7 Reasons Not to Lie About Smoking Marijuana on Your Insurance Application
As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana usage, life insurance companies must slowly follow suit by changing their policies. However, many life insurance providers may raise their usual rates, or outright deny coverage to frequent users altogether. In light of this, some marijuana users have lied on their applications to ensure the best rates. While there is a potential for success, the cons far outweigh the pros in this case. Below are 7 of the many reasons why lying about marijuana use on your life insurance forms is a bad idea.
1. You’ll Probably Get Caught
All life insurance companies require a fairly in-depth mandatory medical exam to complete the application process. This medical exam includes a health questionnaire, basic fitness assessment, and a blood and urine test. If you’re an infrequent or one-time marijuana user, you might be able to skirt around the tests and get a negative result as infrequent use can only be detected within a 28 hour window in blood tests, and a 7 day window in urine tests. However if you’re a frequent marijuana user, THC can be detected in your urine for over two months. This period can last even longer if you have a slow metabolism or are overweight.
It’s also worth mentioning that the “flushing method” in which the person being tested drinks large amounts of water in an attempt to flush the evidence out of their body doesn’t work. If your urine is too watery, the test will be refused and you’ll have to take it again.
2. “Hard” Insurance Fraud Is a Felony
It’s important to note the difference between “hard” and “soft” insurance fraud. “Soft” fraud is when the fraud is either an accidental lie, or is an exaggeration. For example; if someone told their insurance company that they smoked 7 cigarettes a day instead of 9, it would be “soft” fraud. Lying about cannabis use is of the “hard” variety, in which the person is fully aware of the lie they are telling. “Hard” insurance fraud results in a felony charge, a possible prison sentence, and hefty fines.
3. You May Be Denied Coverage When You Need It Most
If you manage to dupe the test and get an insurance premium that’s lower than it should be, you’ve only prolonged the inevitable. If you contract a serious illness and need insurance to step in, they’ll most likely need you to take another test. This time, there’s very little warning and you’ll most likely be caught. If your insurance discovers that you’ve been lying, your policy will be dropped immediately and you’ll be left to foot the bill yourself.
4. You’ll Probably Be Sued
After your insurance decides to drop you, they’ll most likely sue you for past services. That means that on top of whatever medical expenses you’ve accrued, you’ll also have to provide back pay to your insurance company for every dollar they’ve spent on you under your plan. This will probably set you back many years financially.
5. You’ll Be Blackballed
So you’ve gotten caught in insurance fraud. Surely you can apply to a competitor if you’re truthful this time, right? Incorrect; insurance companies share databases, which means that every major insurance company (even if they’re direct competitors) will probably know what you’ve done. In the best case, they’ll offer you a policy that’s drastically more expensive than the increased rates causes by marijuana or tobacco use. In the worst case, they’ll all deny you all together and leave you stranded.
It may seem like the only reason to let your life insurance company know your drug habits is to stay out of jail; however, cultural and legislative attitudes towards cannabis use are changing for the better, and life insurance companies are shifting their policies to follow suit. Here are a few good reasons to let your insurance provider know beforehand.
6. It’s Possible and Probable That You’ll Get Coverage
If your marijuana use is medical in nature, then you usually have nothing to worry about. Most insurance companies are understanding of your condition and will provide you with a plan that accommodates for that. Even if your use is purely recreational in nature, as long as cannabis use is legal in the state you’re applying in, you should have few issues. However, you’ll probably be charged extra depending on your usage level. Generally, if your test is undetectable you may qualify for preferred rate (the lowest price) insurance. However, some insurance companies may bump you into the standard plus (second lowest price) bracket by default. If your test comes back positive but you claim to use marijuana less than once per week, you’ll probably be placed into the standard rate class, which is the average insurance price. Lastly, if you use marijuana more than once every few days you’ll most likely be placed into one of the tobacco rate classes that pay the highest rates.
7. HIPAA Protects You
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ensures that your insurance company cannot share any of your health information with the authorities unless they have a court mandate or warrant for your arrest; or there’s information therein that may assist in apprehending another criminal. This means that unless you were already in trouble with the law based on marijuana charges, no information can be shared.
Lying about marijuana use on life insurance documents is not only dangerous for your physical wellbeing, financial longevity, and police record, its also completely pointless. Thanks to HIPAA there’s no chance that your use will be disclosed unless you were already in some trouble with the law. If you’re upfront about your use, many companies will accommodate you.
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