Will using cannabis prevent you from getting life insurance?
Public opinion of cannabis has been on the rise. A 2017 study by Pew Research Center surveyed over 1,000 US adults and found that 61% were in favor of legalizing cannabis.
With legalization spreading across the states, the question of how cannabis will affect insurance eligibility has been coming up more regularly. Life insurance companies have been wise to this for years because of the onset of cannabis use for medical purposes. If you use cannabis regularly, find out what it could mean for you.
Can I get life insurance if I use cannabis?
Using cannabis likely isn’t going to mean that you’ll be rejected by a life insurance company automatically. Many top life insurance companies insure cannabis users.
Cannabis is legal in 29 states, nine of them allow recreational use. 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 use.
Companies that’ll insure marijuana users
How do life insurers classify cannabis use?
Life insurance underwriters assess recreational use by how much and when you last used it. 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. Often times it’s used for chronic medical conditions including long-term pain, anxiety and Crohn’s Disease. Such conditions are likely weighed more heavily against then using cannabis itself.
You may be surprised that you could be considered a nonsmoker even if you use cannabis occasionally. Underwriters consider the frequency — the more you smoke cannabis, the more likely an insurer will consider you a smoker. Those who use it medically are less likely to be considered smokers.
How will cannabis use affect my premiums?
Your premiums rise or fall based on your overall insurance rating, and your rating is determined by your risk profile. Luckily, cannabis doesn’t always heavily affect 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. The only effect that one joint in college will have is the painful memory of almost hacking up a lung.
- 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.
- What medical condition it’s treating. Cancer or multiple sclerosis will almost certainly be weighed more seriously than appetite loss on the scale of conditions cannabis is used to treat.
- How cannabis is consumed. Smoking — especially frequent 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.
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 raise the premiums of smokers to over two times than that of nonsmokers. Take the extra steps to find an insurer that doesn’t.
- Don’t lie on your application. Lying on your application and being found out can null your policy and give you a black mark with the company and other insurers it shares information with.
- Compare your options before settling. Using an agent who isn’t tied to an insurance provider can help you find an insurer that’s more likely to rate you well, despite your use.
- Send a cover letter. If you think your cannabis use will be disputed by the insurance company, submit a cover letter explaining your case. This could give the underwriter a better picture of why you use, how frequently and the last time you used it.
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.