Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Life Insurance Claim

In some cases, a life insurance claim for a smoker holding a non-smoker’s insurance policy will be denied, but not always. How the insurance company handles the claim, however, will depend on how long the person has held the non-smoking policy.

Generally, insurance companies have a contestability period in which the company can contest any claims and any policies. This period is usually two years.

During this time, if the company discovers that a person has lied about anything on his or her application, the company can deny claims and cancel policies entirely.

And, while they may be nice and refund you the premiums you’ve paid to date, it will not necessarily happen this way.

Read on to learn more detail and then be sure to enter your zip code in above for free life insurance quotes!

Two Year Life Insurance Contestability Period

You may wonder how it can take two years for an insurance company to get this kind of information to come out. This is because, even while insurance companies may have inspection reports and sometimes eve medical examinations, they depend primarily on your application and the answers you give them during the application process to determine what your policy and your policy’s premium will be.

After issuing the policy, anything the company discovers during this two year period that they believe you may have lied about during the application process can cause them to withdraw your policy or deny your claims; even if they discover it a month before the period of contestability is over.

These discoveries can go back to something that might have seemed small or irrelevant to you at the time, such as a diagnosis or an outpatient procedure just a month before applying for life insurance. Ultimately, it is probably in your best interest to be as honest as possible during the application process.

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Routes the Insurer May Take

So, there are several scenarios you may face if your insurance company discovers that you are a smoker holding a non-smoker’s life insurance policy. They can deny the entire claim, refusing to pay a single penny of the policy; and, while it would be nice for them to at least refund the premiums paid, it will not necessarily happen.

They can also elect to pay only the difference between the premiums of the non-smoker’s policy and the smoker’s policy the insurance holder should have purchased in the first place. They arrive at this amount by taking the total months the insured held a non-smoking policy from the amount promised in the policy.

Now, if you make your claim after this period is over, and the company has not discovered anything to contest, the company usually can no longer contest the policy or deny the claim based on misstatements. This means even if they later discover a blatant lie or misstatement on the application they no longer have the right to withdraw the policy or deny any claims.

There have, of course, been instances during this incontestability period where the companies proved they were lied to on the application. In these cases, the insurance companies have not always had to pay in full—and sometimes not at all.

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Life Insurance Suicide Clause

Additionally, many policies have a so-called “suicide clause” that works somewhat differently than does the standard two year contestability period. The suicide clause will usually states that if the policy holder commits suicide within one year of obtaining the policy, the insurance company can and will contest claim and the only benefits received will be limited to only any premiums that were paid to date. After that first year, the policy enters into the incontestability state and the insurance companies cannot deny claims on a policy where the policy holder died because of suicide.

Never Lie on a Life Insurance Application

This article is not encouraging anyone to lie on an application for life insurance—exactly the opposite. If someone lies on his or her application about smoking or anything else, and is unable to make it through that two year contestability period, he or she risks losing a lot more than what can be gained through a misrepresentation—including the entire policy and any money that has been thus far invested in it. This could potentially be devastating to the beneficiaries of the policy. The truth is, too, that most people can still obtain a life insurance policy even with the things they may be tempted to neglect to mention on their application.

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Free Life Insurance Quotes

If you are worried that you have health concerns or risks that will prevent you from obtaining life insurance, there are many insurance companies that will simply insure you without any reports or examination reports. You can do quick online searches for no exam life insurance, and even obtain quotes on possible life insurance policy options that may be available to you. Use the free life insurance comparison tool on this page to do so now. Just enter your zip code to start!