Must Insurance Pay for Medicinal Marijuana After an Accident?
Medicinal marijuana after an accident may, some feel, help with symptoms.
Should insurance pay for medical cannabis after you’ve been injured in an accident?
Whether you’ve sustained an injury at work or in a car accident, insurance covers medical bills.
At the same time, laws evolve slowly but surely.
As weed becomes legal in more and more states, both medicinally and recreationally, shouldn’t insurance pay if it reduces symptoms?
As of the time of this blog 33 states allow medicinal marijuana. The laws generally set up a licensing framework allowing patients with qualifying medical conditions to obtain cannabis. State laws give the providers and patients no risk of criminal prosecution. Massachusetts adopted its Medical Marijuana Act after a passage in 2012 of a ballot initiative.
Massachusetts Court Considers Insurance for Medicinal Marijuana After an Accident
A valid question comes up when those injured in accidents look to insurance companies to reimburse expenses for cannabis used to treat injuries. The question arose in a Massachusetts worker’s compensation case. And the issue went all the way to the top Massachusetts court, the Supreme Judicial Court. There, justices faced the question as to whether an insurance company may be ordered to reimburse an employee for medical marijuana expenses.
In the case, Daniel Wright injured his knee twice. Once the cable installer injured the knee stepping off a ladder. But after a second injury and two surgeries, severe postoperative complications set in. The diagnoses included deep vein thrombosis and complex regional pain syndrome. Symptoms included difficulty sleeping, anxiety and anger issues.
When all else failed the injured worker turned to medical marijuana. He obtained a certificate to enroll in Massachusetts’ medical marijuana program. In time chronic pain subsided. The use of medical cannabis increased his mobility, improved his sleep, and reduced both anxiety and anger. Mr. Wright also said the medical marijuana eliminated his need for opioids.
Workers compensation law requires insurers to pay for medical treatment as long as the treatment is reasonable and necessary. The treatment must also relate back to the person’s work-related injury.
Mr. Wright spent about $100 every one or two weeks on marijuana vaporizing products. He also consumed some $75 worth of edibles every day. Over an eighteen-month period, the total cost of the legal medicinal cannabis products added up to $24,267.86.
Not surprisingly the workers compensation insurance company denied the claim. The claim faced defeat also at the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, which hears such matters. Finally, an appeal landed in the dockets of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Medicinal Marijuana After an Accident – What the Court Considered
The court started out its analysis pointing to contradictory state and federal law. While many states allow medicinal marijuana it remains illegal under the federal controlled substances act.
“We recognize that the current legal landscape of medical marijuana law may, at best, be described as a hazy thicket.”
Massachusetts S.J.C., Daniel Wright’s Case, October 27, 2020.
Massachusetts law holds there should be no punishment for those qualifying for medical marijuana. The administrative judge earlier found the employee’s testimony entirely credible where he pointed to positive benefits from the medical cannabis.
But the bottom line in the appeal hinged on language in the medicinal marijuana law. The troublesome language states that health insurance providers, government agencies and providers can’t be forced to reimburse medical marijuana costs. In fact, the court found many states with medical marijuana laws protect insurers from being ordered to pay for medical cannabis.
“It is not unreasonable, given the current hazy regulatory environment and shifting winds of Federal enforcement, for insurance companies to fear that paying for a claimant’s marijuana could expose them to potential criminal prosecution.”
Massachusetts SJC – October 27, 2020.
Most insurance companies operate nationwide. So, the rationale that convinced the court held that the illegal status of weed under federal law could find insurance companies in hot water if paying for medicinal cannabis.
Bear in mind most observers consider Massachusetts one of the more liberal courts in the U.S.
Medicinal Marijuana After a Car Accident?
The above case answered the question in the workers compensation context. Things are no better for medicinal marijuana users after an auto accident. Those injured in car accidents in Massachusetts find coverage for medical bills under something called “Personal Injury Protection”. Also known as “PIP”, the provision in every auto insurance policy sold in Massachusetts pays for up to $8,000 in medical bills and/or lost wages after a car accident.
But that so-called “no-fault” insurance provision specifically excludes medical marijuana. Another provision in car insurance policies covering medical bills known as “medical payments” or “med pay” also excludes any payment for medical cannabis. That’s true of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the two states in which I’m licensed.
One insurance industry publication claims there are actually six U.S. insurers offering medicinal marijuana coverage. But such coverage appears rare if existing at all in the context of insurance payments after an accident.
Insurance Industry Reservations About Medicinal Cannabis
Insurance companies raise many questions beyond the patchwork of cannabis laws. For one, the medical profession points to numerous factors doctors would have to consider. One such factor is determining the correct dosage of medical marijuana to prescribe.
During development and testing, prescription drugs evolve with dosage guidelines. Insurance people point out that the marijuana industry has not even agreed to standard terminology covering correct dosage of CBD and THC. Issues include avoiding headaches, intense highs or other discomfort while taking medical pot products. Marijuana patients also face skepticism over the extent to which treatment is in fact valid.
No question, legal and other uncertainties exist at this time. The highest court, no pun intended, in one of the more liberal states in the country resists the question. So, finding insurance coverage for legitimate medicinal cannabis after an accident is likely to take time.
The author, attorney Andrew D. Myers, practices personal injury law in Massachusetts and New Hampshire with offices in North Andover, MA and Derry, NH.
Cannabis and Insurance, National Association of Insurance Commissioners, The Center for Insurance Policy and Research, article last updated May 15, 2020.
Daniel Wright’s Case, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, No. SJC-12873, October 27, 2020.
What Exactly Does the Life Insurance Drug Test Look For?
The life insurance drug test varies somewhat between companies. For the most part they all test for the same things. Although there are a couple variations on methods. We broke down the different substances into categories. Each category has what it is, what it does, what happens if they find it, and how to pass the life insurance drug test.
Don’t lie on your application! If you get caught, you have serious problems to deal with.
Important! Don’t lie on your insurance application. Don’t lie to your medical examiner. That’s insurance fraud. If you die and the insurance company can prove that you committed fraud, your beneficiaries won’t get paid. At all. If you don’t die and get caught, no other insurance company will touch you. Ever.
We recommend that you stop using any of the following for at least a year before applying for life insurance. With the exception of caffeine, marijuana, and nicotine. Then just make healthy, responsible life choices.
A year is the magic number in most forms of insurance. If you maintain a habit (or lack of habit) for a year, the insurance companies tend not to worry about it. Sometimes the application will ask about any use in the past 3 years. So consider yourself forewarned.
Types of Life Insurance Drug Testing
There are three main types of drug tests for life insurance. The medical examiner will take samples of your blood and urine every time . The hair follicle test is up to the discretion of the insurance company you are applying with.
Urinalysis is the most common. You urinate into a container. Then they take it back to the lab and test it. Sometimes there is a temperature strip on the side of the container to ensure that the urine is yours. It also assures that the sample is fresh.
A urinalysis mostly shows what has passed through your system in the past week. Although marijuana can show up 4 to 6 weeks after the last time someone smoked.
The Blood Test
Blood tests are almost always done as well. During your paramed exam (the medical exam for life insurance), the examiner will draw blood. They test everything from your liver function, to communicable diseases, to cardiovascular issues.
Your blood work will reveal drugs consumed in the past 3 to 5 months.
The Hair Follicle Test
Hair follicle test are less common. Although sometimes required when there is specific concern for drug use. This is a pain because it holds records of what you may have taken 6 to 9 months ago.This last one is not routine for the majority of life insurance companies. However, if you have had treatment for addiction, an underwriter might require it.
Quick disclaimer. We do not advocate or encourage the use of illegal drugs. This article is for information purposes only and should not be construed as either legal or medical advice in any way. We want you and your family to be safe, happy, and healthy.
Drug Categories Commonly Tested When Applying for Life Insurance
The following categories are in alphabetical order. Mostly by their chemical names since slang varies depending on where you live in the country.
Amphetamines / Methamphetamines
Meth or Crystal Meth are the most common varieties of these, as well as a life insurance company’s main concern. Adderall is also an amphetamine. It’s an upper and extremely addictive.
If these show up during your exam, the insurance company will decline your application. Amphetamines should leave your system in a week to 10 days. Fewer if you use less.
Chemical compounds similar to these can create false positives in drug tests. Make sure to let the medical examiner know if you have taken cough syrup, antihistamines, or other allergy medication in the last week.
How long do amphetamines and methamphetamines stay in your system?
You should be fine in 10 days. If you are especially paranoid, give yourself a month along with exercise and plenty of water.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for amphetamines and methamphetamines
- Stop using (meth)amphetamines for at least a year before applying for life insurance
- Make sure to note a prescription for Adderall on your application if you have one and are taking it regularly
- If you need help kicking a meth addiction, please call a support line
- If the insurance company doesn’t specifically ask about recreational drug use, don’t say anything
These are downers which can provide a feeling of euphoria. They are mostly prescribed for headaches, seizures, and insomnia. If they’re in your system and you didn’t list what you were taking for any medical conditions, decline.
How long do barbiturates stay in your system?
Drug tests can detect them in blood for up to 3 months. Same with hair follicles. So don’t take any for the three months leading up to your insurance exam. Also, exercise and drink lots of water.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for barbiturates
- Do not take any barbiturates for at least a year before applying for life insurance
- Do not lie on the application, but do not volunteer information
Xanax, Valium, and other tranquilizer type drugs belong to the benzodiazepine family. These are commonly prescribed for anxiety or given to patients before surgery.
How long do benzodiazepines stay in your system?
They last up to 10 days in blood and urine. As long as 3 months in hair follicles. Stop taking them, drink lots of water, and exercise.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for benzodiazepines
- Do not take without a prescription for at least a year
- If you have a prescription, make sure to say why you’re taking it on the application and how often
- Do not volunteer information that isn’t asked for on the application
This is not as common, but occurs often enough that it’s important to mention. Because if they find caffeine in your blood and you have high blood pressure, you might be looking at increased rates. Caffeine is a chemical that makes you feel awake. It naturally occurs in coffee and tea.
It’s not a big deal if they find it. Although some insurance companies link it with reduced lifespan. We haven’t found any medical evidence citing causation or even correlation. Some insurance companies think people who habitually drink caffeinated beverages tend to be more nervous, anxious, and have higher blood pressure.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for caffeine
Skip your coffee the morning of the exam. You might suffer that terrible headache, but it won’t be worth the headache of increased rates.
People indigenous to South America used to chew coca leaves for a bit of extra energy during their day. Cocaine is made from those leaves with other stuff added in for processing. It gives you energy. Although some people use it to combat fatigue. So what happens if cocaine shows up on your drug test? Decline.
How long does cocaine stay in your system?
For occasional use, your blood and urine should be clean after three days. For habitual use, give yourself 4 to 6 weeks off. Some of the chemicals they test for get stored in body tissues. They also can show up in sweat. Cocaine can show up in your hair for years.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for cocaine
- Stop taking cocaine for at least a year before applying for life insurance
- Don’t lie about use on your application. Although if the application doesn’t ask, that’s on the insurance company.
The chemical in marijuana insurance companies test for is THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol. While no companies (to our knowledge) are yet testing for Cannabidiol, that doesn’t mean they won’t start. The differences between the two chemicals are why some strains give you more of a mental high. While others give you a stronger body high. But that is a conversation best left for your local bud tender.
So what happens if THC shows up in either your blood work or urinalysis? That depends on the company. If it is inconsistent with your answers to the health questionnaire, you might face a decline. However, some companies don’t care as much. Take either Met Life or Prudential for example. They are two of the most marijuana friendly companies available. Meaning if you smoke a few times a week, you can still get non-smoker rates.
How long does THC stay in your system?
It really depends on how much you smoke. Everything should be out of your system if you take 6 weeks off.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for marijuana
- Stop smoking for a year, or
- Apply with a 420 friendly company like those listed on our top 12 marijuana friendly life insurance companies
- Don’t lie about smoking on the application
- We are experts at helping people who use marijuana get life insurance approval at the lowest rates. Contact us for confidential help.
Methadone is an opioid used primarily for pain treatment. It is also commonly given to recovering heroin addicts to ease withdrawal symptoms. If they find it in your system when you have recently been treated for substance abuse, it will depend on the records from the doctor who treated you. Most likely the application will get postponed. Possibly declined. On the other hand, if you are taking it recreationally, you will get declined.
How long does methadone stay in your system?
Urinalysis is the most common methadone test. If you drink lots of water and wait 5 days, then you should be fine.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for methadone
- Quit for at least a year before applying for life insurance
- Don’t use any without a prescription
- If you have a prescription, make sure to note what you were diagnosed with on your application
Cigarettes. Cigars. Patches. Gum. Chewing Tobacco. Even e-cigarettes. If you have nicotine in your system for the examination you will most likely get a smoker rating. In some cases, a decline is possible. But these are mostly when people lie on their applications. Tobacco smoke is one of the top ways to dramatically increase your life insurance rates.
How long does nicotine stay in your system?
In urine, drink lots of water. Nicotine can stay in your system up to 20 days after your last cigarette.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for nicotine
Stop smoking for at least a year before applying for life insurance. Although many life insurance companies will allow you to reassess after a year if you apply before that benchmark.
Oxycontin, Morphine, Heroin, Hydrocodone, etc. Most of these will leave your system in a matter of days. If any show up on your drug test without your stating a prescription on your exam, decline.
How long do opiates stay in your system?
In 5 days, everything should be gone from your blood stream. Hair is the tricky one again, lasting as long as 90 days.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for opiates
- Do not use opiates without a prescription
- If you use them recreationally, quit for at least a year before applying for life insurance
- Never lie on your application. Although if they don’t ask, don’t tell
- Don’t eat poppy seed anything for a day or two before your test
PCP causes people to feel a sense of delirium. Since there are no medical uses for it anymore, any of it showing up in your system will merit a decline.
How long does phencyclidine stay in your system?
By the time 10 days have passed since your last use, it should be out of your blood and urine. However, heavy use can cause it to show up for a month in a urinalysis test. With hair tests, we are back to the 90 day period.
How to pass the life insurance drug test for phencyclidine
- Don’t use it
- Stop for a year before applying for life insurance
- If you have trouble quitting, an anonymous addiction life or family/friend support can help
- Always be honest on the life insurance application. If it’s been several years since you quit, underwriters may sometimes overlook it.
How to Pass the Life Insurance Drug Test – Overview
An independent life insurance agent (like at Marcan Insurance) should know which companies will specifically ask about which drugs. Like we have stated over and over, lying on your insurance application can lead to bad things for you and your family. So don’t. Please.
That being said, quitting anything for over a year can increase your chances of getting better rates. It also basically guarantees that nothing will show up in your system during the drug test.
Just don’t do anything silly like eating a poppy seed muffin the morning of your test. We had a colleague unwittingly make that mistake. We had a good laugh at her expense. She also had to take the exam again.
If you have any questions about which companies ask the least amount of recreational drug indulgence questions, call us at (888) 987-8447. The call is completely confidential. What you do on your time is your business. Making sure your family has financial protection is ours.
About Chris Abrams
Marcan Insurance Mission: To help marijuana users get approved for the best insurance policy at the lowest cost. We have over 10 years experience and know life insurance underwriting and products inside and out. Read our client reviews. Life insurance rates are set by the insurance companies and you will not find a lower rate anywhere else for the same product. Contact us for confidential help today and finally take life insurance off your to-do list.