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How using marijuana might affect your life insurance premium

If you use marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, it might affect your application and/or your policy. Here are some frequently asked questions about how pot could impact your life insurance premium.

Woman putting weed in a pipe

Over the past few years, things have really gone to pot. We mean that literally: California became the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana in 1996, and Colorado and Washington jointly (cough) legalized recreational weed in 2012. In 2014, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment forbade the Justice Department from spending money on interfering in the use of medicinal marijuana where states allow it. And today, the country has a state-by-state patchwork of laws and policies, with marijuana remaining illegal at the federal level. Support for legalizing pot recently reached an all-time high (cough, again), with 61% of respondents approving of it in a recent Pew Research Center survey.

Which brings us, of course, to life insurance. If you use marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, it might affect your application and/or your policy. We can see you have a few questions. So, here are a few answers.

I use marijuana for pleasure. Do I need to disclose that? Why (or why not)?

Yes. You need to be honest about it for the same reason you need to be honest about, say, cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption: These things affect your rates, and failure to disclose them might affect whether your beneficiaries get paid down the road. (And keep in mind, if your application process includes a blood test, your marijuana usage might turn up in the results.) Lying during your application process might disqualify you from coverage—not just from this insurer, but from all major insurers.

Interestingly, how you use it might affect your rate more than whether you use it. According to PBS, 29 percent of insurers classify marijuana users as nonsmokers, potentially allowing you to qualify for a nonsmoker rate, which is typically lower. This might depend on how often you consume marijuana, too.

And get this: Not so long ago, disclosing marijuana use might have disqualified you for coverage altogether. However, for the most part, those days are behind us.

I use marijuana for medical reasons. Do I need to disclose that? Why (or why not)?

Yes. In this sense, pot is like any other medicine. It’s not so much the fact that you’re using it, but the fact that there’s an underlying reason—i.e., the medical condition you are treating—that could affect your rate. As with any other illness, you need to disclose it because it could affect your rates as well as any eventual payout.

Am I putting myself at risk by disclosing that I use marijuana?

Short answer: No. Slightly longer answer: Your medical information is protected by HIPAA, and your potential insurer cannot share your medical information with the police (or your employer) without your permission.

Does it matter if I use marijuana frequently versus infrequently?

Yes. As mentioned above, the amount of times you use marijuana per week might affect whether your insurer considers you a smoker. This varies by insurance company. Also, as with heavy drinking, heavy pot usage might mark you as a higher risk for various maladies and accidents, and therefore result in an increase in your rate.

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What about other recreational drugs, legal or not?

If you are abusing an illegal drug, you will likely be denied coverage. (Again, abuse will likely turn up during a blood test in the application process.) Alcohol and tobacco use will not disqualify you from coverage unless it’s significantly above average or there is a history of abuse. You should disclose all medicinal use of drugs during your application.

What if I have been fined or imprisoned for marijuana use / possession?

You’ll need to acknowledge this during your application. (As you’ve probably figured out by now, lying on your application is unwise.) Depending on when this occurred, and what the infraction was, you could potentially be denied coverage or pay a higher rate. Then again, you might not. Transparency is your friend here.

Again, marijuana usage is like anything else when it comes to applying for life insurance. The more honest you are about it with your insurer during the process, the smoother your experience—and your beneficiaries’ experience—will be.

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Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children. This article is sponsored by Haven Life Insurance Agency. Opinions are his own.

Haven Life Insurance Agency offers this as educational only, and the information provided is not written or intended as specific legal advice. Haven Life Insurance Agency does not provide legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own legal counsel.

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About Louis Wilson

Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.

Read more by Louis Wilson

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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