It’s a well-known fact that smoking tobacco can drive up an individual’s life insurance premiums. But according to Canadian life insurers, cannabis consumption poses the same risk and it also causes premiums to rise.
As the use of medical marijuana is growing, along with impending legalization, the insurance industry's national trade association has demanded a standard policy among insurers for dealing with the increased costs caused by marijuana consumption.
In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Wendy Hope, spokesperson for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, said the higher premiums could be due to the underlying conditions of medical cannabis users. She added that the industry is currently learning more about cannabis, and it would “take some time” before any wholesale change happens on how the industry sees the drug.
Currently, policyholders can inform their insurer of their drug use by stating they use illicit drugs, or include it in any prescribed medications. Falsifying their drug use can result in insurers refusing their claims later on.
However, there are a number of health experts disagree with cannabis use being classified under the same risk as tobacco, which contributes to thousands of deaths each year due to lung cancer. Such data linking cannabis use to cancer deaths has not yet been collected.
Legislation for the drug to be federally regulated in Canada will go into effect in spring 2017. Health minister Jane Philpott announced the legalization on April 20, and emphasized the government would take measures to keep the drug away from criminal operations. "We will introduce legislation in spring 2017 that ensures we keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals," she stated to a speech to special General Assembly of the UN.
It remains to be seen whether life insurers will reassess qualifying policy criteria to include marijuana post-legalization.