When quoting someone life insurance who may have been associated with recreational drug use, “the times, they are a-changin”. When it comes to the use of recreational drugs in Canada the legalization of marijuana has lead to many people being more open about the use of cannabis products. Be it recreational use or for treatment of chronic conditions the open use of marijuana and its derivatives in Canada are definitely ‘a-changin’. A question that we are often faced with is whether or not a recreational drug user can get life insurance. As always, the answer is not a clear-cut yes or no, so let’s look at the options.
First we should divide drug use into categories. The ‘softer’ side would be use of something like cannabis. The ‘harder’ side is things along the lines of cocaine or heroin. Use of different types of drugs will lead you to different life insurance outcomes.
With softer drugs you are on a far more easy path to getting life insurance. Historically if you smoked marijuana you were looking at either an outright decline or smoker rates for coverage as a baseline and rates went up from there depending on the frequency that you used. This stance has lightened recently with some major Canadian insurers offering non-smoker rates to marijuana users if they consume below a threshold amount per week. This is due to increased research showing that smoking a cannabis product may not have the same long-term health effects that nicotine does. There is also the chance that cannabis is being consumed as an edible. This has also lead to the availability of nonsmoker rates for cannabis users.
Now to answer the more difficult question. What about harder drugs? The first thing to remember is that timing is important. If you currently use, or have used hard drugs within the past 5 years many traditional insurance companies will decline coverage. Many insurers will ask about this particular habit with a 10 year time frame. With the fact that many hard drug users face a reduced life expectancy you can expect that answering yes to these questions will result in a minimum of extra premium being requested. There is also the chance of an outright decline for coverage.
This leaves the non-traditional market as an option. No medical life insurance policies (simplified issue, guarantee issue or deferred life) will be a way to get some insurance if you are turned down elsewhere… You just have to be prepared to pay for it. These products carry a higher premium (cost of the policy) because people that have factors in their lives that have made traditional life insurance policies not an option often purchase them.
Whether you party like a rock star from the 60’s or a hair band from the 80’s, life insurance is still an option. Just be ready for choices in the past to influence the options you have today.