Drug use in Canada is prevalent to non-existent depending on what you define as a “drug.” Eleven per cent of the Canadian population “has a problem with drugs or alcohol” according to a CBC survey, but this does not include people who use drugs recreationally without “a problem.” That number, especially when you include alcohol and cannabis, is much, much higher, and if you include only people with classically-defined addictions to the illicit drugs, such as crack cocaine and heroin, the number is much, much lower.
In general, the way insurance companies approach drug issues is based on two major questions: is the potential client using prescription drugs provided through the proper channels, or are they using drugs outside those channels, and therefore statistically vulnerable to certain liabilities.
For the former, these questions are often discovered in the background checks and medical questionnaires provided by insurance companies prior to developing or offering a policy. Naturally, some drugs have effects on a person’s life expectancy and prospective quality of life, and others come with certain health risks, even when provided by a healthcare practitioner. In these, instances, an insurance company will take into account the medical issues being treated by the drugs and the effects of the drugs themselves in developing a policy, but a policy can usually be provided by most major health insurance providers.
For those who use illicit drugs, the options are generally more difficult. Usually, insurance companies are hesitant to provide policies, many are even wary of providing low-cost options for people who smoke cigarettes.
Luckily, there are some options still available for drug users, especially those who use illicit drugs. Remember, many policies will not cover complications that occur because of illicit drug use, and not disclosing such information when asked can constitute insurance fraud, which can be a severe crime that includes heavy fines and possible jail time.
In general, illicit drug users have only one option when it comes to life insurance opportunities: simplified life insurance policies that do not require medical questionnaires. This is changing as more and more insurance providers offer products specifically designed for the “hard-to-insure” market. Simplified insurance plans often require only simple medical questions that do not include questions about drug use.
No medical life insurance policies vary widely from carrier to carrier, so it is beneficial to research these plans before contacting them to compare potential rates and coverage. You can also ask your insurance broker to make an informal preliminary inquiry before you submit a formal application. Informal preliminary inquiries are non-binding and can give you an idea of whether your application would be approved as standard, declined or rated. Bear in mind that insurance providers may offer plans with coverage on day one or with a two year waiting period depending on your situation.
If you have used or are using illicit drugs and require life insurance, it is important to discuss your options with an insurance broker who has your best interests in mind. With the right team behind you, the right policy can be found.