It should come as a shock to nobody that life insurance companies penalize smokers with higher premiums or even outright refusal to issue a policy. But now that more than 20 states now allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes and voters in four states have approved its recreational use, what impact will admitting you’re a marijuana user have on your life insurance application?
The fact is insurers appear to be divided on the topic, reflecting the same attitude among the general public. More than a third of life insurers recently surveyed currently classify marijuana users as non-smokers. At the same time, many health insurance companies deny coverage for medical marijuana use, because it’s still classified under Federal drug laws as a Schedule 1 controlled substances, according to an article on lifehealthpro.com.
The problem from a life insurance underwriter’s point of view is that, unlike tobacco, there isn’t a lot of data available to assess the risks of coverage for marijuana users. So policies and ratings differ from company to company. Some carriers tolerate occasional use without assessing any premium penalty, others will assign a substandard debit to heavy recreational users and others deny coverage for any use at all. The standard for what constitutes light, moderate and heavy use will depend on the company, so if you’re a marijuana user looking for the best life insurance rate, it definitely pays to shop around. You can compare life insurance policies and rates online.
The health effects of marijuana use aren’t the only thing under consideration. Lifestyle impact, such as impaired judgment, physical reaction and dependence/addiction are of concern as well. Life insurance companies can and do require medical exams, family histories and disclosure about occupation and recreational activities of applicants, assigning higher rates to risky behaviors like base jumping. If you’re thinking, ‘hey, I’ll just leave my marijuana smoking off the applicant,’ don’t. Lying on a life insurance application (or any insurance application for that matter) is a bad move. Even if usage doesn’t show up on your medical exam, your beneficiaries could be denied your policy’s death benefits if the carrier learns that you died from causes related to marijuana use. Better to be upfront and look for a life insurance company with lenient standards.