How to get life insurance if I smoke pot

Coverage depends on frequency and your reason for using cannabis.

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With legalization of marijuana sweeping the nation, life insurance companies are looking more closely at the why you’re using cannabis to determine coverage. Insurance companies are cautious about coverage and may consider your chronic medical conditions when they determine coverage.

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Can I get life insurance if I use cannabis?

Many top life insurance companies insure cannabis users, but tend to be cautious about coverage.

Insurance providers care about how frequently you smoke and what you use cannabis for, not necessarily if you use it occasionally for recreation. The reason for this is that an underlying health problem may be more serious of a risk than casual cannabis use.

As the legal framework for marijuana evolves, so will life insurance underwriting.

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How does the law come into play?

The life insurance industry has eased up on marijuana use in recent years as states across the country have legalized or decriminalized it.

How do I increase my chances of approval?

You can improve your chances of approval and potentially cut your premiums by doing the following:

  • Find a company that considers you a nonsmoker. Some insurance companies will raise the premiums of smokers to over two times than that of nonsmokers. Others won’t consider you a smoker if you occasionally and recreationally use marijuana. During your research, look at more lenient providers like Lincoln National.
  • Don’t lie on your application. Lying on your application can deny your beneficiaries a payout. Plus, if you take a medical exam, the blood and urine tests will pick up on any marijuana in your system. To avoid being denied coverage, be upfront about your marijuana use from the start.
  • Take the time to compare providers. Think about using a broker to help you find an insurer that will accept your marijuana use. Since brokers aren’t tied to a particular provider, they may be able to offer more options.
  • Send a cover letter. Explain why and how often you use marijuana. This will support your case and give the underwriter a clearer idea of how to approach your policy.

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How do life insurers classify cannabis use?

How insurers classify cannabis use depends on how often you use it and what you use it for. Similar to tobacco use, it’s classified as a higher risk the more often you use it.

Medical cannabis use is likely to be scrutinized for what it’s treating. If it’s used for chronic medical conditions including long-term pain, anxiety and Crohn’s Disease, coverage is determined based on it the conditions, rather than the use of cannabis to treat it. Those who use it medically are less likely to be considered smokers.

Recreational cannabis use could classify you as a smoker if you use it often. Underwriters consider the frequency — the more you smoke cannabis, the more likely an insurer will consider you a smoker.

How will cannabis use affect my premiums?

Luckily, cannabis doesn’t always heavily affect your risk profile. Your premiums rise or fall based on your overall insurance rating, determined by your risk profile.

Ratings won’t be the same across every insurance provider. One insurer may consider use more than once a week worth slapping on smoker rates, while another may approve up to two times a week as a nonsmoker.

Here are a few ways using cannabis may affect your premiums:

  • How often cannabis is used. Frequency can be a huge determining factor, especially for recreational use. Heavy use will likely increase your premiums more than occasional or experimental use.
  • Recreational versus medical use. Medical use is considered to be less of a risky behavior overall by several providers, but calls into question what it’s treating. A mix of prescription cannabis paired with opioids are likely going to be evaluated more harshly than just the medicinal cannabis.
  • The medical condition it’s treating. Cancer or multiple sclerosis will be weighed more seriously than appetite loss on the scale of conditions cannabis is used to treat.
  • How cannabis is consumed. Smoking will likely be evaluated more harshly than edibles or vaporizers by some providers.
  • Other risk profile factors. DUI and DWI offenses on your record along with frequent alcohol use, substance abuse and psychiatric conditions affect how your cannabis use is seen by some insurers.

Bottom line

Use of cannabis won’t get your application dismissed out of hand with several providers. Make the effort to compare insurers carefully to get the best premiums and reduce the chance of being considered a smoker. You may not be able to get a nonsmoker rate, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be denied altogether.

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