Friday, February 25, 2011

Can Cocaine Users Get Traditional Life Insurance?

According to the most recent data (2009) from the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, cocaine and its derivatives were the most popular drugs used by those fifteen years or older, after marijuana.

Whereas cannabis was used by 10.6% of us during the year of the survey, roughly 1.2% of people had experience with cocaine and crack. An average of 11% of Canadians experienced an unlawful drug in the same interval. Among these drugs are heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, speed, hallucinogens (excluding salvia) and, of course, cannabis and/or marijuana. 17.7% of men and 7.6% of women had tried drugs, with youth reaching 27.3%.

Since 2004, Canadians have been abusing banned drugs less and less. This leaves plenty of former users and addicts who will want to purchase life insurance one day.

Quite understandably, insurers in Canada do not really particularly favour the use of cocaine or of other drugs. Current cocaine use, or other forms of recreational drugs, will earn the applicant an instantaneous rejection. This is simply because unlawful drug use is a pre-existing medical condition. It should be noted, however, that drug users may qualify for simplified issue policies. This coverage is not subject to any medical tests and often does not have a drug related question.

We inquired four leading life insurers and scrutinized how their underwriting guidelines look at ecstasy, heroin and cocaine. Here is what we found:

  • Ongoing addiction to heroin, cocaine or ecstasy will earn the applicant a decline on the part of the insurance company.
  • If the applicant has not been involved with drugs for more than 4 years, the insurer’s quote will in all probability lead to a policy rating if the applicant is otherwise in good shape. A policy rating means for the insured that he or she pays an additional monthly premium on his or her insurance plan due to the larger risk to the life insurance company. Plan ratings are generally in a multiple and can be anywhere from 1.5x to 5x the insurer’s usual cost.
  • If the client has not been abusing drugs for over 4 years, the client may qualify for standard premiums (i.e. without policy rating). Of course, this only works if there are no underlying health and lifestyle issues.

An insurance advisor with enough experience in this specific area can help you acquire quality life insurance for a reasonable price.

Lorne S. Marr, author, is an insurance specialist and an expert on hard-to-insure clients. Lorne works with over a dozen Canadian insurers, such as London Life Insurance Company or London Life Insurance Company.

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