Life Insurance and Marijuana: Do Policies Cover Cannabis-Related Deaths?

If your life insurance claim has been denied, you may feel confused and frustrated. After all, the essence of a life insurance policy is in the insurer’s promise to make a payout upon the insured’s death.

Unfortunately, that promise is not always kept. Almost every accidental death policy and some life insurance policies have a list of exclusions that outline scenarios of when the insurer will not pay the claim. What is alarming is that these reasons not to pay your life insurance benefits can often be interpreted in such a way that almost any death falls outside of the coverage area.

Illegal drug use is one of the reasons the insurance company will deny coverage. But what about marijuana? It is legal in some states so will the policy pay the death benefits if the insured had marijuana in their system at the time of death? 

Our life insurance lawyers answer these questions and more. If your life insurance claim has been denied due to marijuana use, keep on reading to find out how to fight this and win your case or call us at (888) 510-2212 for a free consultation.

life insurance claims and marijuana deaths

Does Life Insurance Cover Marijuana-Related Deaths?

When dealing with a claim denial due to marijuana use, the most common reasons insurance companies use for refusing to pay are material misrepresentations on the application and drug exclusions in accidental death cases.

Material Misrepresentations on the Application

When people apply for life insurance, they are asked to complete an application and answer several medical questions.

Applicants are expected to provide honest answers on which insurance companies rely when they issue policies. Where a question on the application asks about the insured’s drug use or prescription medication use, cannabis use should be disclosed. Since life insurance companies are not required by law to investigate the medical history of an applicant prior to issuing a policy, they generally take an applicant’s answers as true and correct.

If the insured dies within the first two years from the date the policy was issued (also known as “life insurance contestability period“), the insurance company will check the insured’s medical records to see if there are any inconsistencies with the answers provided on the application. Thus, if the insured used cannabis and did not disclose it on the application, the insurer may treat the nondisclosure as a material misrepresentation and deny the claim.

The outcome will depend on the laws of the state where the policy was sold.

If the policy was taken out in one of the states where cannabis use is legalized, the denial should be challenged. A life insurance lawyer experienced in this field will help you fight your unfairly denied claim. 

Read more about how material misrepresentation on a life insurance application can affect your claim for death benefits.

does life insurance cover cannabis deaths

Life Insurance Claims and Medical Marijuana

At the time this article is written, medical cannabis has been legalized in thirty-five states. However, there is no guarantee that death benefits will be paid if the insured legally used marijuana for medical reasons. It is not uncommon for life insurance policies to deny payment in such cases.

You may have problems claiming the death benefit if the insured failed to disclose using marijuana for medical reasons when applying for a life insurance policy. This may be considered material misrepresentation and lead to a denied life insurance claim if the insured died within the first two years of the policy issue date. 

Drug Exclusions and Marijuana Use

The illegal drug use exclusion states that the insurance company will not pay the claim if the insured’s illegal drug use caused or contributed to the death of the insured. This exclusion can be very broad and can encompass almost all cases where it has been determined that the insured had drugs in his/her system at the time of the death.

What exactly constitutes illegal drug use can be challenged by a life insurance attorney experienced in such cases.

It is not uncommon for insurance companies to deny claims because of the drug use exclusion in cases where the insured had used marijuana prior to his/her death. If marijuana intoxication from cannabis-infused cookies or other edibles is a contributing factor, the insurer will undoubtedly apply the drug use exclusion as a reason not to pay the claim.

Beneficiaries whose life insurance claims have been denied due to marijuana use should seek legal advice from an experienced life insurance lawyer. Since cannabis laws in different states vary, a life insurance attorney experienced in marijuana-related cases will guide you through the appeal process and will help you understand your options. Call us at (888) 510-2212 for a free case evaluation.

cannabis deaths life insurance coverage

What To Do If Your Life Insurance Payout Has Been Denied?

You do not have to accept the denial of your claim as the final verdict. 

The use of marijuana can be legal depending on whether the state where the insured consumed marijuana has legalized cannabis use, whether the dose consumed was in the proper range, and whether there were valid prescriptions (medical marijuana cards) for medical marijuana. After a thorough investigation, it may be determined that your claim should be paid but that the insurance company wrongfully denied it by misinterpreting the drug use provision or not considering state legalization of marijuana.

It is important to remember that not all life insurance cases are controlled by state laws. Many claim denials are governed by federal laws. Federal law does not yet recognize medical marijuana. For example, group life insurance claims (cases where the insured obtained an employer-provided policy), FEGLI, VGLI, and SGLI claims are controlled by federal statutes. Federal law does not yet recognize medical marijuana. 

All drugs are regulated through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811). The act does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational use of marijuana and treats all marijuana like other controlled substances (cocaine and heroin). Under the Act, every controlled substance is categorized according to its relative potential for abuse and medicinal value. Under the CSA, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, or highly addictive and having no medical value.

Marijuana Laws by States in 2021

16 states have legalized both recreational and medical use of marijuana. In addition to these, 19 states have legalized only medicinal marijuana.

StateRecreational UseMedicinal Use
District of ColumbiaYesYes
New HampshireNoYes
New JerseyYesYes
New MexicoYesYes
New YorkYesYes
North DajotaNoYes
Rhode IslandNoYes
West VirginiaNoYes

Contact a Life Insurance Lawyer If Your Claim Was Denied Due to Marijuana Use

Laws surrounding life insurance claim denials and marijuana use are very confusing. An attorney specializing in this area of law will be able to overturn the denial. 

We offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless you win and receive your life insurance payout.

If your life insurance claim has been denied due to marijuana use or for any other reason, call us for help at (888) 510-2212. Our life insurance attorneys will investigate the denial and will help you recover the life insurance proceeds to which you are entitled under the law.

See how our attorneys helped recover ADD benefits for a claim denied due to marijuana use.

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