Do you smoke marijuana?
If so, I understand if you’d rather not discuss it.
Although social norms (and several states’ laws) have grown more friendly toward the green, leafy stuff, your employer or your neighbors may not feel the same way.
What does your life insurance company think?
When you apply for coverage to protect your family from the unexpected, underwriters may ask whether you use marijuana.
Your answer could impact your premiums, but even if you say yes, you should still be able to find the coverage you need.
You may be able to find a great rate, too!
Honesty Gives You the Best Policy
Let’s get this out there right away: Tell the truth when you apply for life insurance.
Here’s a scenario to show you why being honest about your marijuana use matters:
When you buy, say, $1 million in term life coverage you’re doing a very responsible thing.
You’re putting the tools in place for your spouse or other family members to survive financially without your income.
If the worst happened, and you died in a car wreck, for example, your family could file a claim and get a check for $1 million, tax-free, from your insurance company.
As you can imagine, the insurance company doesn’t write $1 million checks without asking at least a few questions first:
For one thing, they would ask the highway department about your car crash. Let’s assume alcohol and drugs were not a factor in the crash.
Wouldn’t that end the discussion?
What if you happened to have a Ziploc baggie of marijuana in your glove compartment?
Or what if it was just a package of rolling papers?
The accident report may very well include those details, which means your insurance company would find out about them, too.
The insurer would then check whether you’d disclosed marijuana use in your application for coverage.
If you didn’t, and if they determined from other sources, such as medical records, that you had an undisclosed history of marijuana use, your family’s claim could be in jeopardy.
All the premiums you’d paid, all the thought and consideration you put into your policy, would not help your loved ones after all.
By being fully open and honest in your application, and throughout the underwriting process, you’ll help make sure the coverage you’re buying will be available to your family if they need it. (And, you won’t be guilty of insurance fraud!)
By the way, honesty shouldn’t pertain only to marijuana use.
Tell the truth about your other habits, hobbies, and health issues.
Better to pay a higher premium for the right coverage than to risk leaving your family unprotected.
Marijuana Use: Not a Life Insurance Dealbreaker
Once upon a time, disclosing marijuana use would have snuffed out your life insurance application.
Underwriters would have immediately denied coverage without needing to even think about it.
My how times have changed.
Not only can you get coverage, you could possibly even get coverage without paying much, if any, extra premiums.
Finding great coverage at a great price may still take some inside knowledge and maneuverability.
Start by addressing these important factors.
Can You Get Non-Tobacco Rates as a Marijuana User?
Cigarette smokers pay a lot more for life insurance because tobacco destroys your health, and I’m not just talking about lung cancer.
Smokers have higher risks of stroke, heart attack, asthma, and other serious lung diseases such as emphysema.
So, if underwriters see your marijuana use as a reason to classify you as a smoker, you’ll pay high rates along with tobacco users, even though your recreational marijuana may not impact your health the way tobacco smoke does.
As a non-tobacco user, you should find an insurance company whose underwriters do not automatically categorize marijuana users as smokers.
Why Do You Smoke Marijuana?
Underwriters will want to know why you smoke marijuana.
If you use pot because it’s fun, that is, because you enjoy sharing a joint once in a while with a friend or two, indicate that on your application.
Some applicants I’ve known found it tempting to check the “medical reasons” box, probably because many states have more lenient laws allowing for prescription use.
Be careful here, though.
If you select “medical reasons,” underwriters will be ready with a follow-up question: “Just what kind of chronic medical condition do you have?”
Because underwriters fear chronic health conditions like, well, the plague.
An applicant who needs marijuana to get through the day is an applicant who’s probably in pretty bad health.
And an applicant in bad health may soon be filing a claim, which means such an applicant needs to pay more or else should be denied coverage.
Again, it’s all about honesty.
If you smoke pot because it’s fun, just say so.
How Often Do You Smoke Marijuana?
This is a biggy.
Your answer may determine whether you can access non-tobacco rates, which as you know will have a dramatic impact on your premiums.
If this is starting to sound familiar, I apologize, but it is important.
When your application asks how often you smoke marijuana, be honest.
Even if your answer classifies you as a smoker, that’s OK.
With so many life insurance companies out there, you may be able to find a company whose underwriters look more favorably on your answer.
Which brings us to the all-important question:
What are the Best Insurance Companies for Marijuana Users?
Every 4-year-old knows what to do when Mom says “no.”
They ask Dad or Grandma or an aunt or uncle, or somebody with authority who might have a different answer.
Generally speaking, shopping for life insurance can work the same way.
By learning which insurers are most likely to say “yes” to marijuana users who ask for non-tobacco rates, you can avoid the companies more inclined to say “no.”
A word of caution, though: Don’t let a company’s attitude toward pot be the only factor you consider. To get the most reliable life insurance coverage for the loved ones who depend on you financially, partner with a top-rated insurer.
Regardless of a company’s take on marijuana, its coverage would be useless if the company had gone out of business when your beneficiary filed a claim.
An Independent Agent Can Help
Insurance companies routinely change their underwriting procedures, which means any “Best Insurance Companies for Marijuana Users” list you find online could be out of date by the time you read it.
If, however, you can find a knowledgeable independent life insurance agent, he or she can guide you toward insurers who look more favorably on marijuana use this year.
Ask your friends and co-workers if they know of a reputable independent agent in your community or simply find one online.
Independent agents know about a variety of insurance companies and should be able to show you a wide variety of policy options.
My Favorite Companies for Marijuana Users
When people ask me how to get the best coverage for the best price as a marijuana user, my answer may vary depending on other factors such as the applicant’s age, weight, and overall health.
Whether you need term, whole, or no-exam coverage matters, too.
Over the past decade or so more and more companies have become good options for marijuana users, so there are several options for most people.
Here are my five favorites.
MetLife: MetLife is one of the biggest and the best life insurance companies out there.
And get this: You can get Preferred Non-tobacco rates even if you use marijuana up to four times a week!
If you smoke daily you’ll pay more, but even then you may still get Standard Non-tobacco rates.
Lincoln National: This is another of my favorite overall insurers. With Lincoln National, you can get Preferred Non-Smoking rates as a once-a-month (or less frequent) marijuana user.
Prudential: Prudential is another solid, well-known carrier that offers affordable term life policies, including for people who use marijuana recreationally.
If you’re a twice-a-month user you should be able to qualify for Standard-Plus Non-Smoker rates.
Mutual of Omaha: Yet another company you can depend on, Mutual of Omaha tends to offer its Standard Non-Tobacco rates for marijuana users who report three or fewer uses per month.
Transamerica: If you smoke marijuana once a month or less often, Transamerica should offer its Standard Non-Tobacco rates.
Keep in mind: Many of the companies on my list (and most others) will not offer the best deals if your lab results show tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) in your system.
They may even deny coverage.
It’s a good idea to avoid marijuana use for at least a couple weeks before your medical exam.
Why Not Just Skip the Medical Exam?
As I said above, make sure you can give a clean lab sample even for an insurer who looks more favorably on marijuana use.
Which brings up an interesting point people like to ask about: the possibility of getting no exam life insurance.
Yes, you could go with a no-exam policy and avoid the lab testing, along with the entire medical exam.
A lot of people are going this route.
There is a problem with this plan if you need a larger coverage amount.
If you’re in your 30s and just starting a family, for example, you may need $500,000 or even $1 million in coverage to protect your family’s future in case you died unexpectedly.
A no exam policy, while convenient, can’t deliver that much coverage.
You may be able to get $250,000 or even $350,000 in no-exam coverage, but you’d be paying a much higher rate.
Since underwriters know so little about your health with a no exam policy, they charge higher premiums across the board.
Unless you’re older and need a small amount of coverage, a no exam policy is often a bad fit.
Control the Process to Get the Best Rates
Life insurance shoppers can face a variety of barriers when searching for the best rates on the coverage they need to protect their families.
Maybe it’s a medical diagnosis such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Maybe it’s a dangerous occupation or a spotty driving record.
Or maybe you just enjoy smoking pot once in a while.
Whatever the issue, the number one rule is to own it.
The information you share with underwriters will be confidential, and while more insurers are becoming flexible when it comes to pot use, they will always be unforgiving if you don’t tell the truth.
After that, it’s a matter of finding the right company.
Talk to an independent agent or start with my five favorite companies for applicants who smoke marijuana.
Unlike our parents or grandparents, marijuana users today don’t have to be excluded from the peace of mind having the right life insurance policy will provide.
With a little time and patience, you can get some of the best rates out there, pot or not.