UPDATE: Debunking the myths: the facts about cotinine

by Betsy Sears on September 21, 2017

We are continually getting more data around smoking and life insurance. This popular post from 2012 has been updated with recent research.

According to the Foundation for a Smokefree America, smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disease causing more fatalities than cocaine, auto accidents, AIDS, alcohol, heroin, fire, suicide and homicide combined.

The Relationship between Nicotine and Cotinine
Cigarettes are made up of tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, nitrosamines, nicotine and 4,000 different carcinogenic chemicals. Nicotine, a highly abused, highly toxic alkaloid found in tobacco products such as cigars, cigarettes and chewing tobacco is metabolized into cotinine by the liver, which is then excreted in the urine. When an applicant applies for life insurance and provides a urine sample, that sample is tested for cotinine at the laboratory. If the cotinine result comes back positive, the applicant will be rated as a smoker during the underwriting process and receive a much higher premium than a non-smoker.

In general, cotinine can probably be detected between a few days and a week after smoking cessation. The concentration of cotinine in an applicant’s body is dependent upon several variables including:

  • Low vs. high nicotine cigarettes
  • Time of last tobacco use
  • Amount of tobacco used
  • Hydration level of applicant
  • Individual metabolic differences

ExamOne research consistently shows that using the laboratory recommended cotinine threshold of .30 all but eliminates the possibility of a false positive test result.

“Smoker’s amnesia”
A portion of applicants deny their tobacco use during the life insurance application process. Cotinine testing analysis* shows that 28% of applicants (age 35+) tested positive for tobacco but said they did not smoke on application (this is called non disclosure). While there is non-disclosure rates among all age groups, younger age groups have higher non-disclosure rates and continue to rise. Cotinine laboratory testing is the only way to discover who has “smoker’s amnesia”.

Smoking non-disclosure rates for 18-34 years old applicants are up from 25% in 2005 to 30% in 2015. 

Cotinine Myths
As a life insurance agent, you may have had an applicant with a positive cotinine result tell you things like this:

  • “I’ve never had a cigarette in my life”
  • “I was at a concert/bar last night and everyone around me was smoking”
  • “I smoked one cigar to celebrate my new grandchild and I have never smoked before”

The truth is that those types of explanations do not generally hold true. Indulging in a rare cigar or being around people who smoke is most likely not going to result in a positive cotinine result. A positive cotinine test is usually the result of someone who smokes, chews tobacco or wears a nicotine patch.

There will always be myths about smoking, but a laboratory test can see through the smoke and get the real results.

*2015 ExamOne cotinine testing

How much does life insurance cost a Millennial?

by Beth Millay on August 23, 2017

I recently shared something very private in a very public forum. It may even be something you do, too. No, it wasn’t a deep dark secret – it was my monthly subscription spending! Yes, I’m that person. I have gym memberships, product deliveries, online movie service and several other monthly fees that totaled more than $200 per month.

Subscription generation
My financial habits were put on display recently during a webinar ExamOne hosted about Millennial purchasing trends. Since I was born between 1981 and 1998 and am a Millennial myself, I shared this information to give a first-hand glimpse into my spending habits.

We have been called the “subscription generation,” but do you know what isn’t on many Millennials’ monthly spending list? A monthly life insurance premium isn’t always a priority. Why is that? According to the 2017 Insurance Barometer study*, three out of four millennials (73%) overestimate the cost of life insurance. On average, they incorrectly assume life insurance costs three times more than it does. This misperception is likely dissuading them from considering becoming protected by life insurance.

Life insurance probably isn’t as expensive as we think
Life Happens states that a healthy 30-year-old can get a 20-year $250,000 term life insurance policy for about $13 a month. Most of my disposable monthly fees are around that price, but to be honest I didn’t realize it was as comparable as it is. I also think many younger people don’t realize that they could be getting the best rates and coverage when young and healthy.

Another thing I found interesting in my research was that 50% of Millennials say no one has approached them to buy life insurance. Yes, my generation conducts most research online, has high customer service expectations, and can be picky about brands we buy, but we also appreciate advice from an expert. The Insurance Barometer study found 42% of Millennials surveyed want to buy life insurance through an agent or advisor.

Talk to me about life insurance
So instead of making fun of the box full of outfits, toys and treats for their pets some Millennials have delivered to their door every month, engage us in a conversation about how life insurance is an important step in our financial maturity. Show us the importance and affordability of such a decision. It’s a subscription for protection. I’ll buy that.

For more purchasing and laboratory trends of the largest generation in our history, watch our on-demand webinar.  You will see insight behind my (now very public) list of monthly Millennial “necessities” and how my generation decides where to spend our money.

* The 2017 Insurance Barometer study, conducted by LIMRA and Life Happens

5 summer safety tips to help protect your family

August 10, 2017 Applicants

1. Water awareness Did you know that drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death in children from ages 1-14 in the United States? Even with gates surrounding pool areas, lifeguards on duty, and the protective eyes of parents, it still isn’t enough to stop drowning completely. Below are some tips to assist with […]

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Join together on World Hepatitis Day

July 28, 2017 Applicants

Each summer, the World Health Organization commemorates World Hepatitis Day on July 28 to spread awareness and understanding of the disease and its impact. Hepatitis is one of the world’s leading causes of death, and there are 325 million people living with the disease. That is why it is important for the world to join […]

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Gain peace of mind on National Insurance Day

June 26, 2017 Applicants

National Insurance Day is recognized this year on Wednesday, June 28.  It is a great opportunity to review current life insurance coverage or obtain new insurance. Life and disability insurance can offer peace of mind in the face of financial catastrophe due to illness, injury or even death. The truth is that life insurance is probably […]

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Screenings can save lives

March 2, 2017 Applicants

Did you know colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the U.S.? Although the mortality rate has been declining for several decades, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there will be more than 135,000 new cases and over 50,000 deaths from […]

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Protect your family: There is nothing more valuable than your health

February 20, 2017 Applicants

Protecting your family and loved ones are very important responsibilities. However, you can’t protect them if you are not healthy yourself. Early in the year, “health” goals are especially popular. Health and laboratory screenings are a couple of ways one can better understand his or her health status — and getting them may be easier […]

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Welcoming busy applicants with choice and convenience

January 18, 2017 Applicants

Location, location, location. This is a common catch phrase in real estate, but it’s also becoming more important to life insurance applicants as well. In today’s busy and very mobile society, consumers—including life insurance applicants—want options that best meet their on-the-go lifestyles. To meet this growing consumer demand, ExamOne gives applicants a choice when deciding […]

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Make every holiday season happy: give the gift of life insurance

December 21, 2016 Applicants

Do you remember all the gifts you have given or received during the holidays? Probably not. Gift cards, sweaters and iPhones can only go so far in life. If you still have some last minute presents to buy, stop shopping for forgettable items and give something outside the (gift) box. Though you may not find […]

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More options = happier applicants!

August 16, 2016 #Committed2 You

Providing applicants with choices and convenience Your applicants made an important decision to protect the ones they love and we want to make the application and examination process as quick and easy as possible. ExamOne is the only paramedical company that offers your applicants the convenience of real-time appointment scheduling and a choice between the most […]

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