Not that long ago, if you answered yes to any medical marijuana question on a life insurance application, your policy would have been summarily declined. Now, things have dramatically changed. Over 50 percent of the states have legalized marijuana is some form so insurance carriers are taking a more liberal view on the subject.
While most insurance carriers continue to take a conservative approach to underwriting, more and more are opening their doors to marijuana users, especially those who have been prescribed medical marijuana.
Why Marijuana May Be Prescribed
Depending on your state of residence, marijuana is generally prescribed for several conditions.
Since California was the first state to approve medical marijuana, in 1996, we’ve listed the conditions that would warrant a prescription (You can check your state here).
- Chronic Pain
- Persistent muscle spasms
- Severe nausea
- Sleep disorders
- Any chronic or persistent symptom that substantially limits your ability to conduct one or more major live activities (defined in the American Disabilities Act) or, if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to your safety or physical or mental health.
It’s important to understand that medical marijuana is not a cure, but rather a treatment for symptoms related to one of the above-mentioned health issues.
What Do Underwriters Look For?
The fact that you’ve been prescribed medical marijuana is not the issue; what it was prescribed for is what’s important to the underwriter. The drug is not the issue, the cause of the symptom it’s treating is the issue.
For example, if you are undergoing therapy for lung cancer and the therapy is causing severe nausea, your underwriter will be concerned about the disease more than the treatment. The use of medical marijuana simply triggers the need for information about the underlying condition it has been prescribed for.
Some of our clients are even prescribed marijuana for sleep disorders. Getting a good nights sleep is key to performing well on our job and in life in general.
In this example, when the underwriter is made aware of the lung cancer issue, reports will be ordered from the oncologist who is administering the treatment. If your application is accepted, your rate will be determined based on the cancer, not the medical marijuana you have been prescribed.
If My State allows it, What’s the Problem?
In reality, there isn’t a problem. Insurance companies are not as concerned about your use of medical marijuana as they are about why you use it (see the above example). Even though more than 50 percent of the states have legalized medical marijuana, it remains unclear how the federal government is going to react.
Although the much talked about Rohrabacher-Farr amendment does ultimately affect enforcement of the federal ban on medical marijuana in those states that have legalized it, it is not the same as eliminating the ban. Medical marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance and therefore illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. Therefore, anyone who grows or sells it is breaking federal law and theoretically committing a felony every day they do so.
Which Companies Offer the Most Affordable Rates for Medical Marijuana Use?
There are many companies that agents consider marijuana friendly, but some really stand out in the crowd. The most notable we have found are as follows:
MetLife stands out amongst most life insurers because they will allow applicants to use marijuana up to four times a week and still be rated as standard non-smoker, and once a week use can earn preferred rates. As of this writing, we are not aware of any other carrier with such liberal underwriting guidelines.
Prudential is considered marijuana friendly because it will allow a standard rate for marijuana use up to three times a week. Prudential also receives high marks since they are preferred company for high-risk cases which is very important for medicinal users that are prescribed for a serious underlying condition.
United of Omaha
With United of Omaha, marijuana users that limit their use to once per week can still get standard non-smoker rates. Even though they do not offer preferred rates when you list marijuana use on the application, they are still considered to have fairly liberal underwriting guidelines.
Can’t I Just Lie on the Application?
Yes, you can. But, if you do and you get caught, your application will be denied and the decline will be submitted to the MIB (Medical Information Bureau) for all insurers to see in the future.
To get the most affordable rate on your life insurance, your carrier is likely to order a medical exam that includes a blood and/or urine sample. The appropriate testing will certainly find you out if you omit your medical marijuana use on the application. The best method is, to tell the truth and then provide the medical information that your underwriter will require.
When all is said and done, unless your underlying illness disqualifies you from coverage, your policy will be issued with the most affordable rate the company is willing to offer. In many cases, applicants who use medical marijuana to control symptoms for headache pain or glaucoma, you’ll be rated as standard or standard smoker.