Best Life Insurance for Smokers

John Hancock offers quit-smoking-incentive programs for the best rates

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There’s a reason 12.5% of Americans still smoke, even with the known health risks; it’s tough to quit. And you may need to get a life insurance policy to protect your family while you’re still using nicotine. Smoking doesn’t preclude you from getting life insurance, but it can make your rates significantly more expensive, especially if you’re also in poor health. But some life insurance companies are friendlier to smokers than others. There are affordable options available, and you can even lower your rate if you quit in the future. 

If you’re a smoker in good health, you may be able to buy a term policy online. But if you’re in poor health or want permanent coverage, it’s best to call an agent directly to walk you through your options.

Best Life Insurance for Smokers

Why Trust Us
91
Companies reviewed
55
Features considered
5,005
Data points analyzed
We collected over 5,000 data points from 91 life insurance companies to measure financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, and the overall buying experience. We then evaluated each company based on 55 metrics to develop unbiased, comprehensive reviews.

Best for Smokers Who Plan to Quit : John Hancock Life Insurance


  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros
  • You can request a lower rate after your second policy year if you quit

  • Unique wellness program that rewards you for making healthy choices

  • Above-average customer satisfaction ratings

  • Few customer complaints

Cons
  • No online quotes

  • Most riders cost extra and selection is limited

Why We Chose It

If you buy a term or universal life insurance policy from John Hancock, you may be able to get a lower rate after you quit without applying for a new policy, provided your health is otherwise unchanged. You can request a rate revaluation anytime after your second policy year once you’ve been nicotine-free for at least 12 months. Some policy types also come with the Quit Smoking Incentive, which allows smokers in good health to snag nonsmoker rates before they quit, and provide evidence of having quit for at least 12 months to maintain those rates after year three. 

John Hancock’s Vitality program also rewards you for making healthy choices and provides savings on fitness devices and apparel, and nutritious food. You can opt in for the paid-version for $2 per month, which can save up to 25% on your premiums for healthy habits like going to the gym. 

John Hancock has an above-average customer satisfaction ranking in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, and far fewer complaints with the NAIC than expected over the last three years. And you can count on the company’s ability to pay claims, since it has an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating with AM Best. Most policies come with a terminal illness rider, and you can elect to add a rider for critical illness that will not reduce your death benefit if you use it (this is uncommon). 

However, you’ll need to speak with an agent to get a quote and apply. And the company provides fewer living benefit riders compared to many of its competitors, such as riders for chronic illness or critical illness at no upfront cost. 

Most Affordable : Haven Life


  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros
  • Best rates for smokers and non-smokers of top insurers

  • Completely digital application process

  • Instant decision and instant coverage for smokers up to $1 million

  • Easy-to-navigate website

Cons
  • Permanent policies are not available

  • Limited riders

  • Term policies are non-convertible

  • Low maximum issue age for term policies

Why We Chose It

Haven Life outdoes most other companies with its easy-to-use and incredibly informative website. The life insurance buying experience is designed to take place entirely online, meaning you don’t need to reach out to an agent to get a quote or apply. Plus, many applicants are approved instantly and coverage starts the same day. What’s more, you don’t even pay extra for all this convenience. Haven Life consistently has the best pricing on term policies for smokers and non-smokers alike. 

But if you want permanent coverage, you’re out of luck. Haven only offers term life insurance. And you can’t convert that term coverage to a permanent policy later, like you can with most other insurers. Few riders are available for customization, and policies aren’t available if you’re 65 or older.  Haven Life is a MassMutual company and policies are issued by either MassMutual or its subsidiary C.M. Life.

Best for Living Benefits : Transamerica


  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros
  • Three living benefits riders included with some policies

  • Good pricing for term policies for smokers

  • A variety of policy types, including final expense coverage

  • Up to $2 million in no-med-exam coverage available

Cons
  • Poor customer satisfaction ranking with J.D. Power

  • More customer complaints than expected

Why We Chose It

Transamerica offers well-priced term life insurance to smokers and no-medical-exam policies to eligible healthy applicants for coverage up to $2 million. Also available are whole life, indexed universal life, and final expense policies. Most policies include a terminal illness rider, and some include  terminal, critical, and chronic illness riders, such as the Trendsetter LB term policy. 

If you’re a smoker in poor health looking for permanent coverage, consider Transamerica’s final expense policy, which offers a higher coverage limit than most companies we reviewed. You can get up to $50,000 in coverage without a medical exam, and some policies include a nursing home benefit at no upfront cost. Note that some policies have a graded death benefit period, which means your beneficiaries won’t receive the full death benefit if you die of natural causes within the first two years. 

Transamerica received an A (Excellent) financial strength rating from AM Best. However, Transamerica has some issues with customer satisfaction, including a below-average ranking in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study. And over the last three years, the insurer has had more complaints with the NAIC than expected given its size. It’s a good idea to also get a quote with Banner Life Insurance, which returned similar pricing on term policies.

Best for Smokers in Excellent Health : Ethos Life Insurance


  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros
  • Good rates for smokers in excellent health with no other rate-impacting issues

  • No medical exam required for up to $2 million for most applicants

  • Streamlined online application with instant decision possible

Cons
  • Few customization options

  • No term conversion options

  • Maximum issue age is 65 for term coverage

Why We Chose It

If you’re under 65 and in excellent health with no other issues that might affect your rates (such as a poor driving record, a low credit score, or risky hobbies or lifestyle choices), Ethos may be able to offer you cheaper term coverage than many other companies. And you may not need to take a medical exam if you’re applying for $2 million in coverage or less. We also love the user experience of the Ethos website, which offers online quotes and a streamlined application process. Many applicants get an immediate decision and coverage can start the same day. 

The underwriters for Ethos also have great financial strength ratings. Term policies are underwritten by Legal & General America, which has an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best. Guaranteed issue whole life policies—an option for smokers in poor health—are underwritten by CMFG, which has an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best. Furthermore, Ethos has excellent customer service reviews on third-party websites like Trustpilot. 

However, Ethos term policies offer few riders, so you won’t have a lot of options. And you won’t be able to convert your term policy to a permanent one later on if you want to keep your coverage. 

Best for Guaranteed Issue : Mutual of Omaha


  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros
  • Whole life coverage is guaranteed acceptance, regardless of health issues

  • A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best

  • Excellent customer satisfaction rating from J.D. Power

  • Online quote and application (for guaranteed issue policies)

  • Some policies include three living benefits

Cons
  • Two-year graded death benefit on guaranteed issue policies

  • No online application for term policies

Why We Chose It

If you’re over 45 and you’re a smoker in poor health, you may not qualify for a traditional life insurance policy. If that’s the case, Mutual of Omaha offers a guaranteed issue policy, and you can’t be denied coverage. You can apply online and get coverage up to $25,000, but note that like most guaranteed issue policies, this one comes with a graded death benefit. That means if you die in the first two years from any cause besides an accident, your beneficiaries won’t receive the full death benefit. They’ll get the premiums you paid returned plus 10%. This type of policy is also known as a final expense policy or burial insurance.

Mutual of Omaha also offers term, universal life, and indexed universal life policies. Some of these policies include three living benefit riders at no upfront cost for terminal, critical, and chronic illnesses. The company has an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best and was ranked 5th out of 21 companies in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study. Mutual of Omaha received about the expected number of complaints with the NAIC over the last three years given the company’s market share. 

Best for Cigar Smokers : MassMutual


  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros
  • Cigar smokers may not be classified as regular smokers

  • Highest financial strength rating available in the industry

  • Very few customer complaints for a company of its size

  • No-medical-exam coverage up to $3 million available

Cons
  • Offers fewer riders than some other life insurers

  • Doesn’t accept credit card payments

Why We Chose It

While many insurance companies place cigar smokers in the same class as cigarette smokers, MassMutual recognizes the difference between having an occasional cigar and smoking a pack a day. People who smoke 24 cigars per year or fewer and have a negative urinalysis specimen for nicotine can qualify for ultra-preferred rates if their health qualifies them. You’ll need to disclose your cigar use on the application and you can’t have tested positive with another carrier. 

MassMutual was our runner up for the best life insurance company of 2022 due to its excellent third-party ratings, financial strength, no-medical-exam options, and long history of paying dividends to eligible policyholders. The company received an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best and has an above-average ranking in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, along with far fewer customer complaints with the NAIC than expected given its size. 

One drawback to MassMutual is that the company offers fewer customization options than some other providers. MassMutual also does not accept credit card payments.

Best for Marijuana Smokers : Prudential Life Insurance


  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations. A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: No
Pros
  • People who use marijuana three times per week or less may qualify for non-smoking rates

  • No-medical-exam coverage up to $3 million

  • Most policies include benefits for terminal illness, nursing home stays, and organ transplants

Cons
  • Poor J.D. Power ranking

  • Expensive term coverage

Why We Chose It

Prudential is accommodating of most marijuana smokers, allowing applicants who smoke three times per week or less to qualify for non-smoker rates. Just be sure to admit you use marijuana on your application, or you could be denied coverage. 

Prudential offers a variety of universal life insurance policies and a few term policies to choose from, but no whole life insurance. Most policies include the Living Needs Benefit, which allows you to access a portion of the death benefit while you’re living if you need an organ transplant, are diagnosed with a terminal illness, or are confined to a nursing home. No-medical-exam life insurance is also available for up to $3 million in coverage. 

Prudential has an A+ Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, which illustrates a superior ability to pay claims to policyholders, and fewer complaints with the NAIC than expected given its share of the market. But the company received a below-average rating from J.D. Power in the 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study.

Compare the Best Life Insurance for Smokers

Overall Rating Best For
AM Best Rating
AM Best is a credit rating agency that assigns insurance companies a letter grade from “A++” to “D.” A company’s grade indicates its ability to pay its claims and honor its financial obligations.
Term Life Sample Cost
Policy Types
Accepts Credit Cards
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John Hancock Life Insurance Best for Smokers Who Plan to Quit A+ N/A Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Variable Universal (VUL) No Get A Quote
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Haven Life Most Affordable A++ $22.91/month Term Yes Get A Quote
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Transamerica Best for Living Benefits A $32.09/month Final Expense, Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Whole Yes Get A Quote
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Ethos Life Insurance Best for Smokers in Excellent Health A+ N/A Final Expense, Term Yes Get A Quote
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Mutual of Omaha Best for Guaranteed Issue A+ $28.38/month Final Expense, Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Universal (UL) Yes Get A Quote
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MassMutual Best for Cigar Smokers A++ $26.97/month Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL), Whole No Get A Quote
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Prudential Life Insurance Best for Marijuana Smokers A+ $31.90/month Indexed Universal (IUL), Term, Universal (UL), Variable Universal (VUL) No Get A Quote
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*Quotes above are examples of what a 40-year-old in excellent health might pay for a 30-year $250,000 policyGet life insurance quotes from multiple companies to find your best rate.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for cheap, quick-issue term coverage, consider Haven, which offers some of the most affordable rates to people who use nicotine, as well as Ethos. If you’re planning to quit down the road, you might pay significantly less over the life of your policy with John Hancock. Older smokers in poor health should consider the guaranteed issue policies at Mutual of Omaha and Transamerica, while cigar and marijuana smokers should look to companies that won’t classify them as smokers at all, such as MassMutual and Prudential, respectively. If you’re hoping for a host of living benefits, like critical, terminal, and chronic illness riders, start with quotes from Transamerica and Mutual of Omaha.

Educational Information

Can I Get Life Insurance if I Smoke?

Yes. Provided that you’re in good health, you can purchase any type of life insurance as a smoker. You’ll just pay rates that are significantly higher (unless you qualify for a quit-smoking-incentive program). If you have a lot of health issues, you may only qualify for a guaranteed acceptance policy, which comes with lower limits and higher rates.

How Much Is Life Insurance if You’re a Smoker?

That depends on whether smoking has impacted your health and whether there are other risk factors influencing your rate. But in general, you can expect to pay about three to four times more for a policy than a nonsmoker in excellent health. If you have health issues, you’ll pay even more. Life insurance rates also increase dramatically with age. Below are sample rates you may pay for a 20-year, $250,000 term policy if you are in excellent health.

   Male  Female
Age 25 Nonsmoker: $13
Smoker: $43
Nonsmoker: $12
Smoker: $32
Age 45  Nonsmoker: $29
Smoker: $127 
Nonsmoker: $23
Smoker: $87 
Age 65  Nonsmoker: $221
Smoker: $723
Nonsmoker: $161
Smoker: $527 

Which Term Life Insurance Is Best for Smokers?

Whether you’re a smoker or not, you’ll want to look for a term policy that has the features you want and also fits into your budget. But because smokers pay astronomically higher rates, they should be especially diligent about comparing quotes, considering available living benefits, and researching quit-smoking incentives. If you’re a cigarette smoker, there are a few companies we can recommend for term coverage. A few of these include Haven, John Hancock, Ethos, and Mutual of Omaha.

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance for Smokers

In order to compile our list of the best life insurance companies, we developed a comprehensive life insurance methodology. We started off by researching what consumers want from life insurance companies, and for that, we looked to third-party consumer studies, including J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Life Insurance New Business Study and the 2021 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA. 

With those findings in mind, we gathered more than 50 data points on 91 life insurance companies, including ratings for financial strength, customer satisfaction, and customer complaints, as well as information about years in business, cost, online tools, no-exam options, policy types and features, and available riders. 

Our review process gave preference to companies with superior financial stability, few customer complaints, and a robust suite of products and resources. In particular, we valued online quoting and application tools, transparent pricing, and no-exam policy options. Companies received ratings boosts if customer service was accessible via features like live chat. 

We compared individual offerings between companies by delving deeper into product specifics, including maximum coverage amounts, maximum issue ages, included riders, product-specific application processes, and product-specific costs. We used this research to determine the best companies for different products and consumer groups, including the best life insurance for smokers. 

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. CDC. “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States.”

  2. J.D. Power. “2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study.”

  3. NAIC. “ Consumer Insurance Search Results.”