Canadian pot smokers get the shaft from insurers

by Will Ashworth29 Jun 2015
Almost one-third of insurance carriers in the U.S. consider marijuana users non-smokers. In fact, 54 of the 150 underwriters attending an industry conference in Washington in the spring suggested as much in a survey conducted by Munich American Reassurance Company.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Canada where according to Syed Raza, director of marketing for LSM Insurance, none of the insurance carriers in this country consider marijuana users non-smokers.

But what about those ingesting marijuana?
 
“Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that medical marijuana users will be able to use marijuana in ways other than smoking. This includes consuming marijuana through cookies, oils, lip balms and other extracts and derivatives,” Raza wrote in a recent blog post. “If a medical marijuana user is consuming 100% of their marijuana through a non-combusting method, then they are technically not smoking. If consuming edibles does not cause any more damage to the human body then eating a Big Mac or drinking a can of pop for example, it could be argued that these insureds should not be classified along with cigarette smokers.”
 
Munich Re’s survey also found that 49 per cent of the underwriters believe there is no difference in risk between those that smoke marijuana and those that ingest it.
 
"Historically, life insurance companies and their underwriters have erred on the side of caution with respect to marijuana use, given the uncertainty surrounding the drug," said Bill Moore, Vice President of Underwriting and Medical for Munich American Reassurance Company. "However, as our survey results indicate, a significant number no longer jump to classify marijuana users as smokers. Instead, they are placing a strong emphasis on frequency of use and medical history to determine rates."
 
As a result of this viewpoint by life underwriters, insurance advisors across the U.S. are able to provide their marijuana-smoking clients with premium rates almost half what they’d pay were they to be considered smokers.
 
Canadian clients so far haven’t been so lucky. WP asked Whitby advisor Mark Matsumoto why.
 
“Canada is less competitive,” Matsumoto remarked. “So it changes the pricing.”

See more: Pot-friendly carriers are the bong, says advisor