Life Insurance and Marijuana

With change in marijuana policies in Canada in October 2018, Canadians who are 18 years of age or older would be will be able legally to possess or share with others a limited amount of legal cannabis. Furthermore they will be able to buy cannabis from provincially-licensed retailer or grow cannabis (in limited quantitates) at home and make products out of it.

That poses many questions from the insurance perspective that Canadians are asking. Here are answers to the key ones. Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask them below and we will add them to the list together with a reply.

How do insurance companies treat marijuana patients?

With medical marijuana being so popular among patients and the laws in Canada changing.  Insurance companies have dramatically changed they way they underwrite Marijuana use.  

Today marijuana users can easily apply for life insurance as per Pamela Kwiatkowski, Former Vice President at Assumption Life (see the video below).  

There is a plethora of options for marijuana users. Coverage depends mainly on how much and how often one is using marijuana; these factors will determine the rate and the type of coverage for the individual.

When applying, you may be asked to complete a drug questionnaire, as well as other various tests to determine if your policy will be issued as regular non-smoker rates or if you will have to pay a higher rating on your policy (meaning you pay a higher premium).

You may also want to look at a No Medical Life Insurance, where you won’t need to complete any medical tests.  More on that below .

I am an OCCASIONAL marijuana user – what will my life insurance rates look like?

Premiums for marijuana users may be based on the amount of marijuana a user consumes. Each case is different, but an average marijuana user some who uses two joints a week can often qualify for standard term life insurance (or other insurance types such as whole life insurance or universal life insurance) with non-smoker rates. Excessive marijuana users could be charged a higher premium since they are deemed to be riskier to insure.

How many joints can you consume per week and still be considered a standard non-smoker?

Typically, it would be two joints per week. If you consume more than 2 joints per week, most companies will consider you a non-smoker but you may be rated (i.e. charged an extra premium due to the deemed extra risk of excessive marijuana use)

I am a DAILY marijuana user – what will my life insurance rates look like?

In many cases you might be not able to get standard life insurance rates but you can still get no medical life insurance that does not involve any medical tests. It is important though that in this case your premiums will be higher and your maximum coverage will be more limited than traditional fully underwritten life insurance policies

Can you ingest marijuana (i.e. edibles) and how much to be considered a non-smoker?

Typically, it would be the equivalent of two joints per week (same as smoking).

Am I tested for marijuana and other drugs when getting life insurance?

If you are applying for the standard life insurance policy which means better rates and large coverages, insurers often require you to complete a urine and/or blood test. That allows them to help determine if you provided truthful information about your marijuana habits. 

You can also go the no medical life insurance route. You will not have to complete a medical and you will be asked less questions.  No Medical policies can be broken down into two types: Simplified Issue have no medical tests and a short series of health questions and Guaranteed Issue Insurance policies (have no medical tests and a no health questions) They do not offer the same level of coverage though as a standard life insurance.  No Medical, Simplified Issue policies now offer higher face amounts than in the past and are often capped at $200,000 to $500,000 of coverage.  No Medical, Guaranteed Issue policies usually offer Face Amounts in $25,000 to $50,000 range.

It is going without saying that these policies are more expensive (in terms of the same coverage) than standard life insurance policies and can be a subject to a “no-benefits” period, e.g. 2 years during which no claim will be paid, should something happen to you.

What questions related to marijuana will insurers ask me?

Here are some typical questions you can expect to see on Marijuana usage.

Marijuana Life Insurance Questions, examples – Assumption Life

1. Have you ever used any drug(s)? If yes, please indicate which of the following applies to you

  • Marijuana mixed with nicotine or hashish mixed with nicotine
  • Marijuana (cannabis, dope, hooch, grass, pot, hashish, THC, etc.)

2. Please provide following data as related to the previous question: 

a) Type(s), Quantity, Frequency, Date first used, Date last used

b) If you have answered yes to marijuana usage, please specify 

  • Non-prescribed use
  • Medicinal use as prescribed by a healthcare professional (If you selected this option, please specify the reason for the prescription)

3. Have you ever consulted a doctor or received treatment because of any drug use? Yes/ No (If yes, indicate the dates and names of physicians, hospitals or treatment centers involved.)

4. Have you ever lost your job, been charged with impaired driving or been arrested due to the influence of alcohol or drug(s)? Yes / No (If yes, please give details)

Marijuana Life Insurance Questions, examples – BMO Insurance

1. Are you using or have you ever used any of the following, other than prescribed and supervised by a physician? Yes/No

  • Cannabis, Marijuana, ‘Hashish’, ‘Pot’, ‘Weed’, etc.

2. For all drug(s) used please provide full details (includes type, usual quantity, frequency of use, dates used: from – to)

3. Have you ever consulted a doctor, been recommended for or received treatment or counselling for drug abuse? Yes/No (If Yes, please provide names and addresses of doctors, hospitals, and institutions consulted, with dates in each instance)

4. Have you ever been hospitalized ore treated for a drug overdose? Yes/No (If Yes, please provide dates and details)

5. Have you ever suffered any medical condition or impairment related to your drug usage, e.g. hepatitis, HIV, mental health disorder, etc.? Yes/No (If Yes, please provide dates and details)

6. Are you / have you ever been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or a similar association? Yes/No (If Yes, please provide full details including dates of each occurrence)

7. Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any drug or alcohol related offence, including driving under influence, reckless driving, or ever had your driver’s license suspended or been required to attend drug or alcohol awareness programs ordered by the court? Yes/No (If Yes, please provide full details including dates of each occurrence)

8. Have your job duties been affected or restricted in any way or have you missed any time from work or school because of your drug use? Yes/No (If Yes, please provide dates and details)

What companies sell life insurance to marijuana users?

With the decriminalization of marijuana in Canada a few years back, two major life insurance companies, Sun Life and BMO Insurance, decided to treat cannabis users as non-smokers. This decision reversed a long-standing policy and offered many marijuana users far lower premiums as researches showed that marijuana use does not have the same health implications as tobacco. 

Other companies quickly followed suit and now virtually every insurer offers non-smoker rates to infrequent marijuana users.

What will change in the life insurance and marijuana topic as of October 2018?

Insures may offer more detailed questions as part of their application and may change their protocol in terms of how much coverage they allow.

I have been denied life insurance because of marijuana use – what can I do?

You could apply with another traditional fully underwritten carrier as different insurance companies have different protocols and sometimes have different reinsurers who they share the risk with. Our life insurance specialists can help you to get traditional life insurance.

As mentioned above you can also go with simplified Issue life insurance policies. These policies have no medical tests and a series of health questions) or guaranteed issue insurance policies which have no medical tests and a no health questions. These no medical life insurance policies have lower face amounts (i.e. coverage) and may have a 2-year-waiting period on the death benefit (i.e. no claim is possible within the first two years).