Five Canadian Insurers Recognize Marijuana Users as Non-Smokers

Posted by Cara Winfield on July 7th, 2016

MarijuanaRecently, five insurers in Canada announced their plans to begin underwriting medical and recreational marijuana users as non-smokers – reversing longstanding policies that have saddled those who use marijuana with charges up to triple those of non-smokers.

The five insurers implementing changes are:

  • Sun Life
  • BMO Life Insurance
  • Canada Life
  • London Life
  • Great-West Life

Sun Life is taking the most comprehensive approach, saying it will treat anyone who consumes marijuana but doesn’t smoke tobacco as a non-smoker. BMO Life Insurance is more restrained, limiting non-smoker status to people using only two marijuana cigarettes per week. Canada Life, London Life, and Great-West Life issued a joint statement on June 8. They stated that “clients who use marijuana will no longer be considered smokers, unless they use tobacco, e-cigarettes or nicotine products.”

Why Are Insurers Making These Changes?

For Sun Life, results of scientific studies into the health impacts of marijuana use compelled them to make adjustments. “In our industry, we keep up to date with medical studies and…update [our] underwriting guidelines accordingly,” said Sun Life in a statement. “As a result, people who use marijuana are now assessed…at non-smoker rates, unless they also use tobacco.”

BMO expressed similar sentiment in the memo they released.

How Will This Affect My Benefits Plan?

This change won’t affect group benefits as it doesn’t factor into insurability or cost for coverage. The extent of its effect will be changing the smoking status of a marijuana user to a non-smoker provided they don’t use any other nicotine products.


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About Cara Winfield

Cara has worked with HFG since 2008, specializing in helping business owners and self-employed individuals protect their income, their business, and their employees using insurance solutions. She is passionate about her work, starting in the insurance business after a relative suffered a life-threatening illness that potentially could have left the surviving spouse in a terrible position, as no income protection or life insurance was in place. Now she helps others avoid finding themselves in similar situations.In her spare time, Cara volunteers with Fit Active Beautiful Foundation as a mentor and coach, as well as teaching Group Exercise at GoodLife Fitness.

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