We recently covered how the life insurance industry viewed cannabis smokers in the same regard as tobacco smokers when considering the insurability of a client. This has left cannabis users paying extraordinarily high rates just as tobacco smokers would. One of Canada’s top life insurance companies has decided to change this policy as cannabis use becomes more and more mainstream.
Sun Life Financial has just changed it’s policy on cannabis smokers, which separates it from virtually all other life insurance companies which have the same policy in regards to smokers. The company sent a message to brokers last week explaining the change in policy. “In our industry, we keep up to date with medical studies and companies update their underwriting guidelines accordingly,” Sun Life said in a statement Friday. “As a result, people who use marijuana are now assessed … at non-smoker rates, unless they also use tobacco.”
Jonathan Zaid, founder of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, says that cannabis users were being charged huge premiums, just as a tobacco smoker would and even being considered non-insurable in some cases. Zaid says that “It was a huge discrepancy in the way patients were being treated. I’ve even heard of (medical marijuana users) who couldn’t get mortgages because they were denied life insurance.”
Lorne Marr, a broker with Toronto’s LSM Insurance, says that this change is occurring due the the rising number of Canadians who are becoming cannabis users. “They’re trying to get an edge on the other companies. I don’t think they’re just trying to lower consumers’ premiums,” Marr said.
There is currently no concrete scientific evidence that cannabis use causes cancer the way that tobacco use does. Marr says that it’s about time this policy changed. “It’s great that they’re recognizing that the old policy wasn’t based on science. There’s no evidence that there is any long-term risk of cancer or anything equivalent to tobacco,” he said. He predicts that other life insurance companies will reverse their stances as well in the future as this trend of cannabis use will only continue upwards.