Does your client smoke marijuana? Advisors need to know

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Marijuana habits will give the cost of life insurance a contact high, unless financial planners help clients find a company that doesn’t penalize them for partaking.

Advisors should ask clients about their usage when recommending life insurance policies, Mark Maurer, president of fee-only insurance brokerage LLIS, said at last week’s NAPFA Fall Conference. Some issuers treat marijuana users like tobacco smokers and charge higher rates, he says. Others let it slide.

The District of Columbia and eight states have legalized pot, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The situation poses difficulties for clients even as it creates investment products and tax savings. Life insurance applications now ask clients if they smoke weed, Maurer says.

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“As long as we know it up front, we can go to all the companies and see what they’re offering,” said Maurer, who dressed up like the “Harry Potter” character Professor Dumbledore for a movie-themed session about insurance, annuities and long-term care at the NAPFA conference.

To illustrate the point, Maurer provided an example of 10 different quotes on a 20-year, $1 million policy he received for a 36-year-old New Jersey woman who told him she vapes pot occasionally. Advisors need to ask the method of usage and the frequency, Maurer says.

In this case, the client vapes marijuana once or twice a week. One of the issuers quoted an annual premium of $3,772, its rate for regular tobacco users, while another asked only $677, its rate for a non-tobacco user.

The client’s disclosure avoided her getting locked into an expensive contract or needing to start over again if the insurance company had found out about the pot habit through medical records or other means, Maurer points out.

“Each company has their own guidelines,” Maurer said, noting the difference of nearly $62,000 between the cheapest and priciest offers. “This one company says, apparently, twice a week is OK.”

Maurer had earlier explained which LTC insurance products best fit certain characters from the movie “The Incredibles.” Advisors examining LTC policies need to consider how much coverage their clients will need, keeping in mind that an average of 24% of LTC insurance coverage goes unused at death, he says.

The superhero costume designer Edna 'E' Mode, who is single and high-net-worth, makes a “great client” for hybrid life policies or annuities, according to Maurer. Older characters, or clients, on a fixed income would not mesh well with products that can carry such high upfront cost, he says.

“If adding long-term care is going to change a clients’ lifestyle in retirement, it’s probably not a good fit,” Maurer said.

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Life insurance Insurance Insurance plan premiums Annuities Long-term care Client communications High net worth Medications and drugs NAPFA LLIS LTC Resource Center