Do Life Insurance Companies Test for Nicotine? [Here’s How it Works]

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Do Life Insurance Companies Test For Nicotine? Full Guide and Details Below

Life insurance companies often require a medical exam and lab work to verify that you are healthy and not a candidate for high-risk life insurance.

A life insurance exam typically consists of build measurement, a blood pressure reading, as well as blood and urine analysis, but what exactly do life insurance companies test for?

Do life insurance companies test for nicotine? Yes, life insurance companies test for nicotine most commonly in your urine or saliva but can test your blood or even a hair sample to determine if you use nicotine products.

 If you’re a trying to get life insurance with smoking or tobacco use, then you need to work with a professional high-risk life insurance broker who understands how companies view nicotine.

That’s why we recommend you begin by comparing the rates of highly-rated life insurance companies.

You can do this easily below using our free rate engine tool to show the rates for over 50 of the most reputable life insurance companies for tobacco and nicotine users.


Go ahead and request a tobacco quote to see how some companies offer special preferred tobacco discounts for tobacco users in otherwise excellent health.

It may surprise you how affordable preferred tobacco rates can be, but you might not need to pay tobacco rates at all!

Here is what you can expect to learn about nicotine and the life insurance exam:

Feel free to use any of the links directly below to skip to a particular section of this post.

How Do Life Insurance Companies Test for Nicotine

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System

Can You Lie About Smoking For Life Insurance

Final Thoughts on if Life Insurance Companies Test for Nicotine

How Do Life Insurance Companies Test for Nicotine

Life insurance companies most commonly test for nicotine in your urine.

A urine test for nicotine is normally very reliable and determines your nicotine usage by measuring your levels of nicotine and cotinine.

Cotinine is an alkaloid found in tobacco and can be used as a biomarker for exposure to tobacco or nicotine products.

While urine tests are reliable, they are also the least sensitive test to detect nicotine usage.

In general, nicotine and cotinine levels in your urine last about a week; although, this can vary depending on how much you consume and your biology.

Saliva is the next most common nicotine test that life insurance companies will use.

The saliva test is more sensitive than a urine sample at detecting nicotine and not as common for life insurance companies to use.

Generally, we will see saliva tests used when the life insurance company wants to know if you are using tobacco or nicotine products but doesn’t require full lab work.

It is possible to test for nicotine with blood or hair tests as well.

Hair tests are a great way to determine nicotine use and can detect nicotine use as far back as 90 days!

However, it would be unusual for a life insurance company to request a hair test for nicotine usage due to the cost of these procedures.

Finally, you can test for nicotine in the blood, but blood tests for nicotine are more expensive than urine or saliva tests and therefore, rarely used.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System

Life insurance companies usually administer urine tests or saliva tests to detect nicotine use.

Please note that everyone’s biology will process nicotine slightly differently, so these are not hard figures, but rather more common experiences.

Nicotine usually is traceable in the body for these time lengths:

  • Blood 1-3 days
  • Urine 3-4 days
  • Saliva 1-4 days
  • Hair 1-3 months (possibly up to 12 months)

However, nicotine is not the only substance that the life insurance company will test for.

Cotinine is a substance that your body uses to process nicotine and will remain in your body longer than nicotine, so keep that in mind when you are going in for your test.

Life insurance companies can tell by your lab work if your test indicates moderate tobacco use, second-hand smoke, or even smoking cessation programs, such as gum or patches.

Additionally, life insurance companies can use your medical records or your files from the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) to test if you use nicotine products.

The MIB stores data from previous life insurance applications, such as if you tested positive for nicotine use on labs.

If the doctor documents that you recently used nicotine products in your medical records, you may get rated as a tobacco user, even if your lab work doesn’t test positive for nicotine.

Life insurance companies have different opinions on how long nicotine needs to be out of your system to be considered a non-nicotine user.

The most lenient life insurance companies on nicotine use will consider you for non-nicotine rates after you quit using nicotine or tobacco products for 12 months.

As time goes on, you may be eligible for additional discounts on your life insurance rates as long as you continue not to use nicotine products.

After 5 years of not using nicotine, you should be eligible for the top discounts with most life insurance companies.

Can You Lie About Smoking For Life Insurance

You cannot lie about smoking to a life insurance company.

Lying on your insurance application or misrepresenting yourself is never a good idea.

If you lie about your nicotine use to the life insurance company and you test positive on the labs, then the life insurance company will absolutely take action.

We are increasingly seeing surprise nicotine positive results on life insurance tests due to e-cigarettes or vaping as the product increases in popularity.

Pro Tip: Nicotine is present in most smokeless-tobacco products, smoking cessation products, and cigarette alternatives; including, chew, dip, snuff, cigars, e-cigarettes, vaping, pipes, hookahs, patches, and gum.

The best life insurance companies for nicotine users will offer non-tobacco rates to users of smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, or the occasional cigar use.

However, you must declare your use of the nicotine products upfront on your application.

If you try to say after the fact that you smoke to occasional cigar to get better rates, trust between you and the life insurance company has already been broken.

It’s also never a bad idea to lean towards companies that may be more favorable for occasional tobacco use.

For example, a company like AIG Life Insurance Company could be a great example if you smoke occasional cigars.

They allow you to smoke 1 cigar per week and still afford you non-smoker rates.

If you don’t disclose that you use nicotine products and your labs show otherwise, your best-case scenario is smoker rates.

It is possible that a life insurance company may even contest your death benefit claim, so it pays to be honest.

You don’t want to give the life insurance company any reason to not pay your claim when the time comes.

There are no-exam life insurance companies that won’t require a medical exam to purchase life insurance.

They will absolutely ask about nicotine use on the application.

Final Thoughts on if Life Insurance Companies Test for Nicotine

Life insurance companies do test for nicotine, usually either through a urine test or a saliva test.

Nicotine can be detectable in your system up to a week since your last usage of nicotine products, but this can vary based on your biology and the test used.

If you use tobacco or nicotine products, you should not lie on your application.

If you lie, you may end up paying higher rates than if you declared your nicotine product use.

Rather than lie to the life insurance company, it is better to work with a high-risk life insurance broker to find the best deal for nicotine users.

You can easily use our free rate engine to compare the rates of the best life insurance companies for nicotine users.

Go ahead and request a free no-obligation quote.