Nicotine can be a drag on life insurance rates, no matter how you use it

likely get a smoker’s rate, and depending on use, be rated for drug use as well, says Anna Hart, principal of ARH Consulting in Eastland, Tex. As for those smoking electronic cigarettes, they may not emit second-hand smoke, but they do contain nicotine, which also makes the person a smoker in an underwriter’s eyes.

Hart says most insurance companies check a person’s urine to test for a metabolite of nicotine called cotinine in their system. Depending on how much an individual smokes, the cotinine can be present for up to 20 days. If someone abstains for several weeks to “beat” the test, they would be considered misrepresenting their history and the policy could be rescinded.

There are ways smokers can get reduced premiums. Bennethum says no medical test is needed for policies with death benefits of less than 0,000, although Bergstrom points out the premiums for these policies usually are higher.

The other way is to simply quit smoking. Hart says once an individual quits smoking a standard or even a preferred policy could be obtained within one, three or five years, depending on the insurance company.

Other hidden costs associated with tobacco use

Tobacco has become taboo in the work place, with almost 6,000 companies in the U.S. attempting to regulate off-duty smoking in the workplace, including termination, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

There is little legal recourse or sympathy for employees who want to smoke at the workplace, legal and labor experts say.  However, whether employers can forbid you from smoking outside the workplace as well depends largely on what state you live in, they say.

“There are only three protected classes—race, age and sex, and in some instances the disabled. But smokers are not among them,” says Brian Snyder, a Chicago attorney. “They have no special rights.”

Lewis Maltby, president of the New Jersey-based National Workrights Institute, which advocates for workers’ rights, has no problem with employers outlawing workers from smoking while on the job. “It’s what they ought to do,” he says. He points out that every state but Montana is an at-will state, meaning employers can fire someone for any reason other than deemed age, sex or race discrimination.
“They can fire you for parting your hair wrong or the way you park your car,” Maltby says.

What Maltby, the ACLU, and 29 states do have a problem with is firing someone for smoking on their own personal time. While lawsuits from dismissed employees have ended with the courts ruling in the company’s favor, 29 states, including California, Colorado and New York, passed laws about 10 years ago outlawing companies from firing an employee for smoking outside the work place. Maltby says it is doubtful the other 21 states will follow suit at this point, as there hasn’t been a new state law passed on this topic in years.

“What’s legal and what’s right are not always the same,” Maltby says.

He says employers’ who say that eliminating smokers from the payroll saves the company money on health insurance would not hold up in court.

“When you look at the overall picture, the average smoking employee does not cost the company that much more money,” he says.
Besides, he adds, interfering in someone’s private life is a dangerous road to go down. “Everything we do in our private life could affect our medical costs, including sex,” he says. “There’s nothing in the law that says employers can’t interfere there, too.”

This article was originally published at Life Quotes, Inc.

Life Quotes provides access to comparative quotes for auto, life, health and business insurance quotes so that busy consumers and business owners can save time and money. Life Quotes is dedicated to providing impartial insurance information.

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