Life insurance is more accessible to obtain and less expensive when you lead a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle. If you smoke weed and want a life insurance policy, you may be concerned about how this could affect the chances of getting coverage. If you're a current or former marijuana user, you may be eligible for life insurance, although the rate could be higher.
Here's what to expect from this article:
Enrollment: how cannabis can affect your life insurance
Insurers: what they want to know
Saving on costs: what cannabis users can do to find affordable coverage
How does smoking weed impact your life insurance?
Smoking weed is less likely to impact your ability to purchase a life insurance policy than it is to impact your monthly rates. This applies to states that have legalized marijuana and those where it remains a prohibited substance. In many cases, marijuana use will not have the same consequences on premiums compared to other substances like alcohol or nicotine. It doesn't pose the same health threats as other substances, and it can be used to help with specific medical issues.
What insurers look for when determining rates for marijuana users
When life insurance companies ask if you smoke marijuana, it doesn't end with a single yes-or-no question. Insurers delve deeper because multiple layers go along with using any substance. They aim to tailor premiums to lifestyle, health, and other factors to ensure each individual gets a fair rate.
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Frequency of use
Frequency of use may have the most significant impact on premiums since it can make the difference between being classified as a smoker or a nonsmoker. If you're classified as a smoker, your premiums can be much higher compared to someone who doesn't smoke. Insurance companies typically assign nonsmoking rates to those whose marijuana consumption doesn't exceed a certain number of times per week, month, or year. Some may even classify cannabis users as nonsmokers regardless of how often they consume it.
Whether use is medicinal or recreational
Many life insurance companies are lenient on recreational use, but not all are like this. Some insurance companies require proof that the marijuana is prescribed to the individual by a physician.
Marijuana is commonly smoked via bongs, joints, pipes, or other smoking devices, but its mode of consumption isn't exclusive to smoke inhalation. There are favorable alternatives - namely edibles - that don't cause problems like lung tissue scarring and small blood vessel harm. Cannabis may be consumed through electronic vaping devices and oil concentrates, but this may cause premiums to be higher than smoking due to the increased chances of contaminants and additives.
Tips on finding affordable life insurance policies for marijuana users
Here are some ways that marijuana users can get the best rates on life insurance:
- Be upfront about your marijuana use. You put yourself at a greater risk for policy rejection when you fail to mention your marijuana use during your life insurance application.
- Get an independent agent. An independent agent can help expedite the selection process because they will know which companies will be the most lenient toward marijuana users. This will help save you the time you would otherwise spend researching this independently.
- Limit your marijuana use. Insurance companies look at the frequency of use, not just whether an individual consumes cannabis. The frequency matters because this can be the difference between being classified as a smoker or a nonsmoker. Smokers pay substantially higher rates, but if your use meets the confines of your insurer's criteria for nonsmoker classification (e.g., using marijuana no more than twice per week), you can be classified as a non-smoker and pay lower rates.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Cannabis use isn't going to overshadow your application. Other details about your health will be considered, including health conditions. Specific lifestyle changes can help you qualify for lower premiums.
- Avoid using other substances. A cannabis user who also smokes cigarettes or drinks alcohol regularly will likely have higher premiums than someone who only uses marijuana. This also reduces the number of health risks.
- If you smoke, switch to other methods of consumption. Smoking is not harmless. If you smoke, you may be better off switching to an alternative consumption method, such as edibles.
- Shop around. You may encounter more than one life insurance company with a relaxed stance on marijuana use, but if you look closely, you may find one is more affordable than the rest. Or, you may even find a company that assigns nonsmoking rates to marijuana users regardless of how often they use it, while other options have limits on how often someone can smoke cannabis to get nonsmoker rates.
Why marijuana use may be a concern for insurers
Marijuana use can be a concern in part due to its current status as a Schedule 1 substance, indicating that it has no medical use and has a high potential for abuse. Although cannabis may be considered by some to be a "softer" drug, it is not entirely harmless.
Marijuana can have the following effects:
- Impaired coordination
Distorted perception of time
- Memory issues
These effects are temporary and aren't fatal in and of themselves. However, if someone were to be driving or operating heavy machinery, being under the influence of marijuana could prove to be dangerous. That's not to say insurance companies automatically assume a policyholder would put themselves at risk, but it does explain why insurance companies are concerned with individuals who have had DUIs resulting from marijuana use.
Marijuana use can come with serious risks, such as stroke, heart disease, and the development of mental health disorders. When consumed, marijuana increases blood pressure and heart rate, both of which contribute to strokes and heart issues. Some individuals may develop mental health problems such as schizophrenia, social anxiety, or depression.
Why marijuana isn't a dealbreaker for getting life insurance
When looking at the effects and possible outcomes of marijuana use, smoking marijuana can appear to be a high-risk activity at first glance. Legal substances like alcohol and tobacco have their issues, too, and they can lead to death. In contrast, some may find it hard to quit smoking marijuana after becoming habitual users, which merely represents 3 out of 10 individuals. Compare this to the FDA's finding on cigarette smokers, in which almost 3 out of 4 have expressed a desire to quit. Also, marijuana has no fatal withdrawal symptoms like there are with other substances.
The tides are turning as the cultural attitude toward marijuana use shifts toward acceptance. It was once illegal in all U.S. states, and now it's legal in states like Colorado. Insurance companies are much less likely to reject applicants based on marijuana use, as opposed to harder drugs (i.e., methamphetamine and heroin).
Not only that, but even though it's currently a schedule 1 controlled substance, certain individuals are prescribed marijuana for conditions such as:
Tobacco products, on the other hand, are not prescribed for any medical use but instead are the direct cause of various types of cancer. This disparity in long-term severe health complications could be why roughly 29 percent of insurance companies classify marijuana users as nonsmokers (although, in most cases, this hinges on the frequency of use).
In short, life insurance is attainable and affordable for cannabis users. Those who regularly consume marijuana have no reason to avoid disclosing their use, especially given that the consequences of lying far outweigh the downsides of telling the truth.
Would disclosing marijuana use jeopardize my employment or cause legal issues?
If you're anxious about informing an insurer about your marijuana use, you have nothing to worry about as far as legal and employment consequences. The information you share with insurance companies is confidential; legally, they cannot share personal details with employers or police officers without your consent due to HIPAA laws.
Does life insurance test for weed?
Most life insurance companies will test an applicant's blood and urine as part of the medical exam. If an insurer finds that there's marijuana in the applicant's system, the decision to accept or deny the policy isn't dependent on the presence of THC. What matters is whether the individual disclosed their marijuana use. Using marijuana typically won't result in policy denial, but lying about marijuana use can cause a person's life insurance application to be rejected.
What can happen if I lie about my marijuana use?
If your marijuana use is revealed after the medical examination to enroll in the policy, you may be denied coverage. After you obtain a policy, your beneficiaries may not receive the death benefit if your insurer finds that you had lied about your status as a marijuana user.
Marijuana use is unlikely to result in policy denial. You're more likely to be rejected if you falsely claim that you don't smoke marijuana.
There are many factors that insurers consider when a policyholder uses marijuana. The frequency of consumption, whether the use is medicinal or recreational, and how it's ingested are possible criteria that insurers may use to determine rates.
Smoking weed isn't necessarily harmless, as it does come with health risks. However, it doesn't have the same negative impact on your rates (and health) that consuming other substances would cause.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. Marijuana/Cannabis
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What We Know About Marijuana.
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Cigarettes.
- Florida Atlantic University. FAU study first to show statewide cannabis-related deaths in Florida.
- JRC Insurance Group. How Marijuana Affects Life Insurance Rates.
- Fidelity Life. Life Insurance for Marijuana Users.
- Haven Life. Does Marijuana Use Affect Your Life Insurance Premium?
- Haven Life. Can a life insurance claim be denied for drug use?