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  • Writer's picturePeter C. Ciravolo

What are health ratings in Life Insurance, Disability Income, and Long-Term Care? 


Insurance can be confusing, and trying to figure out your health rating is no easier.

In this article, I will explain what the different health ratings and show you who qualifies for what. 

Before we start – please note - every insurance carrier is different, and each carrier has their own underwriting scale and requirements. Some call their top rating Select Preferred, others Preferred Plus, others Premier. I will include the most common terms that I see day in and day out in the insurance biz. Here we go. 

The first deciding health rating isn’t as black and white as it seems. 

Tobacco or Non-Tobacco? (Smoker vs. Non-Smoker)

You may just think this is “I smoke cigarettes” or not, which is true, but with all the new nicotine products on the market, along with the legalization of recreational marijuana, it is important to know what is considered Tobacco or Non-Tobacco. The difference between tobacco or non-tobacco could be up to a 2x increase in insurance premiums.

Let’s avoid this if possible, agree?

Cigarettes - If you currently smoke cigarettes, you are a smoker. If you used to smoke cigarettes but don’t anymore, some carriers will accept you as a non-smoker if it has been over 5 years, some carriers 10 years. This must be documented by a doctor, and from experience you will have to take a blood and urine exam. All this hassle could save you 50% on insurance premiums – so definitely worth it. 

E-Cigarettes – the most common culprit out there today it seems. Juul? Fog? Smoke Machine? You are a smoker. 

Dip/Chew - depending on the carrier, this can be considered non-tobacco. Prudential and Lincoln are our two favorite carriers for dippers and chewers as they will be labeled non-tobacco. Most carriers will consider this to be a smoker otherwise. 

Cigars – depending on the carrier, some will let you smoke 6 (some carriers up to 12) cigars a year. This is more of “celebrity cigar” if you will. 

Marijuana – how do you consume it? That’s the question with marijuana and insurance. If is inhaled/smoked, then you are a smoker. If you consume edibles, then you are considered a non-smoker. This varies from carrier to carrier, and has progressively changed over the years. Even if you consume marijuana in a state that it is illegal recreationally, you can still be approved at Preferred Non-tobacco rates, so long as it is disclosed.

Insurance Health Rating Chart

Let’s move into health ratings now. The easiest way for me to do this is to provide you with a chart:

If you are still unsure about your health rating, we suggest reaching out to us directly for a consultation. Between our carrier relationships, being 100% independent, and working with 100+ insurance carriers, it is rare that we do not get someone coverage, unless in extreme circumstances where we would let you know from the get go. 

Flat Rate Increase

Our last health rating consideration is a flat rate increase. This can be added on for a multitude of reasons, including, but not limited to extracurricular activities, being a private licensed pilot, previous DUI/DWI, skydiving, racing cars (on a race track – not 465 at rush hour), or other high-risk occupations/activities. If you partake in anything remotely related to this, please let us know and disclose it early on. Hiding it will only make problems for the future. 


This sums up what health ratings are in insurance. It is important to work with a broker who knows what they are doing, and works alongside you to get you the best health rating, coverage, and premiums possible. BC Brokerage was built to keep insurance simple. Get a quote here or apply now here.

BC Brokerage - Your One Stop Shop | 765-730-7146


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