If you’re a current (or former) smoker, you may be wondering how long nicotine stays in your system. especially if you’re thinking of buying a life insurance policy because often the amount of nicotine in your system can be used to determine what type of “rate” a person might qualify for.
for this reason…
We wanted to take a moment and discuss some of the most common questions we get from people who use tobacco or nicotine products when applying for a whole life or traditional term life insurance policy.
Questions to be addressed will include:
- How long does nicotine typically “stay” in a person’s system?
- In addition to testing, how can life insurance companies determine if someone is using tobacco or nicotine?
- What if someone lies on their life insurance application?
- An insurance company may request copies of your medical records in which your doctor documents that you use tobacco.
- You may have been prescribed some type of medication designed to help you quit smoking, which will provide a record to an insurance company that you have ever used tobacco or nicotine.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
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How long does nicotine typically “stay” in a person’s system?
The short answer: Nicotine usually stays in your system (ie, your blood) for 1 to 3 days. however, insurance companies will not look for “nicotine” in your system when they test it. instead, they will seek out a natural “by-product” produced by the body as it metabolizes nicotine. a byproduct called cotinine that will be detected by a cotinine test.
what is a cotinine test?
A cotinine test determines how much cotinine is in your body. the most common is a urine cotinine test, which can detect nicotine use for up to 4 days. Other types of cotinine tests may include saliva tests, which will be able to detect cotinine for up to 4 days, blood tests for up to 10 days, and hair follicle tests for up to 3 months (in most cases).
We must take into account…
however, there are a variety of factors that can come into play, which could shorten or increase the amount of time cotinine can be detected in the system, so this should always be taken into account.
For example, certain medications can affect how quickly the body can metabolize nicotine. Common medication includes many types of antibiotics that can help your body process nicotine faster. That doesn’t mean you should go out and get a prescription for antibiotics just to cleanse your body of nicotine, it just means there are a variety of different factors that can determine how long nicotine can last in the body.
Certain antifungals and some high blood pressure medications can slow the metabolism of nicotine. these are just things to be aware of so you can gauge how quickly nicotine will pass through your body and whether your nicotine test will be positive or negative after a certain duration.
We should also note that it is safe to assume that the amount of tobacco or nicotine you consume will also play a role in determining how long you will have residual levels of cotinine in your system.
It’s fairly safe to assume that if you’ve only smoked one cigarette in your life, it will probably go through your system in a substantially shorter amount of time than if you smoked a pack a day for the past 15 years.
so much so, that some people may have so much nicotine stored within their body that it may still be detectable at some level for up to six months!
Which leads us to….
An important point for any tobacco or nicotine user to understand is that detectable levels in your blood or urine sample are not the only way a life insurance company will determine if you are a current tobacco user.
That’s why even if you decide to apply for a life insurance policy without a medical exam and state that you don’t use any type of tobacco or nicotine products, there are several “other” ways an insurance company could find out that you are! you do!
In addition to testing, most life insurance companies will have a variety of other methods they can use to determine who is and who is not a tobacco user.
other methods like:
You may have applied for a life insurance policy in the past, at which time you declared you were a tobacco user, or during that application, you may have tested positive for cotinine, which you will have access to your new life insurance company. . That’s why honesty is always the best policy!
What if someone lies on their life insurance application?
Because being labeled a “tobacco user” will generally cause one to have to pay more for their insurance, some people may be tempted to lie (top 10 lies told on a life insurance application) during your life insurance application, which is something we definitely don’t recommend you try and do.
A life insurance policy is considered a legal contract between two parties that assumes that both parties are “of sound mind” and that both parties are honest. This means that if you are found to be dishonest on your application, it could void the entire contract and leave your loved one uninsured.
The reason for this…
This is because tobacco use alone will generally only result in a person having to pay more for their insurance. however, if someone has also been diagnosed with some type of pre-existing medical condition that may still be insurable as long as the applicant does not use any type of tobacco or nicotine product, lying about using one could be considered a material misrepresentation and provide a insurance company with a valid reason to void your policy later!
People who have been diagnosed with asthma, COPD, diabetes or emphysema may qualify for a whole life or traditional term life insurance policy. however, when one of these conditions is combined with active tobacco or nicotine use, it is fairly safe to say that most life insurance companies will not be willing to provide coverage.
meaning that if you lied about your use, you essentially entered into a binding contract with them in “bad faith”.
but this is…
Just one of the reasons it’s a bad idea to lie during a life insurance application. the other reason it’s a bad idea is that sometimes people “lie” about their usage only to find out that if they hadn’t lied, they might have qualified for a better rate!
This is because…
Not all forms of “tobacco” will be considered equal. however, once a person chooses not to claim that they do not use any type of tobacco or nicotine and is caught, most insurance companies will not be willing to provide a “no tobacco” rate to these individuals. even if they had qualified differently!
Honesty is always the best policy.
If you’re looking to buy a life insurance policy and you’re worried about paying too much for your insurance, the best thing you can do is make sure you’re working with a true professional who is familiar with underwriting guidelines from a wide range of insurance companies. variety of different life insurance companies.
This way, he or she will not only be able to guide you to the “right” life insurance company, but also be able to advise you on how you can qualify for a “no tobacco.” rate when possible.
so give us a call today, who knows, you might be surprised to learn how affordable your coverage could be!