Life insurance companies have relaxed their attitudes towards cannabis users, as the laws have relaxed. What has it done to the premiums?

Canada, after Uruguay, is the second country in the world to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Prior to 2018 it was legal for medical users, but Canadian laws now make marijuana legal for all in Canada. But when the laws changed, so did the attitudes toward it. Sometimes it can get a little confusing; even the experts are not sure what to think! Life insurers once considered cannabis users ‘high risk’ clients and their premiums were as high as tobacco smokers. Now however, attitudes have become a little more relaxed. Today, how are life insurance companies treating marijuana in Canada?

Sunlife was an early adopter of changes

Attitudes have relaxed, but there is still no clear consensus, even with the biggest insurers. That’s because no one was quite sure what legalization was going to look like, and how it would affect everything and everyone around it. Sunlife cannabis coverage was one of the first to stop treating casual cannabis users as high risk clients, and other life insurance companies followed.

Insurers went to work learning more about the people who used cannabis, the reasons why they used it, and the risks and the benefits involved.

Insurance companies divided into two camps

Sunlife cannabis coverage was one of the first insurers in Canada allow medical marijuana to workplace group insurance plans, but it’s not just life insurance companies that have had to re-evaluate how they treat marijuana users. Home insurance companies, car insurance, health insurance and travel insurance, and workplace insurance companies have also had to look twice at the habit. Most companies fall into two schools of thought:

• Smoking, vaping and eating is the same and so is the risk; or,

• Edibles are less of a risk, and frequency of use makes a difference.

Not all cannabis is the same. The possible risks are from smoking the joints, from vaping, and from using the edible products. The question is, do the insurance companies differentiate between smoking joints, vaping, and eating? Is it the same if it is medicinal, or recreational? Do the risks change? Does the type of person who uses cannabis change depending on how they use it?

Casual users could be considered and assessed for life insurance qualification as non-smokers if they use cannabis products less than two times per week, and as frequent users as those who use it four times per week or more. Frequent users are in the same risk category as tobacco smokers and the cost of premiums will go up accordingly.

So, what has changed in 2019?

Cannabis is legal in Canada but regulated. Insurance companies saw the change coming and changed accordingly. Sunlife changed its policies first, but are the insurance companies just trying to help themselves, by agreeing that it’s not as risky as tobacco and selling coverage to more people, or is there really a lesser risk?

What is the takeaway?

Smoking joints and breathing in smoke is still a risk even if its cannabis and not tobacco, but using cannabis less than twice a week makes you a non-smoker according to insurance companies. Evidence does show that marijuana use does not have the same health implications as tobacco use; and, as long as life insurance companies are more flexible in their attitudes, there is more opportunity to learn about the product, the users, and the benefits and risks.

So, even though it has not been clearly determined who thinks what and what exactly too much is, like most things, if you want lower rates on your life insurance, lower your consumption. Use less per week, and less per time.

Cannabis users and life insurance shoppers who are looking for coverage without high premiums are able to find what they need by talking to See what is available for your particular situation.

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For more information about life insurance for cannabis users, visit LSM Insurance website