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There are plenty of life insurance companies out there who will look the other way on cigar smoking as long as you are truly an “occasional” smoker. Each company has their take on what occasional means.

For a few companies you need to save those cigars for true celebrations, and then only for a few a year. You need to pick and choose your occasion wisely if you want them to ignore the habit in underwriting with some companies allowing as few as 2-4 per year. There are companies that must have golfing, cigar smoking CEO’s, These companies have stretched occasional to as many as a dozen a year.

Keep in mind that while these companies are allowing this use without underwriting penalty, they expect you to have negative nicotine results on your labs (yes they test for it). So, if you are an occasional user and would like the break offered, let your agent know so that they can advise you to lay off any occasions for a month prior to your exam. All of us in the business have had clients who have just been overcome with the joy of the moment and can’t resist smoking a cigar the day before an exam. Positive nicotine results lead this group of companies to assume that you are a common smoker and if you stay with them you will pay smoker rates, easily 2-3 times what you were expecting to pay.

The big alternative, and there is really only one left, is Prudential. They stand alone. They allow tobacco or nicotine use, except for cigarettes, even with positive nicotine in the labs at non smoker rates. So, for all of those who chew, smoke pipes or cigars, Pru has a deal that today is not found anywhere else. This is not a small deal if you fall into the category of a tobacco user other than cigarettes. This is huge and can cut your life insurance cost in half.

Bottom line. You’ll never hear about this if you don’t use an independent agent. You’ll never know about this if you aren’t completely honest with your agent about your tobacco habits. Don’t make yourself and your agent look foolish by assuming that you can slide that cigar use past the underwriters.