Pubdate: Sat, 04 Nov 2017 Source: New York Post (NY) Copyright: 2017 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. Contact: http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/letters/letters_editor.htm Website: http://www.nypost.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/296 Author: John Aidan Byrne POT SMOKERS' INSURANCE PREMIUMS TO GET HIGH Pot smokers in the US can't get off scot free, since many will now have to take it on the chin and pay a steep marijuana penalty -- to sign up with life insurers, that is. Marijuana indulgence, recreational or medicinal, is sharply raising the price of some premiums, with certain issuers making the same risk assumptions for pot smokers as cigarette smokers. The cost of a 20-year, $1 million life insurance policy, for example, can be as much as five times higher for a pot smoker compared with a clean-living nonsmoker, according to one broker. There are no consistent industry mandates, or best practices, as marijuana comes out of the shadows and is legal in eight US states and the District of Columbia. "We don't get into that side of things, that is something for individual company operations," Jack Dolan of the American Council of Life Insurance told The Post, referring to insurance companies' marijuana rules. But one broker has plenty to share about weed. And the numbers are mind-blowing. Mark Maurer, president of LLIS, an independent insurance agency in Tampa, Fla., addressing a recent conference of the National Association of Professional Financial Advisors, recommended practitioners ask clients about pot habits when reviewing their life insurance. Although some issuers will overlook occasional usage, others will boost rates if you smoke dope at all, which puts marijuana users on the same spectrum as cigarette smokers. "Right now, I don't know of any life insurance companies who will out and out decline an applicant because they smoke marijuana," Maurer said. Maurer told of a 36-year-old New Jersey woman who informed him she vapes marijuana once or twice a week, and then got sticker shock on her 10-year, $1 million policy quote. One of the issuers offered an annual premium of $3,772 -- the same rate as on the 10-year plan for tobacco users. Another issuer asked only $677, the rate for which it would hit up a non-tobacco user. Maurer says the New Jersey client's transparency paid off because she could stay clear of a costly contract, and avoid trouble later if the insurer discovered her usage through medical or other records.