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A new Forbes Advisor survey found that 56% of people say they would lie about their marijuana use to avoid higher life insurance quotes. That could be a buzzkill if the insurance company found out—your policy could likely go up in smoke if lies are discovered on your application.
Forbes Advisor asked 2,000 people about marijuana use and life insurance, including whether insurance companies should factor cannabis use into pricing life insurance policies.
The findings come as legislators are trying to legalize marijuana nationwide. Medical marijuana is legal in 37 states and Washington, DC, and recreational use is legal in 18 states and Washington, DC
Here’s a look at how Americans view the intersection of marijuana use and life insurance.
Tell Me Sweet Little Lies
A majority of people (56%) say they would lie about marijuana use to get better life insurance quotes. When broken down by region, Northeast residents (64%) lead the nation in saying they would be untruthful to get lower rates, followed by those in the Midwest (62%).
If I used marijuana legally, I would lie about marijuana use to get better life insurance quotes
You should always tell the truth when filling out a life insurance application. If you try to lie, your insurance company will likely find out the truth when researching your medical history. And providing false information to an insurance company is fraud. The insurer will likely decline your application if it finds fraud. However, if your insurer discovers you lie after selling you a policy, your policy can be voided.
Marijuana Use and Other Factors that Affect Life Insurance Rates
If you buy life insurance, you’ll likely have to answer questions about whether and how much you use marijuana. But only half of people surveyed (50%) knew that smoking pot affects life insurance rates. Less than half of respondents knew that other types of marijuana use can affect life insurance quotes, such as vaping (46%) and edibles (44%).
In fact, marijuana use can affect life insurance quotes, and the frequency of use can further determine the increase in rates. For example, if you use marijuana eight days or less per month you may be able to still qualify for good rates. Using pot nine to 16 days per month could put you into a more expensive rate class. And marijuana use more than 16 days a month could result in a denial.
But each life insurance company has its own rules, which is why it’s important to shop around and work with an insurance agent who will know which companies are likely to give you the best life insurance quotes.
And only 41% knew opioid use (such as heroin) can affect quotes for life insurance shoppers.
Life insurance companies also generally research details not related to your current health. And the biggest knowledge gaps were about these non-health factors in life insurance quotes. Less than a third of people knew that credit history (29% knew), driving record (35% knew) and criminal history (33% knew) and a current bankruptcy (23% knew) are generally considered by life insurance companies when setting quotes .
All of the factors below are generally considered in life insurance pricing, yet survey results show that many people don’t know the factors that affect life insurance rates.
To the best of your knowledge, check all the factors that could affect life insurance quotes
Hesitation to Buy: Higher Rates, Fear of Rejection
Nearly 60% of people said they would hesitate to apply for life insurance if they used marijuana legally.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: I would be hesitant to apply for life insurance if I used marijuana legally
Among people who would hesitate to apply for life insurance, the top reason is that they assume life insurance would be too expensive. And it’s true that marijuana users will typically pay more for life insurance:
- A 30-year-old male who uses marijuana occasionally (two or fewer times a month) pays an average of 23% more than those who don’t.
- A 30-year-old woman can expect to pay 22% more due to occasional marijuana use.
- Quotes can be even higher for those who use it more than two times a month—47% more for males and 34% for females.
Nearly a quarter of people (24%) say they didn’t want to be denied coverage for using marijuana.
Frequent marijuana use could potentially result in being rejected by a life insurance company. But if you are an occasional user—and the definition of occasional user varies by insurance company—you usually can still buy a policy.
Related: A marijuana user’s guide to life insurance
Why would you be hesitant to apply for life insurance if you used marijuana legally? (Choose your main reason)
One Toke (Or Many) Won’t Affect In-Force Life Insurance
Many people (44%) incorrectly think that life insurance rates can go up if you start using marijuana after purchasing the policy.
As long as you were truthful on the application, life insurance companies can’t raise your rates for clothes you start after the policy is issued. For instance, let’s say you have life insurance and decide to participate in the unofficial “Weed Day” celebration every April 20. You enjoy it, so you become a frequent user. Your life insurance rates would not increase.
The same holds true for medical conditions you develop after you buy life insurance. For example, if you develop cancer or a heart condition after you buy a policy, an insurer can’t start charging you more.
To the best of your knowledge, if someone already has life insurance and starts using marijuana, can the insurance company raise the person’s life insurance rates?
Recreational Marijuana: Many Agree it Should Affect Quotes
A majority (60%) of those surveyed agree that recreational marijuana use should influence life insurance rates, while only 13% disagree.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Recreational marijuana use should affect someone’s life insurance quotes
Those who think recreational use of marijuana should not be a part of underwriting life insurance policies cite legalization and privacy issues as their top reasons why.
Why do you think recreational marijuana use should not affect life insurance quotes? (Choose your top reason)
More men (30%) than women (24%) think that recreational use should not be used in pricing life insurance because it should be legal in all states. A quarter of men (25%) say because pot is already legal in some states, it shouldn’t affect life insurance costs, compared to 18% of women.
When broken down by region, more people in the Southwest and West (each 33%) than in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast (each 22%) say that recreational marijuana should not affect life insurance quotes because it should be legal nationwide.
Medical Marijuana: Few Think it Should Be Excluded from Pricing
Over half (57%) of people surveyed believe medical marijuana should be considered in setting life insurance rates. Just 14% disagree.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Medicinal marijuana use should affect someone’s life insurance quotes
This online survey of 2,000 US adults was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected April 1-4, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For a complete survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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