When you apply for life insurance, many insurance companies require a medical exam which includes various tests to determine your health and overall risk of premature death. In the tests, many insurance companies have nicotine screening tests to determine if you’re a smoker. Smoking is an important consideration when determining if your eligible for life insurance.
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If you test positive for nicotine, life insurance companies classify you as a smoker, putting you in a different premium tier than non-smokers (a higher tier). Even if you don’t currently smoke but have nicotine in your system, you may be classified as smoker.
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Do Life Insurance Companies Test for Nicotine?
Yes, life insurance companies will test for nicotine. It’s a standard test for any life insurance policy since smokers pose a higher risk of premature death than non-smokers.
The nicotine or cotinine test for life insurance is designed to measure the level of nicotine in your body to determine your smoking habits, decide whether you’re an active smoker, or if you’ve recently stopped. This is why seniors over 70 years with health conditions and/or who smoke should get a guaranteed policy. These policies are more expensive, but you can’t be turned down for life insurance even if you smoke or are in poor health.
What Type of Nicotine do Life Insurance Companies Test For?
Life insurance companies use nicotine screening tests that don’t just mean cigarettes. It encompasses almost any way a person could smoke, including:
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- Chewing tobacco
- Nicotine patches or gum
How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?
How long nicotine stays in your body varies by the frequency and quantity you smoke. Your health, activity level, and even the length of your hair can determine how long nicotine sticks around.
Most people have the chemical components of nicotine, known as cotinine, in their urine for at least 3 days and up to four months from the date of their last cigarette.Undetectable levels of nicotine may still be present within the body for another month, but most people test as clean within two to three months.
Nicotine usually stays in a person’s hair much longer than it’s in the urine or blood. For people with longer hair, testing may be able to detect trace amounts for over a year.
The bloodstream, however, only shows trace amounts of nicotine for one to three days, but cotinine, the chemical nicotine metabolizes into stays for up to 10 days.
A saliva test is the most accurate way to test smokers, but cotinine stays in the saliva for only up to 4 days. Heavy smokers, however, can test positive in both the blood and saliva test for up to 14 days from their last cigarette.
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Keep in mind…
It is important to remember that most people using nicotine replacement treatments such as patches and gum will continue to test positive for nicotine. Usually, a week off these products is enough for tests to come back negative, but quitting cold turkey if you are in a cessation program will increase your odds of going back to nicotine use by as much as 60%.
How Long for Nicotine to Leave the System for Life Insurance?
Most life insurance companies don’t consider you a ‘non-smoker’ until you quit for at least 12 months. You’ll also get the best life insurance rates once you’ve been a non-smoker for 5 years. It’s worth talking to your life insurance company about reclassifying you once you quit since each life insurance company has different requirements.
Can you Lie to an Insurance Company about Smoking?
You can lie to an insurance company about smoking, but you will get caught if they conduct nicotine screening tests. There’s no foolproof way to tell if nicotine will show up in your blood, urine, saliva, or hair. You also may have a record of smoking in your medical records. If the life insurance company checks your medical records, they could decline your application for lying (aka insurance fraud).
If an insurance company found out after the fact that you smoked and then died, they may decline your life insurance claim. It’s not worth the risk of lying. Tell the truth, pay the premiums and work hard to quit so you can have non-smoker rates within the next few years.
Types of Nicotine Tests for Life Insurance:
As we stated above, life insurance companies can test for nicotine in a few ways:
Hair retains nicotine the longest. Like most tests, though, there are variances. On average, expect nicotine to stay in your hair for up to 30 days. But if you have long hair or a long growth cycle, it could show up for 12 months or longer.
The hair test is the most accurate nicotine test for life insurance, but it’s also the most expensive. Most insurance companies rely on saliva or blood tests for nicotine unless they have reason to use the hair test.
The saliva test is used much more often than the hair test but not as often as the urine test. Saliva tests are much more sensitive than urine tests and can detect nicotine for around 4 days, but sometimes as long as a week. Saliva tests are subject to false postives, so most insurance companies rely on urine tests.
This is the most common and least expensive of the life insurance tests for nicotine. The standard urine test is reliable. It can detect the substance for 3 days, but up to four months, but it’s the least sensitive test.
Some insurance companies still use the blood test to check for nicotine, but it’s rare. The bloodstream only holds onto small amounts of nicotine for a few short days, but it may show cotinine for up to 10 days.
Foods that Help Flush Out Nicotine and Cotinine from the Body:
Nicotine and cotinine slowly fade from the body within days or weeks after smoking, but if you want to be sure, you can eat certain fruits and vegetables to flush the chemical from your body.
First, it’s essential to drink a lot of water (64 ounces plus) per day and to stay as active as possible. The more you sweat, the more nicotine you’ll excrete from your body.
Second, you should consume a healthy diet free from processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
Include in your diet, foods that are high in fiber, including:
- Ground flax seeds
- Brussel sprouts
Broccoli: This green vegetable is loaded with vitamin C which has been shown to to eliminate nicotine directly from the body. Not only will the vitamin C flush the nicotine from your blood, but it will also rid it from your urine as well which makes it helpful for a drug screening test for nicotine.
Oranges: Like broccoli, the vitamin C will rid the body of nicotine. However, oranges will also boost your metabolism so that the nicotine removes faster from the body.
Kiwi: This healthy fruit will get rid of the nicotine thanks to vitamin C. It also boosts the levels of vitamins A and E in your body.
Spinach: The many vitamins and folic acid play a substantial role in how to remove nicotine from the body. However, an added benefit is that it will make smoking taste bad which will help you kick the habit.
How to Pass a Nicotine Test for Life Insurance?
The best way to pass a life insurance nicotine test is to stop smoking.
Life insurance companies won’t consider you a non-smoker until you aren’t smoking for at least 12 months and sometimes up to 5 years.
Even if you pass the nicotine test, you shouldn’t lie to an insurance company about the last time you smoked. The data could show up in your medical records or your nicotine tests.
Many people wonder if they’ll fail a nicotine test if they are to second-hand smoke. While the worry is valid, it’s not a concern. Secondhand smoke can be a health concern, but the exposure isn’t enough to show up on a blood, saliva, urine, or hair test.
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How Long Does it Take to Get Life Insurance after you Stop Smoking?
Most life insurance companies will consider you a non-smoker once you don’t smoke for 12 months. This doesn’t mean you’ll get the best insurance rates since it’s only been a year, but it’s a start.
The further you are away from your last cigarette, the better the rates you’ll get. Most companies consider you a true non-smoker and eligible for the best rates once you are smoke-free for 5 years.
Should you Quit Cold Turkey to get Better Insurance Rates?
Quitting cold turkey may not be the safest way to quit smoking. Always consult your medical advisor before making any major health decisions. Even if you do quit cold turkey, you won’t get better life insurance rates the next day – it takes time, up to 5 years after your last cigarette to get the best rates.
Quitting cold turkey and lying about your quitting date also isn’t a good idea since that’s insurance fraud and puts you at risk of serious consequences. Instead, be honest but quit smoking and know that you’re on your way to better rates and better health.
Does Nicotine Gum Show up in Urine Tests?
Nicotine gum is metabolized in the gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver and may show up in your urine tests. The gum contains nicotine which metabolizes as cotinine and may show up for at least a few days after consumption.
If you want non-smoker life insurance rates, you must not smoke for 12 months to 5 years, depending on the insurance company. If you’re a smoker or are in poor health, consider a guaranteed life insurance policy at least until you are a non-smoker and can get the best life insurance rates.