Most life insurance policies exclude death related to illicit drug use from coverage and deny beneficiaries’ claims if the policyholder died from drug overdose. 

What about medicinal marijuana use? What about recreational use of marijuana in states where that is legal? 

Find out from noted life insurance lawyer Chad G. Boonswang, Esquire what happens when a policyholder dies with marijuana in their system, what a life insurance company considers in deciding to pay or deny a claim for death benefits, what a policyholder must do if they use marijuana, and what to do if your life insurance claim was denied due to marijuana use.

If your life insurance claim was denied due to marijuana use, call the life insurance lawyers at Boonswang Law. We can help!

Drug Exclusions

Death from drug overdose is a common exclusion from life insurance coverage. Life insurance companies will deny beneficiaries’ claims for death benefits if the policyholder death was drug-related.

Marijuana is considered a drug, but how life insurance companies treat marijuana use depends upon the following factors:

  • Is recreational use of marijuana legal in that state?
  • If not, is marijuana use legal only if prescribed in that state?
  • If so, did the policyholder hold a prescription for medical marijuana?
  • Did the policyholder disclose recreational or medicinal marijuana use on their initial application and medical questionnaire?
  • Did the policyholder die within the contestability period?

If the policyholder had group life insurance coverage through their employer, federal ERISA law will apply. Know that federal law does not yet recognize legal cannabis use of any kind. 

If the policyholder died within the contestability period, the life insurance company has the power to comb through their initial application and medical questionnaire for inconsistencies. If they find any (i.e., if the policyholder did not disclose marijuana use), the life insurance company has the power to deny their beneficiaries claims – even if the marijuana use had nothing to do with the policyholder’s death.

Life Insurance Coverage Denials Due to Marijuana Use

If recreational use of marijuana use is still illegal in your state, or the policyholder did not have a prescription for medicinal use, the life insurance company will consider the policyholder’s use of marijuana as use of an illicit drug. 

Know that even if the policyholder’s death had nothing to do with marijuana, if marijuana was in their system, the life insurance company will deny beneficiaries’ claims outright during the two-year contestability period. 

Material Misrepresentation for Marijuana Use

Even if the two-year contestability period has expired, life insurance companies deny beneficiaries’ claims for material misrepresentation if the policyholder did not disclose marijuana use on their initial application and medical questionnaire.

What To Do If Your Claim Denied Due to Marijuana Use

If your life insurance claim was denied due to marjuana, do not take no for an answer. An experienced life insurance lawyer will fight for you and help you appeal the life insurance claim denial.

First, your life insurance lawyer investigates and finds out whether the marijuana use had anything to do with the cause of death. Next, your lawyer uses that information plus whether or not the policyholder’s marijuana use was legal to negotiate with the life insurance company. You may be entitled to a payout in the amount of the death benefit minus what the policyholder would have paid in premiums had the life insurance company known of the marijuana use.

Applying for Life Insurance

It is crucial that policyholders disclose recreational or medicinal marijuana use to the life insurance company. This way, the life insurance company views marijuana as a lifestyle choice or prescription drug, not as an illicit drug.

If you are a policyholder using marijuana medicinally, tell your life insurance company so that your beneficiaries’ claims will not be denied for drug use. If you are a beneficiary to a policy owned by someone using marijuana medicinally, advise them to disclose their marijuana use to their insurance company so that they are not paying premiums all those years only to have your claim denied.

Talk with a Life Insurance Lawyer

If your life insurance claim was denied due to marijuana, call our experienced life insurance lawyers for help. The law governing marijuana use is complex and how it interplays with the various state laws and federal ERISA law is still evolving. 

We stay on top of current marijuana law and how life insurance companies can treat marijuana use and can help you get your payout if at all possible. Call us now to discuss your case, free of charge.