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Life Insurance and Marijuana: What Applicants Need to Know

September 20, 2023
Our goal is to educate and advise on life insurance options, so you can feel confident in making the right choice, whether that’s through Quotacy or somewhere else. To ensure we provide accurate and trustworthy information, our writers follow strict editorial standards.

In the last 10-15 years, perceptions of marijuana have changed, with the majority of Americans supporting legalization for both medical and recreational use.

Using marijuana, whether for medicinal or recreational reasons, doesn’t mean you’ll be automatically denied life insurance coverage. But it can affect the rate you’re offered, depending on the insurance company you choose.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to obtain life insurance if you use marijuana and offer tips to help you find the best price and select the right insurer.

The Insurance Industry’s View on Marijuana

The insurance industry has been actively adapting their guidelines regarding marijuana, attempting to keep up with societal changes and scientific research. A big challenge facing the life insurance industry is the lack of comprehensive long-term studies on the effects of marijuana usage. Unlike alcohol and tobacco, the research on marijuana’s impact on mortality risk is still inconclusive.

Insurance companies’ stances on marijuana vary widely. Not all are ready to welcome marijuana users with open arms, but some are quite lenient. As an independent broker, Quotacy can help match you with the insurer who will treat your unique situation most favorably.

How Insurance Companies Evaluate Marijuana Use

Each life insurance company has a set of guidelines they use when evaluating applicants. These guidelines help them determine what risk classification the applicant falls into. These risk classes determine what you pay for coverage.

The most common risk classifications fall into one of three groups: preferred, standard, and substandard.

  • Preferred classes are reserved for the healthiest individuals and offer the best pricing.
  • Standard risk classes are for people with average health and life expectancy.
  • Substandard classes are for high-risk individuals.
  • Tobacco users have their own standard and preferred classes, sometimes marijuana use will cause an applicant to fall into this category.

Life insurance underwriters review many individual risk factors, not just marijuana use. But when they see an applicant does partake in marijuana, there are particular aspects the underwriters assess:

Recreational vs Medicinal Use

  • Recreational Use: For casual or recreational users, insurers may focus on the frequency and method of consumption. Some may be more lenient with occasional use, while daily use might lead to higher premiums or a decline.
  • Medicinal Use: When marijuana is prescribed for a medical condition, underwriters may focus less on the marijuana itself and more on the underlying health condition being treated.

How the Marijuana Is Used

  • Smoking vs. Ingesting: Insurance companies may differentiate between smoking marijuana and consuming it through edibles, oils, or vaporizers. In general, non-smoking methods are viewed more favorably.
  • Frequency and Quantity: The frequency and amount of marijuana consumed plays a role. Occasional use might not significantly impact premiums, but heavy use could.

Additional Factors

When evaluating your life insurance application, underwriters take into account various individual factors. These include your gender, age, height and weight, overall health status, and lifestyle habits. Additionally, they may request specific records to gain a comprehensive view of your profile. This can include your driving record, prescription history, medical records from your doctor, and even a criminal background check if necessary.

Certain factors derived from underwriting will essentially go into a “Less Concern” or “More Concern” list. Obviously, the more factors there are to be concerned about, the higher the risk to insure.

Less ConcernMore Concern
Experimental or very occasional useRegular moderate or heavy use, teenage use
THC urine test comes back negative (typically means that use is not often)THC urine test comes back positive
Expanded drug screens (cocaine, heroin, meth, etc.) also negativeExpanded drug test comes back positive
Only occasional alcohol, no concernsDaily alcohol and/or concerns
No opioid or benzodiazepine useUse of opioid or benzodiazepine use, even if prescribed
Favorable drug/alcohol questionnaireUnavailable or unfavorable report
No current or prior psychiatric disorder diagnosisDiagnosis or history present
No current or prior substance abuseHistory present
No medical impairments or complications related to drug useMedical impairment and treatment, complications
Favorable hobbies/occupationUnfavorable hobbies/ occupation
Clear driving recordAdverse driving record

How to Qualify for Life Insurance if You Use Marijuana (+ Tips!)

If you partake in marijuana use, qualifying for life insurance is possible. Follow these steps to increase your chances of securing affordable coverage:

  • Work with an Independent Broker: Independent brokers have access to various insurers and understand how different companies evaluate marijuana use. At Quotacy, we’ll match you with the most suitable insurer for your particular situation, increasing the likelihood of favorable terms.
  • Be Honest About Your Use on Your Application: Honesty is paramount in the application process. While admitting to marijuana use might seem risky, lying or omitting information could result in a denied claim later on. Your agent needs to have all the information upfront in order to match you with the right insurer and set proper expectations.
  • Take Precautions Leading Up to Your Medical Exam: Prior to your medical exam, consider the following:
    • Take a break from marijuana the week of your exam. A negative THC result will be looked at more favorably even if you admit to use on your application.
    • Drink lots of water leading up to your exam. It’s the best way to flush your system and maximize your body’s general physical performance.
    • If your marijuana usage is medicinal, have relevant medical documents handy.

Learn more about the life insurance medical exam and tips.

See what you’d pay for life insurance

Comparison shop prices on custom coverage amounts from the nation’s top carriers with Quotacy.

The Cost of Life Insurance for Marijuana Users

As previously mentioned, there are many factors that go into determining the cost of a person’s policy. But here we’ll focus specifically on how the frequency of marijuana use impacts pricing.

20-Year $250,000 Term Life Insurance Quotes
Based on Recreational Marijuana Use
Per Month
Per Week
Per Week

The monthly rates above reflect male applicants who do not smoke cigarettes. Other than marijuana use, no other factors were considered. Your rates may be higher or lower.

The life insurance provider referenced in the table above is known for being relatively lenient when it comes to underwriting marijuana usage, often offering non-tobacco rates to users. In contrast, some other companies provide only tobacco rates for marijuana users, leading to significantly higher premiums.

20-Year $250,000 Term Life Insurance Quotes Based on Recreational Marijuana Use 1-2x Per Month
AgeCarrier offering
non-tobacco rates
Carrier offering
tobacco rates

Looking at the table above, if you’re a young 30-something applying for life insurance to provide financial protection for your family, selecting the wrong insurance company might mean you pay $46.25 per month instead of just $13.74.

The truth is that some life insurance companies are much more lenient with marijuana use than others. Choosing the wrong provider could lead to spending hundreds of extra dollars on premiums every year.


James and Ben, both healthy 33-year-old males, enjoy smoking marijuana 1-2 times per week to relax after a long workweek. Neither of them uses other tobacco products.

James, an accountant at a local sporting goods store, seeks to purchase a 30-year term life insurance policy for $250,000. He applies through a friend who is an insurance agent and is offered Preferred Smoker by his friend’s company. Unaware that he might find a better deal, James accepts the policy at a cost of $70 per month.

Ben, a graphic designer, is friends with James and shares the same marijuana consumption habits. Unlike James, when seeking the same 30-year $250,000 term life policy, Ben consults an independent life insurance broker. The broker helps Ben find a Preferred Non-Tobacco risk class with a different insurer, resulting in a monthly premium of only $24.

Both friends were in the same situation but took different approaches to purchasing life insurance. As a result, James ends up paying nearly triple the monthly premium that Ben does.

This scenario underscores the importance of thoroughly researching and understanding the various options available, as it can lead to significant savings in the long term.

Best Life Insurance for Marijuana Users

If you use marijuana and are seeking life insurance, it’s advisable to work with a broker. Since underwriting guidelines can change, a broker stays updated with the latest rules from various insurance companies, ensuring you find the best coverage to fit your needs.

When choosing life insurance, you’ll typically select between term or permanent policies, depending on your budget and specific requirements.

Term Life Insurance: This is often the preferred option because of its affordability and straightforward nature. Term life insurance provides coverage for a defined period, such as 10-40 years. If you were to pass away unexpectedly during this term, your beneficiaries would receive a tax-free death benefit.

Permanent Life Insurance: While more expensive, permanent life insurance offers benefits that term policies do not. Unlike term insurance, which only lasts for a specific duration, permanent life insurance provides lifelong coverage. This ensures that your beneficiaries receive a tax-free death benefit no matter when you die. Additionally, permanent policies often accumulate a cash value that you can access while you’re alive, and some even earn dividends.

Curious about the cost difference between term and permanent life insurance? The table below shows term vs whole life quotes for a male applicant who qualifies for Preferred Plus, the best risk class possible.

20-Year Term PolicyAge 30Age 40Age 50
Whole Life PolicyAge 30Age 40Age 50

Term life insurance is an affordable option for those seeking simple, temporary protection. Permanent life insurance, while more costly, provides lifelong coverage and additional financial benefits.

How much coverage do I need?

Financial experts often recommend that you buy life insurance coverage that is 10 to 20 times your yearly income. Therefore, if your annual salary is $100,000, you should consider purchasing a term life insurance policy with a minimum coverage of $1,000,000. However, this isn’t the right amount for everyone.

Choosing the right amount of life insurance coverage requires careful consideration of your financial obligations, lifestyle, future goals, and the needs of your dependents.

It’s wise to choose coverage that not only helps with unexpected expenses, such as funeral costs and mortgage payments but also ensures that your loved ones can maintain their current standard of living.

Use our free life insurance needs calculator if you need help deciding the right coverage amount.

Get Life Insurance Quotes Instantly and Work With Quotacy for the Best Pricing

Marijuana use may still be a contentious subject in the life insurance industry, but whether you use it recreationally or for medicinal purposes, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be denied life insurance. Don’t let the fear of rejection deter you from seeking coverage.

Getting a life insurance quote is easy through Quotacy. We don’t even ask for your contact information upfront. Look at quotes in peace on your own time.

When you’re ready to apply, the online application only takes a few minutes. Submit it, and your Quotacy agent takes it from there matching you with the insurer who will treat your application most favorably.

As a broker, our primary duty is to you, our client, rather than to the insurance companies. We approach your situation without judgment and focus on helping you find affordable coverage that meets your needs and protects your loved ones.

Note: Life insurance quotes used in this article are accurate as of September 20, 2023. These are only estimates and your life insurance costs may be higher or lower.

Watch the Life Insurance and Marijuana Video


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