Within the past few years, marijuana use has become much more widely accepted and legalized in many states. However, in the past, life insurance companies weren’t as accepting of its usage. So how has that changed in recent years?
Many people who use medical or recreational marijuana are afraid to apply for life insurance because they think they’ll either be declined or receive a higher monthly premium. However, that may not be the case.
Keep reading to learn about the evolving marijuana guidelines, which companies are best for users, and tips to get the best rates.
Quick Article Guide:
- Marijuana’s History in the United States
- The Evolving Guidelines for Marijuana
- Which Life Insurance Companies are Best?
- Tips to Get the Best Rates
- Questions? We Can Help!
The production of marijuana started as early as the 17th century, used for the production of rope, sails, and clothing. It later went on to also be used as a popular ingredient in medicinal products.
It wasn’t used recreationally, however, until after the Mexican Revolution in 1910, when a flood of Mexican immigrants came into the United States and introduced it to Americans. The drug became associated with the immigrants, and got a negative connotation after the Great Depression hit.
Americans began blaming the immigrants for the rise in unemployment, and started rallying against marijuana. By 1931, 29 states had outlawed the drug. In 1937, marijuana was declared illegal, and remained that way until 2012 when Colorado and Washington first legalized it for recreational use. As of November 2018, 10 states and Washington, D.C. have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21 years of age. In addition, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.
These recent changes have impacted the life insurance world as well. While underwriters used to be more strict when it came to marijuana, many companies have recently altered their underwriting rules to emulate these changes. With that said, let’s move onto the evolution of life insurance guidelines in regards to marijuana.
Like stated previously, life insurance companies have recently changed their outlook on marijuana and what it means in regards to your health. According to a survey conducted by the Munich American Reassurance Company in April 2015, out of 150 insurance underwriters, about one third of the companies do not consider occasional marijuana use as harmful as tobacco use. If you’re not familiar with policy pricing, tobacco life insurance rates are much higher than normal rates (3-5x more expensive), so this is a big win for marijuana users!
Now keep in mind, this doesn’t apply to all life insurance companies. Some still consider marijuana use to be similar to tobacco use, and will treat it as such. This is why it’s so important to work with an independent agent who has access to dozens of life insurance companies, who can place you with the best-fitting company after hearing about your lifestyle and health.
If you are a cigar smoker or e-smoker, please read our article “Life Insurance for Cigar and E-Smokers.”
It goes a little deeper than just the use of marijuana, however. When you apply for life insurance and undergo the underwriting process, they will ask how frequently you use marijuana. Companies typically tend to be the most lenient with clients who smoke or ingest it no more than twice a week.
If you are a daily marijuana user, the underwriter might classify you as a “heavy user,” and possibly result in you being placed in the “smoker” category, even with companies who are more lenient with marijuana users. If this is the case, having a medical recommendation/medical card for marijuana can help.
With a medical recommendation, clients may be able to qualify for preferred rates (which are way less expensive than smokers rates!). Keep in mind, however, that underwriters will take other things into account – like any other health issues you may have, your driving record, family history, etc. – before assigning you to a rate class.
They’ll also look at what you’re using the medical marijuana for; companies are typically more lenient with a client using it for glaucoma, headaches, insomnia, or menstrual pains, as these are not life threatening issues.
If you are using marijuana for a more serious health condition, like cancer, the company is going to be more concerned with the cancer and the risk that comes with that versus the marijuana use. In addition, companies also consider the way the drug is being used – some are more lenient with applicants who ingest marijuana as edibles or use it as a topical medication.
It is very important that you are upfront with your independent agent when discussing your use. Knowing the truth from the beginning can help the agent to match you with the right company, rather than finding out about the truth later on when your medical exam results come back.
Not all companies are created equally when it comes to evaluating marijuana use. Recreational users won’t typically qualify for “preferred” rates, but there are more lenient companies that will give them a non-smoking/non-tobacco “standard” rating or better.
Remember, companies take more into account than just marijuana use. And even if a life insurance company is more lax with their marijuana guidelines, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit for you. Make sure you speak with an independent agent to ensure that you place your application with the right company.
Below are some of the top-rated life insurance companies that are more accepting when it comes to marijuana usage.
This company doesn’t require a medical exam and gives a non-smoker rating to users regardless of frequency – but the applicant must live in a state that has legalized marijuana. Daily users can qualify for Standard Non-Smoker rates, and those who use up to 3x/week can possibly qualify for Preferred rates (especially for those who are a bit older and are completely honest about their usage).
If you are a user in a state that hasn’t legalized marijuana, they will allow a Standard Non-Smoker rating as long as there’s no more than 1 “dose”/day; any more than that would result in a decline. If you are using medicinal marijuana, your rating depends on the medical reason you’re using it, but it’s still possible to qualify for non-smoker rates.
At AIG, if you use marijuana 2x a year, you can still qualify for Preferred Best Non-Smoker rates. If you use up to twice a month, you can qualify for Standard Non-Smoker rates. Applicants who use marijuana more than twice a month will qualify for tobacco rates, and may be rated Table B or higher (the same applies to ingestibles). Unfortunately, daily users will be declined. Medicinal marijuana use must be documented in the applicant’s APS with an underlying condition for the Rx, and they will be rated depending on what the underlying condition is.
Marijuana users who use up to once per day can qualify for Standard Smoker rates with Assurity.
Those who use up to 2x a week can qualify for Standard Tobacco at AXA. Daily users (recreational or medicinal) will qualify for Table 2 ratings, although medicinal users will be individually considered.
Banner allows those who occasionally use marijuana (up to 2x/week) to qualify for a Standard Smoker rate – this includes ingestibles. Admitted and non-admitted daily users will qualify for Table 2 ratings, and medicinal users will qualify for Standard to Table 2 ratings, depending on the frequency.
Recreational users (up to 3x/month) can qualify for Standard Tobacco ratings at Fidelity. If the applicant has used marijuana any time in the past 12 months, they will also qualify for Standard Tobacco rates. Medicinal users will be individually considered; unfortunately, daily users will be declined.
For any applicant who applies with Foresters, whether it be a fully underwritten or non-med application, he/she will receive a smoker rate for any marijuana use. If the applicant’s frequency is greater than 16x/month (4x/week), he/she will be declined.
Applicants who use 8x/month will qualify for Standard Smoker; any more than that would be rated depending on frequency. However, use over 16x/month will result in a decline. With Genworth, it doesn’t matter if you have a medical card or not – both will be rated in the same context.
If an applicant uses up to 4x/month with negative lab results for THC, they can qualify for Preferred Non-Smoker rates. If the lab results come back positive, the applicant will likely qualify for Standard Smoker at best. Daily users will be rated very low, if an offer is given at all. Similar to Genworth, Rx users will be treated no differently than recreational users.
For applicants who only use marijuana once a month, they may still possibly qualify for Preferred Best Non-Smoker rates. Up to 2x/week users can qualify for Preferred Non-Smoker; up to 3-4x/week results in Standard Non-Smoker (at best). Use of 4-6x/week results in a Table 2-4 rating, and daily use will result in Table 4-6 rating at best, with a possibility of a decline.
If the applicant sells or grows marijuana at all, it will result in a decline. Medicinal users are determined on a case by case basis – their health concern must be a Standard risk.
At Metlife, applicants who use up to 4x/week can possibly qualify for their ElitePlus rating; they do not test for marijuana on their labs. Daily users can qualify for Table 2 Non-Smoker rates, and medicinal users are typically Standard Smoker ratings unless their cause is rateable.
Marijuana users who use occasionally/recreationally can qualify for Preferred Non-Smoker rates. If the applicant’s lab results come back positive for THC, they will qualify for Table 3 Smoker rates; Rx users will also generally qualify for Table 3 rates. Daily users will usually result in a decline.
Mutual of Omaha
Applicants who use marijuana up to once a week can qualify for Standard Non-Smoker rates (as long as their HOS/THC results reflect the same). If they use more frequently, or their HOS level indicates more frequent use, then Smoker rates will apply. Daily users will unfortunately result in a decline. Medicinal users will be rated for cause, but generally will qualify for Table 4 rates at best.
Applicants who apply with Nationwide can qualify for Preferred Smoker rates with use up to 5x/month. Heavy recreational use (4x/week or more) will likely result in a decline, as will daily use. Medicinal users can qualify for Standard Tobacco rates (based on cause), if the health cause is serious, the rating could be lower.
For applicants 21-years-old and up, they can qualify for Standard Non-Smoker rates for up to 2-3x/week of use, as long as their HOS results come back negative for nicotine; depending on the reason for usage, there won’t be testing for THC. If the applicant is under the age of 21, they will qualify for Tobacco rates. Daily users will be declined, and medicinal users will qualify for Standard rates and up. Any involvement in the industry will also result in a decline.
If someone applies with Principal and uses marijuana 1-2x/month recreationally (at max), he/she may qualify for Standard Non-Smoker rates. If otherwise, it will result in a Standard Tobacco rating. Their guidelines allows up to 8-10x/month at Standard rates; more than 8x/month would be rated individually. Daily recreational users will be declined, and daily Rx users will likely be rated for the health issue more so than the marijuana use.
With Protective, Standard Tobacco rates apply for all recreational users, including ingestibles. Daily users will unfortunately be declined.
Marijuana users who partake up to 3x/week – with negative or positive HOS results – can qualify for Standard Non-Smoker rates and up. For up to 4-6x/week of use, Prudential can offer Non-Smoker Table B rates. Daily users will be declined. Marijuana use does not allow for the inclusion of the Waiver of Premium or Additional Death Benefit in the policy; rateable marijuana use does not allow for the Benefit Access Rider. Medicinal use is rated for cause – if no other narcotics are used, the applicant can possibly qualify for Preferred Best Non-Smoker rates, depending on the cause.
Marijuana users will qualify for Standard Smoker rates.
Recreational users who undergo a fully underwritten application can qualify for Standard Smoker rates with Sagicor. Daily users will be declined. Medicinal users will most likely qualify for Table 4 rates, but will be rated for cause (with a fully underwritten application). If applying for a Simplified Issue policy with Sagicor, no marijuana use is allowed, otherwise it will result in a decline.
Marijuana users who apply with SBLI will typically get Standard Smoker to Table 3 rates. For non-smoker consideration, the applicant’s use must be determined to be very rare – meaning once or twice a year. Daily users will be declined, and Rx users will be rated based on their health condition on smoker rates.
Transamerica differentiates between ingestibles and smoking marijuana. For ingested use, up to 12x/year is okay to qualify for Standard Non-Smoker rates, while 13x or more a year would get smoker rates. For users that smoke, the same applies, but it also includes any cigar use in that count. Daily users will be declined, and Rx users are under the same guidelines as above, individually considered for cause.
If applicants are 25-years-old or older, they can receive a Preferred Smoker rate with marijuana use up to 8x/month; 8-16x/month will result in a Table 2 rating, and daily use will likely result in Table 6, if an offer is possible. Medicinal users usually qualify for Table 4 rating, and it is only allowable with chronic pain, Epilepsy or MS – but again, they will be considered on an individual basis, depending on the health condition.
- If you are a marijuana user, you want to work with an experienced, independent life insurance agent who works with multiple carriers. Just because a certain company is more lenient with marijuana use does not mean that they are the right fit for you. When you work with an independent agent, they will look at your overall health and lifestyle to make sure you are matched with the best company for your specific situation.
- Be honest! It is always important to be honest and upfront with your agent when talking about your lifestyle, and that includes your marijuana usage. Many life insurance policies require you to undergo a medical exam when applying, in which the lab work will test for cannabis use. If you lie on your application and test positive in your lab work, the life insurance company may deny you coverage.
- Ask your agent to pull quotes from multiple life insurance carriers, so you can compare and receive the best price available. When you work with a local insurance agent, they typically only work with one life insurance company, so you can’t compare rates. Independent agents have access to dozens of companies, so you can be sure that you’re getting the best deal out there.
If you currently use marijuana or if you recently quit, JRC Insurance Group can help you find the most affordable life insurance option available. Whether it’s for medical purposes or recreational use, give us a call.
At JRC Insurance Group, our agents are experts with multiple years of experience. We are appointed by dozens of top-rated life insurance companies and our agents are not pushy salespeople. Our agents do not have quotas; we’re here to help. We have helped hundreds of clients, and we can help you too. Our passion is finding our clients affordable life insurance coverage to protect their families.
Give us a call today we would love to help! Toll free: 855-247-9555, or request a free quote here.
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