Since Colorado and Washington became the first two states to vote to legalize marijuana in 2012, recreational cannabis has become legal in 10 states, with Michigan residents being the latest to vote to legalize the substance in the 2018 midterm elections. During that same election, Utah and Missouri both voted to legalize medical marijuana. 

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Despite a handful of states still completely banning marijuana use both medically and recreationally, it’s clear to see from these recent elections that the public perception and narrative surrounding cannabis is changing. However, despite these shifts, marijuana is still considered illegal at a federal level. As well, if you are considering coverage for life insurance, your usage might impact your rating. But the question is, by how much?

How Much Does Weed Affect Your Life Insurance?

The answer? It varies. According to Policygenius, life insurance companies look into marijuana usage in a number of different ways. For example, some of these companies sort marijuana users into the same category as tobacco smokers. This, then, would knock your rating lower and therefore increase your premium payments.

However, others consider the frequency of use and also whether usage is for medicinal purposes. As well, according to a survey by reinsurer Munich Re, 80 percent of the 148 underwriters surveyed said their companies take marijuana use into account when deciding on how to price policies and whether or not to offer coverage. However, 29 percent of those surveyed also said that they classify marijuana users as non-smokers, which in turn could potentially give them the opportunity to qualify for the best non-smoker rates.

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The reason insurance companies are so cautious when it comes to marijuana use is because federal regulations have made it quite difficult for researchers to test the effects of marijuana usage. Because of this, the long-term effects of marijuana use have been tough to gauge, making all of us unsure of how exactly these effects would impact our health overall.

How Is Your Rating Determined?

If you’re in the process of looking for life insurance coverage, you should probably understand how your rate is accounted for. Life insurance companies take an overall look at a potential customer’s life and try and see if there are any factors that would make the potential customer risky to insure. During the underwriting process, underwriters will take a look at your hobbies, health, and family history. Based on these criteria, they will then assign you a health classification. This is when premium rates are determined, and the worse the rating, the more you’ll pay.

You should also know that life insurance companies usually require shoppers to take a medical exam which includes a urine test and blood work. These tests can detect THC, the ingredient in marijuana that makes you high, letting insurance companies know that you use marijuana. Depending on how often you use cannabis, THC levels can be detected in the blood anywhere from three to 14 days after use and in urine up to a month after usage.

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Now, you’re probably thinking cannabis used for medicinal purposes only will not affect your rating. The answer to this is yes and no. According to Policygenius, medical marijuana is used to help ease severe symptoms. So, if your condition isn’t considered severe by a life insurance company, you will be lumped in with recreational users and receive a worse rating. Though, it should also be noted that if your condition is considered serious by an insurer, that condition alone could cause issues with a potential insurer since it would affect your health overall and therefore would lower your rating and raise your premiums.

Don't Lie To Insurance Companies

Finally, if you’re worried that your marijuana usage would impact your rating negatively and are considering lying to potential insurers about your usage, don’t. If these companies find out that you lied and reject you, it won’t just impact you negatively with that company; it will lead you to getting rejected from all life insurance companies. This is because if a company finds out you lied, they will report you to the Medical Information Bureau (MIB). MIB keeps your record of misrepresentation on file and you can be sure other life insurance companies will find out about it.

The trick is to do your research and see what companies offer the best rates for marijuana users since treatment of users varies from company to company. This guide from Policygenius is a great resource that lays out all of your options if you are a marijuana user and in the market for a good life insurance plan. This guide shows you which companies are the best for marijuana users and what to expect if you seek coverage from them.

For example, North American’s marijuana policy is that marijuana users ages 21 and over will receive non-tobacco ratings while John Hancock considers marijuana use to be drug use and therefore is unlikely to offer marijuana users competitive rates for their life insurance coverage.

Overall, your cannabis use could affect your life insurance coverage in a variety of different ways, depending on who you are seeking coverage from. Some companies will be more lax when it comes to marijuana usage while others will be much more conservative and lower your ratings and increase your premiums if you use marijuana.

If you’re in the market for life insurance coverage, you should be doing your homework and researching the best companies for your particular lifestyle, family history, and health. As well, be sure to be honest with your insurers and do not lie about usage because it is not worth the consequences if you are found out. Finally, you should be taking into account your general marijuana usage when applying for different life insurance coverage. Often, the lower your usage, the lower your premiums, and the higher the usage, the higher your premiums. All of these factors should be taken into careful consideration when choosing your potential provider.