Marijuana users may be eligible for non-smoker rates

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Users of marijuana applying for life insurance will no longer be treated as smokers by several life insurance companies in Canada. These include Sun Life, BMO Insurance and Assumption Life, although their policies regarding the classification of marijuana usage differs.

Sun Life and Assumption Life’s new policy is the broadest and applies to all marijuana users who have not also used any substance or product containing tobacco, nicotine or used e-cigarettes in the past 12 months. BMO Insurance limits the classification of non-smokers to marijuana consumers who smoke up to two marijuana cigarettes per week.

With the drug becoming increasingly accepted as a form of medication for various ailments and as the federal government works toward legalizing the recreational usage of it, these insurance companies have stepped up and made it more favourable for users applying for life insurance.

The change comes as the latest research on the drug shows that its impact is not as detrimental on mortality rates as tobacco. Although cannabis contains many of the carcinogens found in tobacco, there is little evidence that usage of the drug will lead to an increased risk of lung cancer. The result is that marijuana users who qualify based on the criteria above will pay the same rate for life insurance as non-smokers, which can save them more than 50% on their premiums. This applies to both new and existing customers, so even current marijuana users who had their policies rated as smoker can call up their insurance company or broker to request a change to non-smoker rates.

Our take: This is a win for consumers, as marijuana consumers will pay insurance premiums that reflect their longevity. Similar to Manulife now approving HIV-positive applicants, we hope that the decision will lead to other insurance companies following in their footsteps.