Over the past 10-15 years, the perception of marijuana has changed. For the most part, there is now wide public acceptance and a trend toward decriminalization. Recent polls show that 64% of Americans support making marijuana use legal.

As of today, nine states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana use. Twenty-nine states have passed laws allowing some degree of medical use of marijuana, and 14 states have taken steps to decriminalize it to some degree. (Note: Decriminalized possession means there typically will be no arrest, prison time, or criminal record for individuals in possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption. Act would likely be punishable by a fine.) Only four states have prohibited marijuana entirely and have no decriminalization laws in effect.

In recent years, the life insurance industry has been adjusting their views and risk classifications in an attempt to keep up with these changes. A big challenge for the life insurance industry is that unlike alcohol and tobacco, there have not been enough studies done on the long-term effects of marijuana usage to determine any definite conclusions in regards to risk of mortality. However, in 2016 the DEA announced that it will end restrictions on the supply of marijuana to researchers so more in-depth studies will now be possible.

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Evaluating Life Insurance Applicants Who Use Marijuana

Each life insurance company underwrites marijuana differently. When evaluating an applicant, certain factors come into play when dealing with marijuana usage:

  • Whether the use is recreational or medicinal;
  • If medicinal, what the malady is;
  • How the marijuana is used (whether smoked, vaporized, pill-form, liquid-form, oil-form, eaten, transdermal, etc.);
  • How often marijuana is used.

When dealing with marijuana use, underwriters are going to pay a bit more attention than usual to other medications the user may be on, their driving records, and their medical history. 

To determine what risk class to assign to an applicant, underwriters need to determine how concerning the marijuana usage is. 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 Different Life Insurance Companies Underwrite Marijuana Use

If you use marijuana, whether medicinally or recreationally, working with an independent broker that has contracts with multiple life insurance companies is going to give you the best chances at getting approved. Here at Quotacy we work with multiple A-rated insurers.

We did a little research and put together a table that shows you how much the views of carriers differ from each other when it comes to marijuana use. In general, most life insurance companies view recreational use as the following:

  • Rare or Experimental – those who have tried or used at least once, but no longer use, or those using twice a month or less
  • Intermittent – those who use 3 to 8 times monthly
  • Moderate – those who use 8 to 16 times monthly
  • Heavy – those who use more than 16 times monthly (4 times weekly)

If you use marijuana, whether medicinally or recreationally, working with an independent broker that has contracts with multiple life insurance companies is going to give you the best chances at getting approved.

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We are keeping the insurance companies anonymous since they are continually updating their guidelines to keep up with these changes. Note: Standard Smoker and Standard Tobacco are the same risk class – some carriers just use different wording. Just as Table A is the same as Table 1.

Insurance Carrier A
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
1-2 uses per monthStandard Non-TobaccoUnderwritten based on medical condition
3+ uses per monthStandard Tobacco
Notes: Standard Non-Tobacco rates assume a negative THC lab test.
If use is non-smoked, Standard Non-Tobacco can be issued if no more than 8x per month.
More than 3x per month may be rated or declined based on frequency of use.
Insurance Carrier B
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
12 uses per yearStandard Non-TobaccoUnderwritten based on medical condition and frequency of use
13+ uses per yearStandard Tobacco
Notes: If use is rare, applicant could be considered Preferred. If applicant uses daily then it’s a decline. If applicant smokes cigars, the number of cigars smoked is added to the number of times marijuana is used.
Insurance Carrier C
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
2 uses per weekStandard TobaccoUnderwritten based on medical condition, Tobacco rates
1 use per dayTobacco Table B and up
Notes: To receive Standard Tobacco rates, use must be admitted on application. If applicant does not admit use, Tobacco Table B rates will be issued.
Insurance Carrier D
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
2 uses per weekStandard TobaccoDaily Rx use = Table B
More frequently usedTable B
Notes: N/A
Insurance Carrier E
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
4 uses per monthSee NotesUnderwritten same as recreational use
Notes: If applicant only uses up to 4x per month and THC test is negative, then Preferred Non-Smoker can be considered. If THC test comes back positive, then Standard Smoker rates likely issued.
Insurance Carrier F
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
1 use per dayStandard Non-SmokerUnderwritten based on medical condition
3 uses per weekPreferred Non-Smoker
Notes: Applicant must live in a state with approved laws and use must be admitted on application. Ratings more favorable with applicants of older ages.
Insurance Carrier G
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
See notes.See notes.Underwritten based on medical condition
Notes: Tests for marijuana use on all applicants and rates based on concentration level.
Insurance Carrier H
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
4 uses per weekPreferred PlusUnderwritten based on medical condition, Tobacco rates
5+ uses per weekSee Notes
Notes: Preferred Plus rates assume applicant is over age 18, labs are negative for THC, and there is no DWI or DUI history within last 5 years. Ratings based on age for 5 or more uses per month: Age 18-24 = Table D; Age 25+ = Table B.
Insurance Carrier I
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
Under 12 uses per yearPreferred Plus Non-Smoker(Information not shared publicly.)
Under 24 uses per yearPreferred Non-Smoker
8-16 uses per monthTobacco rates
Notes: Preferred Plus and Preferred rates assume applicant’s THC lab results are negative, that there is no history of substance abuse, and currently in stable employment/family situations. Applicant will be declined if use is every other day or more per month.
Insurance Carrier J
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
1 use per monthPreferred Plus Non-SmokerUnderwritten based on medical condition
1 use per weekPreferred Non-Smoker
Notes: All eligible marijuana users are assessed at Non-Smoker rates.
Insurance Carrier K
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
Up to 5 uses per monthPreferred TobaccoUnderwritten based on medical condition, Tobacco rates
Notes: Heavy recreational use, which is considered to be four uses or more per week, is likely a decline.
Insurance Carrier L
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
2 uses per monthStandard Non-TobaccoUnderwritten based on medical condition
Notes: For recreational use, if more than two uses per month then likely will be issued tobacco rates and possible table ratings.
Insurance Carrier M
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
3 uses per weekStandard Plus Non-TobaccoUnderwritten based on medical condition
4-6 uses per weekTable B
7+ uses per weekDecline
Notes: Standard Plus only applicable for ages 21 or older.
If applicant is under 21 then it’s a decline. If applicant has positive THC test and did not admit use on application then it’s a decline.
Insurance Carrier N
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
2 uses per monthStandard TobaccoUnderwritten based on medical condition
3-8 uses per monthStandard Tobacco
8-16 uses per monthSee Notes
Notes: If applicant rarely uses (two uses per year) Preferred Plus rates considered. If applicant is under age 19 then it’s a decline. If applicant uses over 16x per month then it’s a decline. Ratings for moderate use (8-16 times per month) based on age: Age 19-25 = Tobacco Table C; Over age 25 = Tobacco Table B.
Insurance Carrier O
Recreational UsageRatingMedicinal Usage
8 uses per monthStandard Smoker at bestRx under 18 is decline;
Underwritten based on medical condition – Standard Smoker at best
9-14 uses per monthTable rated
More than 4x per weekDecline
Notes: Ratings based on age for 9-14 uses per month: Ages 18-25 = Table 3; Ages 26+ = Table 2.

Medical Conditions That Qualify for Medical Marijuana

In the chart above, when insurers say “Underwritten based on medical condition” this means that rather than classifying risk based on the medical marijuana use, they are going to classify based on why you use the medical marijuana. Qualifying medical conditions in which marijuana can be prescribed varies by state. Some qualifying medical conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • PTSD
  • Severe arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia
  • Migraines

Marijuana and the Cost of Life Insurance

To get an idea of how the risk classes affect life insurance pricing, consider the table below. Keep in mind that this table is for illustrative purposes only and is not exclusive. Table ratings on average can run all the way up to Table J.

Applicant: Male, Age 30, $250,000, 20-Year Term Policy
Preferred Plus
Non-Tobacco
Preferred
Non-Tobacco
Standard
Plus
Non-Tobacco
Standard
Non-Tobacco
Preferred TobaccoStandard TobaccoTable ATable BTobacco Table ATobacco Table B
$14$17$20$23$41$51$29$35$63$74

As you can see from the chart and table above, if you use marijuana, whether recreationally or medicinally, it pays to work with an agency that has contracts with multiple carriers.  Their views on marijuana use vary drastically.  Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Example 1:

Jack Smith is a 35-year-old male who lives in Washington where recreational use is legal. He uses marijuana 5-7 times per week. He is applying for a 20-year term life insurance policy with $250,000 in coverage.

Insurance Company F would rate Jack as Standard Non-Smoker and his monthly premiums would be approximately $28.

Insurance Company C would table rate him as Tobacco Table B. His monthly premiums would be approximately $100.

Insurance Company O would decline him for coverage.

Between just three companies there is a difference of $72 per month and having no coverage at all.


Example 2:

John Doe is a 30-year-old male applying for a 20-year term life insurance policy with $250,000 in coverage. He uses marijuana recreationally three times a week.

Insurance Company M would rate him Standard Plus Non-Tobacco and his monthly premiums would be approximately $20.

Insurance Company N would table rate him as Tobacco Table B and his premiums would be $74 per month… that is a $54 per month difference.


Example 3:

Jane Doe is a 40-year-old female applying for a 20-year-term life insurance policy with $250,000 in coverage. She uses medical marijuana to help treat her glaucoma.

Insurance Company A would rate her based on the glaucoma alone, not the fact that she uses marijuana. Jane’s glaucoma is well managed so Insurance Company A would offer her Standard Non-Tobacco. Her monthly premiums would be approximately $32.

Life Insurance Company O considers any marijuana use as tobacco use and would thus rate Jane Standard Smoker and her approximate monthly premiums would be $80… a $48 per month difference.


As you have read, marijuana use is still controversial in the life insurance industry. Because use is still illegal on the federal level and because the long-term risks are unknown, the industry as a whole is understandably hesitant to accept it with open arms. However, using marijuana recreationally or medicinally doesn’t mean you cannot get approved for life insurance, so don’t let your fear of being denied keep you from applying.

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Disclaimer: This post was updated 4/26/2018 and all life insurance underwriting notes are current as of this date, but the industry is continually changing to meet demands.

Image credit to: Mark

About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius

Marketing Content and Social Media Manager

Natasha is a content manager and editor for Quotacy. She has worked in the life insurance industry since 2010, and making life insurance easier to understand with her writing since 2014. When not at work, you can find her throwing a tennis ball for her pit bull mix, Emmett, or curled up on her couch watching Netflix. If it’s football season, the Packers game will be on. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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