What Marijuana Smokers Need to Know About Life Insurance

4 Mins read

Certain habits like smoking can affect your ability to qualify for life insurance. This can be a problem for those who use marijuana medically and want to have a policy in place to protect their dependents and loved ones. 

Does marijuana smoking negatively affect your insurance rates, and do insurers investigate your smoking habits? Well, keep reading to find out. We’re going to go over some of the basic things everyone should know about life insurance for marijuana smokers.

Marijuana Use Will Not Always Disqualify You from Life Insurance

Depending on the insurance provider, you may have more trouble getting life insurance if you use marijuana. Some providers may simply charge you higher rates. However, this largely depends on whether you only smoke cannabis and don’t use tobacco.

Marijuana doesn’t cause lung cancer, so some providers do not view it as high-risk as smoking. However, smoking ground-up marijuana can harm your lungs in a similar way that tobacco does, although with perhaps less permanent consequences.

What complicates this is whether marijuana use counts as smoking, as usually identifying as a smoker means you smoke cigarettes or otherwise consume nicotine.

Currently, though, many life insurance providers will ask you whether you smoke or use tobacco products, and may keep a lookout for use of products including cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff. 

Life Insurance Rates Don’t Always Change for Marijuana Users

Your rates will vary depending on many factors, including demographics such as gender, age, and medical history. Not every marijuana user will have the same rate.

As a general rule, tobacco users and smokers face higher rates than nonsmokers, but since marijuana doesn’t have the same risks, your rates may be slightly lower than those of smokers, even if they are higher than those of nonsmokers. 

In fact, on average, smokers pay about $400 more per year for life insurance than nonsmokers do.

Unfortunately, similar numbers and comparisons are harder to get for marijuana users, as they can vary quite a bit depending on the insurer and whether they consider your marijuana usage to be comparable to smoking. 

Discriminating Against Marijuana Users May be Illegal

In states where marijuana is legal, it is illegal for an insurer to discriminate against you if you use it. But if you are in a state where it is still illegal, you may be using marijuana with foreign substances and additives that can affect your health and medical condition.

In addition, medical marijuana is sometimes prescribed to treat pre-existing conditions that carry higher risks. So while the marijuana usage itself may not be a risk to your insurer, its associated condition might be. In this case, they will likely raise rates depending on whether you have any pre-existing conditions.

Generally, if you are using medical marijuana and you are in a state where it is legal, you cannot be discriminated against for marijuana use.

How does an insurance company know you use marijuana?

A regular drug test can detect marijuana weeks after it has been used. If you are applying for a life insurance policy that requires a paramedical exam, you will likely be given a blood test as well. These drug tests will be similar to an employment drug test, which can detect trace amounts of THC and other substances.

In addition, most insurance companies will ask you to answer various questions about your life and medical history, including questions about substance usage. It is important to answer these questions honestly, as insurers can verify your claims based on your medical history and a medical exam.

Lying on your insurance application is considered fraud and could result in loss of coverage for your beneficiaries or denied coverage, which will raise your rates further down the road.

Some companies offer no-exam insurance policies, in which case your usage may not matter as much, but they often have higher rates.

Your Insurer Cannot Report Your Substance Use

Some might worry about self-reporting marijuana usage if they live in a state where it is currently illegal. Fortunately, insurers have no reason to report you to the police.

In addition, because your underwriting process and exam is a medical examination, it legally can only be shared between you and your insurer.

This is true for many medical procedures and examinations. As a general rule, companies and providers value your honesty and transparency more than punishing lawbreakers, as that would reduce their ability to gather accurate information from applicants.

Because of this, an insurance company will not report you for using illegal substances.

What should I do if I am denied life insurance?

If you are denied, do not give up hope. Different insurers have different requirements, and just because one denies you does not mean another will. There are also no-exam life insurance policies available that don’t require any medical tests or exams.

Some insurers have medical exams but no drug tests, while others don’t care about marijuana usage. Some marijuana-friendly companies include Marcan, Metlife, AIG Life, and Transamerica Life. 

You should take time to shop around and compare quotes and underwriting processes between companies. It is better to take time to compare a company’s policies than to be denied regularly, which can raise your rates.

If your marijuana was prescribed by a doctor and it is the reason for your insurance application being denied, you can formally challenge the denial.

Marijuana Doesn’t Prevent You from Getting Life Insurance

In the end, marijuana use on its own should not prevent you from getting life insurance. While it is important to compare rates and underwriting processes, you should also look into what your state’s current stance on marijuana use is.

If you use marijuana medically and do not use or smoke other tobacco products, your rates probably won’t change too much with a decent insurer. If you have hesitated to look into life insurance because of your substance use, take the time to get preliminary quotes now. This is especially important if you have loved ones who depend on you for support.

Deborah Goldberg writes and researches for the life insurance comparison site, She is passionate about financial transparency and providing consumers with insurance advice.