September 26, 2016

Life Insurance for Vapers?

Do vapers need life insurance? Of course! Like everyone else, vapers want to protect their families in case something terrible and unexpected happens. And it’s wise — especially if you have kids, or are leaving a lot of financial liabilities for your family to deal with.

Life insurance is roughly divided into two types, whole life and term. CNN Money says whole life policies combine a fixed payout amount in case of death with an investment component. Part of the money you pay in premiums goes into investment funds managed by the insurance company. Term policies just insure you for a fixed period, without the investment option. They’re often paid for year-by-year, but some have longer coverage periods, some as long as 30 years.

How does the insurance industry treat vapers?


But most vapers have a major strike against them when buying insurance of any kind. We’re almost all ex-smokers, and we’re usually nicotine users. Those things tend to mean higher rates. Cigarette smokers can wind up paying as much as six times as much as non-smokers for life insurance. And just about any kind of nicotine use will increase what you pay.

If you’re an ex-smoker, the cost drops — eventually. It takes at least a year for you to be considered for non-smoker rates at most companies. What if you quit by vaping? How does that affect the cost? Well, are you vaping nicotine?

And they'll be testing too. Medical exams are required.

Personal finance writer Barbara Marquand says that some companies require abstinence from all nicotine use to get the best rates. MetLife’s best rating class, for example, requires no nicotine intake for at least five years. That includes vaping, and even NRT products like nicotine gum or patches. In fact, even their most basic non-smoking category requires a year without any kind of nicotine use.

And they’ll be testing too. Medical exams are required. Those usually include blood, urine, or saliva tests for cotinine, which the liver metabolizes from nicotine. It usually requires about a week without nicotine use to avoid a positive cotinine test. The test can’t tell the source of the nicotine in your system, but for most insurance companies, nic is nic.

Some companies allow occasional cigar smoking by “non-smokers,” but still require a clean nicotine test. Others allow marijuana use. Of course, marijuana wouldn’t cause a positive test for nicotine use anyway.

Insurance especially for vapers?


Interestingly, our friends at E-Cigarette Forum (ECF) seem to have found an insurance agency that’s aiming squarely at the vaper market. Latitude Insurance is advertising itself as a partner of ECF and its sister site, and ECF is featuring the agency with promotional banners.

The Bellingham, WA, agency is a so-called independent insurance broker. That means the agency offers insurance from multiple carriers, and can compare the prices and features across a lot of available policies. That may be a better option for consumers than going to the local branch of a single major insurance company.

Health insurance is the larger issue.

David R. Gould, an agent at Latitude Insurance, actually has a thread on ECF in which he’s actively engaging vapers and addressing some of their concerns. It’s interesting. Gould says part of his job is to “try to get more companies to recognize and reward the healthy choice vapers have made.” And he’s right. When that happens, prices will go down further, and vapers will have more insurance options.

But a lot of vapers’ questions are about health insurance, which Gould and Latitude don’t offer. Health insurance is the larger issue. When health insurance companies recognize vaping as a practice that lowers their costs, they may just drag the rest of the American health establishment along with them. But that may not happen until there are real long-term studies of how vaping improves the health of ex-smokers.

David Gould think that offering life insurance for vapers may push the providers to change their attitudes. He hopes to “use this as a foot in the door so to speak to influence other areas of insurance like Health, Disability, and Long Term Care.”

Every vaper looks forward to the day when switching to a far safer way of getting nicotine earns us less expensive health insurance. It will happen eventually. Meanwhile, wanna buy some life insurance?

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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Hey Jim, nice article. I think it’s worth adding that David is a really top guy with a real history of dealing with so called “hard to insure” cases, so it’s great news that he’s on top of this.

For me, the main “angle” here is the absurdity. Insurers are almost the canary in the mine – if they’re offering non-smoker rates, they’ve done their research and, politically, this means something. Next-up, life insurance!

Jim McDonald

I don’t think many people understand what a game changer it will be when health insurance providers fully accept the benefits to them. It could be the tipping point for public acceptance (though it’ll take a while to pay off politically).

Thanks for visiting Vaping360, Oliver!

[Note to readers: Oliver is the owner of ECF and]


Eggplant lovers will need to watch their nic intake too. ?

Jim McDonald

Haha, yeah. But you would have to eat a truckful of eggplant to register on a test.

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