It’s not just a stereotype – it seems that a lot of Canadians partake in marijuana on a routine social basis. Do life insurance companies have a problem with this? The answer may surprise you – in most cases life insurance companies have no problem with routine social marijuana use. Realistically if they weren’t prepared to insure marijuana users they’d be alienating a large portion of the Canadian population.
If you partake in marijuana occasionally or as infrequently as even once in the past year you should expect that the insurance company will issue your policy at smoker rates. While this is sometimes upsetting to clients, it is vital that you fully disclose all marijuana use during your application. Failure to disclose such a detail is an opportunity for the life insurance company to contest paying the death benefit should you die. In short, occasional marijuana use simply means your policy will be issued at smoker premiums.
If your marijuana use is occasional but ongoing there’s little that can be done to mitigate the smoker premiums. However if the marijuana use was one time only or in your past, you may consider applying for a short term life insurance policy until a full year has passed. Once a year has passed you can request reconsideration at nonsmoker premiums and then bump up to a longer term or permanent life insurance policy. A few companies allow this switch from short to longer term policies as a routine administrative procedure (RBC, Equitable Life, and Wawanesa for example).
If your marijuana use is heavy, say daily, then insurance companies may have a more difficult time with your application. In cases like this the marijuana use is often part of a pain management routine and the situation can be complex. In cases like this I recommend that you disclose full details to your broker and have him pre-shop your case to underwriters at a few companies. This will give you an estimate of any challenges you’re likely to face during your application, but before you do the full medical process.
This pre-shopping process is important to determine if you are likely to be declined. An actual decline (instead of just an estimate of a decline) means you may limit your other options. For example some no-medical exam life insurance policies that you may qualify for initially may no longer be an option if you’ve received a formal decline from another insurance company.
In summary, if you are a social user of marijuana you should simply expect regular life insurance at smoker premiums. If you are a heavy to daily user, you should have your broker pre-shop the market to get estimates before proceeding with a formal application.