Life Insurance and Marijuana: How do Insurers Treat Edibles and Smoking?

Posted on March 12, 2019 and updated March 15, 2019 in Life Insurance Canada News 6 min
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Recent Marijuana Changes Make Insurers Scratch Their Heads!

When marijuana laws changed in Canada last year, it had a ripple effect through several industries, including life insurance underwriting. Insurers had to come up with a solution for how to cover customers who are marijuana users.

To achieve this solution, insurers researched the following:

  • Are all marijuana users the same?
  • How much risk does marijuana represent from the insurer’s perspective when compared to traditional smoking?
  • Should joints (smoking) and edibles be treated differently?
  • What does the long-term data show about the risks, if any, between marijuana use and health?
  • Is marijuana habit-forming and if so, should it be considered an addiction risk?
  • Does the amount per use and frequency per week matter?
  • What are the differentiators between medical and recreational use?

We dug deeper into these topics to understand the details of offering insurance to people who use marijuana either for medication or recreational purposes. We also requested replies from several insurance companies, asking them how they view marijuana/cannabis consumption cases and how term life insurance, whole life insurance and other insurance products are provided for marijuana users.

Also, please feel free to review our detailed life insurance guide for marijuana users.

Not All Insurers Treat Joints and Edibles Equally

Interestingly, not all insurers treat joints and edibles as the same product! This is where you should pay close attention as a customer because this fact will strongly impact your premiums and ability to qualify for less expensive policies.

Here are the two approaches insurers choose:

  1. Joints and edibles are the same
    This means, if you consumer marijuana in any from more frequently than a pre-defined threshold, the insurer will consider you an increased risk, similar to smokers.
  1. Consumption of edibles is not considered smoking
    In this case a customer will be deemed a non-smoker even if he/she uses marijuana daily. That relates not only to edibles, but also to other non-smoking marijuana intakes such as oils. An example of a company that treats their customers in this way is Canada Protection Plan (CPP).

How Much Marijuana is too Much for Insurers?

There is a clear difference between being an occasional marijuana user lightning up a joint once a month versus a daily user. In the past, insurance companies defined a risk threshold by two joints/marijuana intakes per week. Meanwhile, some insurers are more relaxed and accept four intakes per week. Again, that is different from insurer to insurer and working with an experienced insurance broker will help to find the best policy for your situation.

What happens if you are a more “active” marijuana consumer? Well, in this case be prepared to pay extra for your insurance plan as your insurer would see you being as risky as a smoker.

Which Companies are Offering Insurance Products to Cannabis Users?

In the past there were just two insurers who were treating cannabis users as non-smokers: Sun Life and BMO Insurance. Meanwhile the situation has changed and now virtually every insurer treats infrequent marijuana users as non-smokers, allowing them to benefit from lower rates.

However, remember that the definition of “infrequent marijuana/cannabis user” varies from company to company and typically is in the range of 2-4 intakes per week.

The way insurers determine if you are a cannabis user and how much you consume is based on urine and blood tests, which you need to take as a part of an application process; but, there are also other policies available to you that do not involve a medical test. We will talk about them in a moment.

What Insurance Options are Available?

Based on your situation, there are three scenarios:

Scenario #1: If you are an infrequent user you will be able to qualify for standard life insurance with non-smoker rates (the most affordable option). Example: A female (35 years old) who gets coverage of $200,000 in standard life insurance for non-smokers will pay $16 monthly for her policy.

Scenario #2: If you are a frequent user (more than four intakes per week), an insurer will consider you a smoker and you will probably be able to qualify for standard rated life insurance with smoker rates (approximately double that of non-smoker rates). Example: A female (35 years old) who gets a coverage of $200,000 in standard life insurance for smokers will pay $32 monthly for her policy.

Scenario #3: In both previous scenarios an insurer will request medical tests including a urine/blood analysis. Should you decide to look for a policy that does not involve this test, you will need no medical life insurance (either simplified issue no medical life insurance or guaranteed issue life insurance). The simplified issue policy will still require you to answer some basic health questions. A guaranteed policy has no questions and no medical exam. In either case, simplified and guaranteed policies have higher premiums, as the insurer is assuming greater risk on your behalf. Example: A 35-year-old female, non-smoker, who gets a coverage of $200,000 with a no medical life insurance policy (simplified issue) will pay $49 monthly.

What’s the Best Way to Choose a Policy?

A life insurance broker sells the policies of numerous insurers in Canada, so your broker knows which underwriter is right for you. Not only can your broker find the best policy, he or she will compare the prices on your options, ensuring you get the coverage you need at the best possible value. This is a free service for you. You only pay the insurance premium if you select, apply for, and obtain a policy.

Our life insurance specialists have extensive experience working with customers using marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Contact us today to learn more and get your life insurance quote.

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