Recently, 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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