Impact of Marijuana, Vaping, and Tobacco on Life Insurance in Canada

What classifies you as a smoker on your life insurance policy?

4 Minute read

Impact of Marijuana, Vaping, and Tobacco on Life Insurance in Canada

Impact of Marijuana, Vaping, and Tobacco Usage on Life Insurance in Canada

What classifies you as a smoker on your life insurance policy? Contact our advisors today!

4 Minute read

Impact of Marijuana, Vaping, and Tobacco on Life Insurance in Canada

Life insurance companies will ask you about your smoking habits when assessing your health for a life insurance application. Insurers will commonly look at your usage of tobacco products, but marijuana and vape usage are also two other products that may impact your life insurance.

What classifies you as a smoker?

Smoking has its long term side effects that accumulate the longer you smoke for. As a result, some companies will charge from 30% to 300% more for those rated as smokers, depending on how much they smoke, and how long they’ve been smoking for.

What classifies you as a smoker for life insurance in Canada?

Insurance companies will classify you as a smoker if you’ve used any of these products within the past 12 months:

  • All tobacco products, including pipes and cigarillos, except for the occasional cigar*
  • Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes)
  • Other vaping devices or nicotine-based products (such as nicotine patch, gum, or smoking cessation products)

*An occasional cigar is often defined as one large cigar per week with negative cotinine results on urine tests.

This means that to be considered as a non-smoker, you need to have quit smoking for a year.
More specifically, insurance companies will often define a non-smoker as someone who has not used any tobacco or nicotine products in the past 12 months, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, water pipes, betel nut, smoking cessation products or nicotine or tobacco in any other form or more than 12 large cigars.

Some companies will classify you further into different non-smoker categories depending on how long you have gone without smoking. For example, Manulife will classify you as Healthstyle 1, healthstyle 2, or a non-standard smoker if you haven’t smoked in the past 10 years, 2 years, or 12 months respectively. Classifications like these help reduce your premiums: the longer you’ve gone without smoking, the cheaper your premiums can be. That being said, even if you’ve just quit now, your premiums will lower as time goes on.

How does vaping and e-cigarettes affect life insurance?

Insurance companies will treat vaping and e-cigarettes users as smokers. This is because while vaping and e-cigarettes are still relatively new and their effects being lesser known, vaping and e-cigarettes are not free of potential health risks.

Although the contents of e-cigarettes can differ from brand to brand, they can contain some or all of the same toxins as traditional cigarettes, making it just as dangerous for your health as smoking regular cigarettes. Some vapes contain nicotine, and Health Canada warns that vaping with nicotine can lead to nicotine addiction. The impact of inhaling the substances in vaping products are currently unknown and are continuing to be assessed, but the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada also warns that vaping is linked to respiratory issues and increased blood pressure. Due to all these health risks, vaping and e-cigarette users are considered as smokers to insurers.

How does marijuana affect life insurance in Canada?

With the legalization of cannabis in 2018, insurance companies have changed how they view cannabis users in their policies. In the past, recreational marijuana smokers would be treated the same as smokers which would result in higher premiums. Cannabis users are now considered non-smokers by most insurers with some limits to how much they can smoke each week. Cannabis users that exceed the weekly limit set by the insurance company could fall under the smoker category.

How many joints can you consume per week and still be considered a standard non-smoker?

The typical weekly limit set by insurance companies is 2 or 3 joints per week. If you consume marijuana (ie. edibles), the limit is the same as smoking. This means that if you’re an occasional marijuana user that usually smokes 3 times per week, you can qualify for standard traditional life insurance or simplified life insurance with non-smoker ratings.

If you exceed the marijuana limit set by a specific life insurance company, you won’t be able to get standard non-smoker ratings, meaning your life insurance will be more costly. If you are a daily marijuana smoker you might have a harder time getting approved for traditionally underwritten life insurance. In such cases, No medical life insurance is an option for easier approval, although at a higher premium than a traditional fully underwritten policy for non-smokers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the impact of marijuana, vaping and tobacco on life insurance

Life insurance companies will consider your smoking status when rating you during the underwriting stage, this can affect your choices of life insurance policies, and change the price of your monthly premiums. If you vape, smoke cannabis or smoke tobacco, and it is a habit, your life insurance will rate you as a smoker. 

The limits of how much cannabis you can smoke or consume can vary depending on the insurance company, but on average if you smoke 2-3 joints a week or consume 2-3 edibles you won’t be considered a smoker. If you smoke 2-3 joints or consume 2-3 edibles you will be able to get a traditional underwritten or simplified life insurance policy at a standard, non-smoker rating. If you smoke or consume more cannabis than that, then you could be labeled as a smoker.

A smoker is someone who has used any of these products in the last 12 months: 

  • Any tobacco products (cigarettes, nicotine base products)
  • E-cigarettes, vaping device
  • Marijuana (over a certain limit)

*An occasional cigar is often defined as one large cigar per week with negative cotinine results on urine tests.

The major difference between smoker and non-smoker life insurance is the monthly premium cost. Smokers tend to pay a much higher amount than non-smokers. In some cases, life insurance companies might deny your life insurance if you’re a smoker and will recommend you to get a simplified plan or a no medical plan.  

  • Any tobacco products (cigarettes, nicotine base products)
  • E-cigarettes, vaping device
  • Marijuana (over a certain limit)

*An occasional cigar is often defined as one large cigar per week with negative cotinine results on urine tests.

If you take up smoking when you already have a life insurance policy, your life insurance policy will not become void. It is in your best interest to report to your life insurance company that you have become a smoker because if you die from a smoking related condition within the contestability period of your life insurance policy, your life insurance benefit may be withheld from your beneficiary. 

This amount differs depending on many factors including your health, your age, your gender, and which company you’re trying to get life insurance from, but a smoker will generally pay higher than a non-smoker and the rate can be dramatically higher than a non-smoker. Get a quick, personalized life insurance quote from anywhere in Ontario click here. We also have a chart that shows the approximate cost for life insurance for smokers and non-smokers for $250,000 in coverage and $500,000 in coverage from multiple Canadian life insurance companies, for a 40 year old male and female, for a 10-year term life insurance policy: 

Monthly rates for a 10-year term life insurance for a 40-year old seeking $500,000 in coverage for male/female smokers/non-smokers from different companies.

Monthly rates for a 10-year term life insurance for a 40-year old seeking $250,000 in coverage for male/female smokers/non-smokers from different companies.

Finding The Right Life Insurance For Your Habits

Working with a life insurance advisor can help you determine which life insurance company’s recreational use limits align with your habits. At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare quotes and policies from the best life insurance companies in Canada to help find the perfect solution for your needs..

Contact Protect Your Wealth or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to our life insurance advisor today. We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and work with clients anywhere in Ontario, including areas such as Oshawa, Barrie, Kitchener-Waterloo, Waterdown, and Windsor.

Talk to an advisor today.

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