How a Non-Smoker Got Rated as Smoker for Insurance
Dave just got offered a smoker’s rate for his life insurance policy for the second time in four months but swears he does not smoke. Unfortunately, our experience is that some of these people are not being truthful. They have tried to deceive the underwriting process by stopping smoking prior to the completion of the urine test and then get caught based on the results. However, there are a few individuals who are genuine non-smokers and yet their urine test results show a significant amount of nicotine. How can a non-smoker end up with a smoker rating?
According to an underwriter at a leading life insurance company, they assign smoker rates to life insurance policies only where the insurance company has found nicotine in the urine well above a level that which could be attributed to any indirect sources like second hand smoke. The underwriters apply this smoker rating as there is no other test available to define the nicotine source which would cause high levels of nicotine in the urine. Thus, all companies treat high levels of nicotine as being indicative of a smoker. One example of a source that is not due to cigarettes is some toothpaste made in India. “India Today” published a study that claimed many toothpastes (made in India) and an herbal product contain the equivalent of several cigarettes of nicotine. The manufacturers denied these claims. Click here for a link to the article. Chewing betel nuts is also known to result in high nicotine levels and a smoker rating.
Also, any smoking cessation products, including patches, gum, etc. will cause nicotine levels to increase.
The only way to restore their life insurance policy to a non-smoking status is to first discover the source of the nicotine in their system and then to stop doing whatever is causing it. One year from when it is removed, they can apply to be approved for a non-smoker rate. They need to apply for this rate change because the insurance company needs to evaluate the individual’s health at that point in time to accurately assess whether there are other risk factors present which may impede a non-smoker rate. For example, if someone started over-eating to compensate for the lack of nicotine, the request to change to non-smoker rate could be denied if they were outside the normal weight tables and/or had developed diabetes.
All companies also register a code with the Medical Information Bureau or MIB when they discover a any medical issue based on the health of the person they are underwriting. Consequently, the MIB record will show that they had an above normal level of nicotine on the date that they did the urine test. An application to another life insurance company will not change this record and will ultimately result in the life insurance policy being issued as a smoker.
For this reason, we strongly recommend that people who find themselves with a smoker rating for their life insurance take the offer. They can apply to be considered as a non-smoker in a year and hopefully be approved for the non-smoker rate for their life insurance policy. It is imperative to accept the life insurance offer, not only since the life insurance policy protects their loved ones during this year, but equally important, it protects against the risk of being rated or worse, becoming uninsurable, i.e. being diagnosed with a serious illness and/or possibly an uninsurable illness, during the year they are not insure