in your system, urine tests are more sensitive than saliva and blood testing.

If you want to be sure it’s out of your system, don’t use cigarettes for a week before testing.

Q: What does “preferred tobacco” mean in insurance terms?

A: Your answers on the life insurance application form place you in one of several “risk classifications.” “Preferred best” is the most ideal risk category. That you’re in good health and don’t have a history of health problems in your family. It also implies that you refrain from engaging in any high-risk activities or hobbies. Other risk categories include “preferred,” “standard,” and “sub-standard,” as well as “preferred tobacco,” which you stated. If you’re in the “preferred tobacco” category, you’re generally healthy yet occasionally smoke or use tobacco products.

Does life insurance check for nicotine or tobacco?

You’ll pay more for coverage as a smoker than as a nonsmoker. During the application process, the insurance provider will inquire about nicotine use. If you’re looking for life insurance that needs a medical exam, they may conduct a nicotine test to see if it’s present in your system.

What if you lie about smoking on life insurance?

  • If your insurance company discovers that you lied about your smoking habits on the application, you will be classed as a smoker.
  • If an autopsy reveals any smoking-related ailments, the insurance company may reject the death benefit and refuse to pay your survivors.
  • Ensure that your insurer is aware of your smoking habits and that you pay the extra rates to avoid losing your family’s health benefits.

What is considered a smoker for life insurance?

So, what is “smoking”? Cigarettes are a clear contender. When it comes to life insurance, there are a variety of “nicotine delivery methods” that can label you as a “smoker,” “tobacco user,” or “nicotine user”:

  • Replacement therapy for nicotine are available (patches, lozenges, gum, inhalers, nose sprays)

Marijuana users are sometimes referred to as smokers, depending on whether they use it on a regular basis or not.

Regular cigar smokers are commonly referred to as “smokers.” However, if you smoke cigars occasionally, such as once or twice a month, many life insurers will give you a non-smoking premium.

Each life insurance company determines whether or not you are a “smoker,” and the criteria can differ dramatically. Consider the following scenario:

  • When it comes to cigar smokers, Prudential is often forgiving. If you haven’t smoked in 12 months, you are considered a nonsmoker, although you can still smoke a pipe, cigar, or chew tobacco. You might not obtain the best non-tobacco prices, though.
  • If you’ve used any of these in the last 12 months, Legal & General America will consider you a smoker: Cigarettes, pipes, smokeless tobacco, chewing tobacco, nicotine patches and gum, electronic cigarettes, and vaping are all nicotine replacements.