Smokers/Tobacco Users May Receive Standard Long Term Care Insurance Rates

Spotlight Series on Select Health Conditions and Long Term Care Insurance

This week’s focus…

Can Someone Who Smokes Buy Long Term Care Insurance?

This is actually a relatively easy question to answer. The answer is YES. If you have health conditions that may be in part or wholly due to smoking, those conditions are considered largely on their own. Continued smoking with certain health conditions may present more of a risk than a long term care insurance underwriter wants to assume and, in that case, you may not be able to get an offer.

The real question assumes that there are no major complications in your health other than you smoke. If you are a smoker, how much will your long term care insurance cost? The answer may surprise you.

Another question to consider is how long after you’ve stopped smoking will you have to wait to be considered a “non-smoker” (with the possibility of received better insurance rates)?

What is a Smoker?

Smoking with most insurance companies if broadly defined as any product with nicotine…cigarettes, cigars, pipe, chewing tobacco and so-called e-cigarettes.

If you smoke medical marijuana (need license) there is currently one company who issues traditional long term care insurance that will underwrite you. There are several companies who offer hybrid or asset-based products (long term care benefits combined with a life insurance or annuity) who will underwrite you using their smoker health class.

Some long term care insurance companies require an applicant to take an abbreviated medical exam called a paramed exam (typically done in the home). If you are a smoker, the presence of nicotine or evidence of marijuana use will show up in testing done for this exam.

Some long term care insurance companies will only not require a paramed, but instead will use a phone interview and medical records (along with a prescription check) to assess their risk.

Regardless of which method an insurance company uses, it is critical that you disclose whether you smoke or not. Also if you no longer smoke, when did you stop?

The application will ask specifically whether you smoke (use nicotine products) or not. Not disclosing that one smokes can result in a future claim being denied should the insurance company find out that you in fact were a smoker at the time of the application or had ceased before the necessary waiting period had passed.

What Rates Do Smokers Get?

Surprisingly there generally is not a specific long term care insurance health class for smokers. Instead at a minimum a smoker, assuming no other health history, will with most companies receive a standard health class offer.

What If You Stopped Smoking?

Here’s where once again long term insurance companies can vary in their guidelines. In a few instances, you only need to have stopped more than twelve (12) months prior in order to be eligible for preferred rates. With some companies that period is stretched to twenty-four (24) months.

Again it’s important to note that the above assumes no other health history (comorbid) that could require a lower health class (or even not being able to receive an offer; examples might be if you also have diabetes, heart or lung disease.) When you have comorbid conditions present, it becomes very important that you work with an experience long term care insurance advisor. There may be certain companies that can’t make an offer, but others who will.

If you only have an occasional cigar (no more than 1 per month), there is at least one company that will allow you to be eligible for its preferred health class.

Smoking and the Risk of Long Term Care

If you currently are, or have been, a smoker studies have shown you may be at an increased risk for future health complications. Those health conditions may in turn increase your risk for future long term care costs.

A long term care insurance policy should be considered as a part of any financial plan. Working with a qualified long term care insurance advisor is important as companies all differ in how they underwrite risk.

If you’re interested in learning more about options that are available to you or someone you know, please email me at scott@ltcplanningpartners.com. Or give me a call at 866-609-4909. On the weekends you can reach me on my cell at 805-990-7570.

As an independent LTCi Advisor, my goal is to provide unbiased advice and help educate you on the various options available to you when planning for Long Term Care.
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Scott F. Coomes, J.D., CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®

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