Early Summer 2011, I applied for a life insurance policy. The application process includes some medical tests to verify insurability. These tests registered a significant level of nicotine. The insurance company could therefore only offer me their tobacco rate, 5x their original quote! I have never smoked in my life , and was therefore highly surprised about this outcome. My first reaction was to ask for an investigation, something must have gone wrong with these tests. That did not bring a satisfactory result. The insurance company claimed that the tests and lab work were done properly.
I consulted my physician, and he found the probable cause of my positive test result for nicotine: nicotine-based pesticides used in our vineyard. Just two weeks before the medical tests were done, we had an application of a neonicotinoid pesticide, appropriately named "Widow", injected into the irrigation system. Neonicotinoids are insecticides chemically related to nicotine. We were just in the middle of shoot removal, and this is when I must have picked up enough nicotine in my system to show up as a relevant level in the life insurance medical test. Life insurance companies are not interested to learn the possible explanation. Just the fact that the test result comes out positive is enough. Their recommendation was to avoid being in contact with any chemicals that can influence the outcome of the test for a full year, and the apply again. Furthermore, coded medical information is shared between companies though the MIB, so applying with another insurance company does not help.
If you must handle vines after application of pesticides, it's a good idea to wear protection.
This article may have inspired you to think of an alternative way to quit smoking by using a vineyard as your replacement source of nicotine. The dosage you pick up is unpredictable, and there may be other pesticide components that you may not like. Not a good idea, don't try this at home.
I will apply for life insurance again this Summer, if you know a more grape growing industry friendly life insurance company, please share this information.