Category Archives: Personal Finance

How E-Cigarettes Affect Life Insurance Rates

When it comes to applying for life insurance, many companies don’t see much of a difference between regular smokers and users of e-cigarettes. Although little is known about the effects of e-cigarettes, both products are seen as a health risk. Before signing up for a policy, it’s important to understand how e-cigarettes affect life insurance rates and how insurance companies tend to view them.

Smokers tend to pay three to four times more in premiums than non-smokers. In order to qualify for non-smoker life insurance rates, most companies will require their applicants to be completely nicotine-free for at least 12 months or sometimes 3 to 5 years, depending on the provider. Since e-cigarettes still give users a dose of nicotine, it’s hard for insurance companies to see a difference. Even if a person rarely smokes e-cigarettes, they may still be stuck with higher premiums.

Most insurance companies will test for nicotine during the required medical exam. From there, companies typically depend on the honor system when classifying their customers. Yet, this doesn’t mean that customers can simply withhold information about their past nicotine use. Insurance companies have many ways of digging up personal information. Evidence of past nicotine use can be found in a customer’s medical records, social media channels, public information directories, and even interviews with friends and family members.

In addition, most life insurance policies have a built-in two-year contestability window. If the company finds that the customer has falsified any part of their application, they can cancel the policy and return the premiums paid. Additionally, if the insured person dies within the first two years and the company finds out that the application contained false information, they can deny the claim.

As reported by The Hill, the Food and Drug Administration is currently in the process of trying to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. If the White House rules in the FDA’s favor, vaporizers and electronic cigarettes would be held to the same standards as tobacco products. This ruling gives insurance companies all the more reason to raise premiums on their customers who regularly use e-cigarettes.

While the long-term effects of e-cigarettes may not yet be clear, what is clear is that E-cigarettes affect life insurance rates just like traditional tobacco products. If a person uses e-cigarettes as a way of weaning themselves off of tobacco products and nicotine altogether, they might want to wait another year or more before applying for life insurance to avoid paying higher premiums. Regardless of what kinds of nicotine products a person uses, it’s important for them to be honest with the insurance company to avoid penalties or having their policy canceled all together.

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How to Make Sure Your Life Insurance Benefits Don’t Go Unclaimed

If you own a life insurance policy, you might be interested to know that there is a relatively high risk of your benefits going unclaimed after you pass away. In fact, according to a Consumer Reports investigation, there is currently close to $1 billion dollars in unclaimed life insurance benefits just sitting there waiting to be claimed by beneficiaries who don’t know how to find it, or even worse, don’t even know it exists.

You purchased a life insurance policy so that your loved ones would be financially protected after you’re gone. So what could be worse than paying your premiums for years, or decades, only for your benefits to end up in insurance purgatory while your grieving family is left empty-handed? Unfortunately this is all too common. But what makes this problem so much more tragic is that it is so easily preventable. Here’s what you can do to make sure it doesn’t happen to your beneficiaries:


Seems pretty simple right? 1) You take out a policy, 2) you name some beneficiaries, and 3) you tell those beneficiaries about it. Well, somehow policy holders tend to leave out step 3 a lot more often than you might expect. In fact the most common reason that life insurance payouts go unclaimed is that the beneficiaries simply weren’t aware that they were named on the policy in the first place.

This is the easiest way to prevent unclaimed benefits, so if you currently have a policy, or are in the process of applying for one, make it a priority to tell your potential beneficiaries right away. It might not be anyone’s favorite topic of conversation, but it could prevent a lot of needless heartache, and headaches for them in the future.

If your beneficiaries are young children, or otherwise unable to handle the money directly, and you opt to leave your money to them through a trust, make sure a responsible adult family member or friend knows about it. Whoever you chose to tell, whether it’s the beneficiaries themselves, or a trusted guardian, make sure you provide as much information as possible about your policy (i.e. the location of the policy, the name of the insurance provider, your agent’s contact information, etc.). The more information you provide, the less legwork they’ll have to do to track your policy down.


If your beneficiaries are unaware of your policy, there’s still a good chance that they’ll find it while sorting through the files and personal documents you leave behind. It is critical that you keep good records and make sure your life insurance policy is left in a place where your beneficiaries can find it.

Of course, a life insurance policy contains a great deal of sensitive personal information, so you don’t want to be reckless with it. Keep it in an accessible, but secure place, like a locked file cabinet, and make sure the key is easy for your family to locate. It’s also a good idea to keep an electronic copy of your policy on file, just in case your hard copy gets lost or damaged.


Term life insurance policies can last anywhere from 10-30 years, and a lot can happen in that amount of time. It’s a good idea to review your policy at least once per year to see if you need to make any changes. This will give you a chance to see if your policy could use an update due to a marriage, a divorce, having a child, becoming a caretaker or guardian etc. This will also give you a yearly reminder to notify beneficiaries that they have been added to your policy, because, once again, the very best way to prevent unclaimed life insurance benefits is to make your beneficiaries aware of your policy in the first place.

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How Long To Get Approved for Life Insurance

It’s one of the most common questions that comes our way, and it’s a question that’s almost impossible to answer with any certainty. So, how long does it take to get approved for life insurance? Here is the definitive, once-and-for-all answer: it depends.

Disappointing, I know, but the reason the answer is almost always “it depends” is because there are many variables that go into applying for life insurance. Plus, it doesn’t really help that every insurance company under the sun has its own set of rules and restrictions in place for evaluating applicants. So although there is no single universal answer, you can still get an idea of what to expect. Here are some common questions about the application process that might help:

What’s the fastest way to get covered?

If you need coverage right away, your best bet is probably no-exam life insurance. To get traditional coverage, insurance companies require you to submit to a medical exam in order to get an assessment of your general health and to determine whether or not you are too high-risk to be eligible for coverage, and how high your premiums will be if you do qualify for life insurance. No-exam insurance policies allow you to forgo this process.

In some cases you can get approved for no-exam life insurance in as little as 24 hours. However, no-exam insurance policies tend to cost about 15-20 percent more on average than traditional life insurance policies, so they are best used as stop-gap measures for people who need coverage for a short, definite period of time.

No-exam buyer beware: Just because they don’t require a medical exam, it doesn’t mean you can lie about your health, or automatically qualify for coverage regardless of your medical condition. They will more than likely request your pharmacy records as well as a report from the Medical Information Bureau (MIB).

What about a traditional life insurance policy?

If you’re not in a rush, or just not willing to pay the higher premiums for no-exam insurance, a traditional life insurance policy is the way to go. But, with these it’s a little tougher to predict the timing. The general rule of thumb is, the more detailed and plentiful information you are able to provide, the faster the approval process will be.

In some cases you can get approved for a traditional life insurance plan in as little as two weeks. Here’s how it works:
If you complete and send in your application right away, your insurance provider could help you schedule a medical exam within the next 48 hours. After you complete the exam, an underwriter will be assigned to examine your lab results, and look over your application. If everything is in order and your underwriter doesn’t see any reason to request an examination of your medical records, you could be approved right away and your policy could go into effect in as little as seven days after your approval.

What if the underwriter does need to pull my records?

If something isn’t quite adding up on your application, or your medical exam proved inconclusive for whatever reason, your underwriter will likely request medical records from one or more of your physicians, which can take anywhere from a few days to weeks (and in some cases, months).

Since there are so many factors that go into this stage of the process (how backlogged your physician is, the specific factors your particular insurance company is looking for, your specific health condition and history, etc.) it’s really difficult to say, but you can expect it to take anywhere from 3-8 weeks on average from the time you apply to the time your policy goes into effect. But, as always, the more information you can provide, the better off you’ll be. Talk to an agent or broker today to inquire about their application process and discuss your options for getting the coverage you need.

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