Are Our Fears Justified? A Quick Look from a Life Insurance Perspective
We all harbor the fear of death on different levels, some of it dependent on how we were raised and what we were taught or exposed to on the news, and some of it might be related to our genetic makeup, brain chemistry, and general anxiety levels. Anything from plane crashes to shark attacks, vehicle accidents, and illegal drugs drive up our fear and emotion over time, causing us to worry every time we enter the ocean or hop on a plane. As an adult working as a life insurance agent, I think it’s fun to compare how we rate our biggest fears with how actual life insurance underwriters do using statistics and mortality tables to bet on your life.
As a kid growing up, my mom was often quick to point out the dangers of life. The first time I saw a convertible, my eyes lit up in wonder of the free spirited, fresh air mode of transportation, but my curiosity was quickly shut down by the potential results of a tragic car accident with decapitation possibilities if the car were to roll over, which made perfect sense; thanks mom. Motorcycles? Absolutely not! Oddly enough my dad had a motorcycle earlier in life, and a convertible later. I think skin cancer is actually the greater risk for him over decapitation.
I eventually overcame my fear of motorcycles, and at 25 I bought a bike, took a CHP safety class, and started riding safely for years until I began having kids and no longer had time, all while keeping it a secret from my mom. But every time I suited up for a ride, there was a little bit of fear that traveled through me before I twisted that throttle, and suddenly the focus of survival took over. The exposure, the hard objects moving at fast speeds, crazy drivers, heavy traffic, loose gravel, and close calls, of course riding a motorcycle is dangerous. But you know what? Life insurance companies don’t really consider it a high risk, not unless you’re engaged in frequent motorsport racing. Looking at statistics, motorcycle crashes are certainly more likely to result in a fatality than a car crash, but in the big picture there’s a lot more casual things we’re exposed to and experience that are a much more significant factors when determining our mortality. If you’re wondering, there are 72 deaths per 100,000 registered motorcycles, and for comparison there are 13 deaths for every 100,000 registered cars. Mileage will increase that spread, and it’s clear that motorcycles result in more deaths anyway, but the overall number is low.
Let's check off a couple other statistics while we're at it. Shark attacks? In the U.S. from 1958 - 2016 there were 35 fatal shark attacks, or .7 per year. Think about how many people enter the ocean every day. Commercial plane crashes? The odds of dying in a commercial plan crash are 1 in 16 million flights while dying in a car crash is actually 1 in 8772. We should actually be a lot more scared when we get into a car, but since we do it everyday, it feels somewhat safe.
We all know smoking tobacco is bad for you, and in fact it makes your insurance rates much higher. In my 20s, plenty of people smoked cigarettes. One cigarette can't kill you, right? On average smokers die 10 years earlier than non smokers. Living in NY back then and hitting the town late night, it wasn’t unusual to see people enjoying cocaine on the weekends. Among people that partook, there seemed to be a general belief that it was fine, and from a morality perspective it was on par with smoking marijuana. Going back to the life insurance company perspective, if they detect cocaine in your urine or blood samples, it’s considered an instant fail and denial on your application. Wow. Maybe it wasn’t as cool as people thought. And a lot of those same people that partook would probably say riding a motorcycle is too dangerous. It sounds like they picked the wrong risk to me.
Now what about that comparison of cocaine to marijuana? Well, on the legal level Marijuana has been knocking down legal barriers for several years. There’s still a stigma attached to it, and there are plenty of employers who are still opposed to seeing it in urine tests, but this article is about life insurance. As you might imagine, there’s still some life insurance carriers that will reject your application if they detect THC in your blood or urine, following the age old association that Marijuana is a dangerous drug. There’s other insurance carriers that will rate marijuana use the same as tobacco because well, you are smoking after all. But there is some great news for you marijuana lovers – there’s a handful of life insurance companies that will actually give preferred rates for occasional use, and some even frequent use. One company will still offer as high as a Preferred Plus (non-tobacco) rating when using marijuana up to 3x per week! Another will offer standard (non-tobacco) rates up for use up to 4x per week. Pretty good, huh?
So what does that say about the fear instilled in us at a young age about using marijuana? According to a few insurance companies, it’s probably not going to kill you, and if you’re a healthy adult and work with a knowledgeable life insurance agent, you’re likely to get preferred rates to cover your life and your loved ones. Now you can step into that ocean or onto that plane and have peace of mind, even if you're a little high too.
Check out www.lifeinsurance420.com for more information about applying for life insurance as a marijuana user. We’re on your side, and here to help set you up for the most success and the lowest rates.