Marijuana use and life insurance ratings
The times they are a changing. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C. now allow the use of marijuana for medicinal use, and others have decriminalized laws for possession of small amounts.
The states allowing medicinal marijuana use are:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
Residents of these states and the nation's capitol may benefit from legally smoking pot to ease symptoms related to glaucoma, nausea, chronic pain and other medical conditions, but what happens when they apply for a life insurance policy? Well, it depends.
In a stellar LifeHealthPro.com article, Brad Cummins lists the marijuana use guidelines for over a dozen life insurance companies. This is useful information for anyone wondering how smoking pot will impact their life insurance premiums.
Life insurers' ratings for marijuana use vary widely because each has its own guidelines and underwriting rules. Some discern between prescription pot and recreational use, others do not. Some simply equate it to smoking tobacco, while still others link how frequently you smoke to your rating. Additionally, insurers have different guidelines for what constitutes occasional use.
For example, if you smoke pot up to four times a month and would otherwise qualify for a preferred plus rating, Met Life may give you a preferred plus non-smoker rating, according to Cummins, but using marijuana more than once a week is equivalent to a smoker's rate. That compares to Fidelity which classifies you at a standard smoker rate if there is any marijuana use in the past 12 months.
If you smoke marijuana and are comparing life insurance quotes, be sure to talk to your life agent about each insurer's guidelines – you could save a lot of money if you're an occasional user in good health and can find an insurer who won't charge you standard smoker rates.
For more information on how ratings work for life insurance, read Insurance.com's article "Understanding life insurance table ratings."
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's. Follow him on Twitter @destoups.