It is a rare thing in the life insurance industry when there is only one company that takes a stance completely contrary to all of the other companies. Prudential is just that bold.

For as long as there has been life insurance and cigarettes, there has been testing to determine if you have nicotine in your system. Virtually all companies assume nicotine in your system meets the underwriting threshhold for smoker rates. They bulk all nicotine use, whether it is cigarette, cigar, chew, or nicorette gum into the same rate class even though the risk factors are obviously not the same.

Prudential was one of only two companies that took exception to that line of underwriting lack of thinking. They knew that the mortality risk is not the same for a cigar smoker or someone who chews, as it is for a cigarette smoker. The other company was bought up and thrown in the trash by AXA Equitable, so 50% of the common sense in the life insurance business left us last year. That was bad news.

The good news is that it doesn’t appear that Prudential is prone to being gobbled up by some other company and they seem very solid in their stance on this issue.

There are very few companies that will break away from conventional underwriting, but Pru, the Rock, seems to do it consistently. They have the best underwriting when it comes to sleep apnea, mood disorders including bipolar disorder, prostate cancer, student pilots and……..cigars.

Bottom line. As all the other companies languish in mediocrity, Pru stays on the cutting edge. I believe they are one of the only companies that cares about underwriting reality, not letting a book dictate their decisions.

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