Drug use has become a lot less taboo over the years, especially since marijuana has become legal. How does drug use affect life insurance rates and insurability?
Life Insurance And Marijuana
In years past, marijuana users in Canada received smoking rates for their life insurance policies – this was true even if you used marijuana even once in the past year.
Many marijuana users objected to this based on the logic that marijuana usage didn’t cause cancer or have the health impacts that tobacco smoking does. And, they were/are correct.
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However life insurance companies didn’t charge smoking premiums to marijuana users because of the similarity to cancer-causing impacts of marijuana use-age. Marijuana usage at the time was correlated with other insurability concerns including things such as criminal elements (having to get marijuana from illegal places) and impacts on nervous disorders such as schizophrenia. These insurability concerns were similar enough statistically to tobacco smoking that it was easier to just assign smoking premiums and treat it as such – the premiums would be similar and there was less objection from consumers.
But a few years ago, in conjunction with the legalization of marijuana in Canada, some life insurance companies undertook a marketing initiative to allow recreational marijuana users to receive non-smoking premiums. This change is overwhelmingly a marketing initiative and not completely supported by the statistics (there’s still some insurability concerns even with recreational marijuana) but it’s popularity and success have translated into the fact that most Canadian life insurance companies today will offer recreational marijuana smokers non-smoking premiums. This translates into life insurance actually being a bargain for recreational marijuana smokers – premiums are cheaper than they technically should be.
What exactly qualifies as recreational use varies from company to company, but usage does include all forms of use – including smoking, vaping, and edibles. Typically one to two times a week will qualify at non-smoker premiums, use much above those levels will still incur smoking premiums. Thus when you complete your medical history interview you’ll be asked about full details including amounts and frequency of usage.
The other related factor with marijuana is the purpose of the use. If it’s for relaxation or recreational use, then the above guidelines will apply. However if you’re using marijuana for medical purposes, then the medical conditions themselves can impact – both positively and negatively – your application. For example, if you have lifestyle altering and debilitating headaches that are ‘cured’ by using marijuana, then while the headaches might be a negative insurability factor, the use of marijuana can actually be a positive factor in underwriting, as it mitigates the concerns over headaches. As you can imagine, these cases are handled individually so it’s difficult for us to generalize.
Life Insurance And Hard Drugs
Hard drugs are treated differently and much more severely than marijuana. They are still perceived by the life insurance industry as a substantial underwriting risk. If you have used hard drugs even once in the last five years, companies will treat that as a full decline until 5 years have passed. The exception to this would be that in some cases, no-medical exam life insurance policies may be available. As no-medical exam policies vary substantially in what they look for, an individual consultation with Life Insurance Canada.com’s advisors would be warranted. Please contact us, and we’ll review your individual circumstances and make a recommendation for a suitable policy.
Life Insurance And Mushrooms
Currently mushrooms would fall under the category of hard drugs, and likely result in a decline for a full featured regular life insurance policy. However with what looks to be pending legalization in many places over the mid-term, it’s possible that companies may change their stance on mushrooms, as they did with marijuana. Be aware however that it generally takes life insurance companies years to compile statistics and make this type of change so while it may happen in the future, we don’t expect it to change in the near term.
Life Insurance And Other Stimulants
There are a variety of stimulants used worldwide that are less common in westernized cultures (i.e. commonly found in Canada). An example of this would be betel nuts or betel leaves – something that some people chew as a stimulant or as a cultural practice. These stimulants are an insurability concern, and will sometimes result in smoking premiums.
Another example of cultural use of stimulants is First Nation’s ceremonial use of tobacco. By default, life insurance companies treat any use of tobacco as smoking premiums – even if only used infrequently, and only in ceremonies. There is a partial solution in this case however – a few companies offer ‘preferred smoker’ premiums to people who use tobacco only rarely and only for ceremonial use. Those policies have premiums between smoking and non-smoking premiums so while not completely recognizing that this use doesn’t appear to be a huge insurability risk, at least it’s part of the way there. Feel welcome to contact us here at Life Insurance Canada.com if you would like a custom quote for circumstances such as these or book a call with one of our life insurance specialists.