The short answer is sometimes. For the most part, it’s unlikely a life insurance company will test for THC after death.
If the medical examiner performs an autopsy on your body, there will always be a toxicology report. Toxicology reports screen for drugs, including THC.
This doesn’t happen to everyone. If you die of natural causes, most people will not have a toxicology screen and you don’t have to worry about insurance companies not paying because you have cannabis in your system.
When are autopsies required?
Few bodies are autopsied here in the United States. There is just isn’t the staffing or the money for it in most cases.
The Federal Government recommends medical examiners perform autopsies in the following situations:
- Violent death
- Sudden/unexpected death
- Death occurs under suspicious circumstances
- Employment related death
- When bodies will be otherwise unavailable for later examination (i.e. cremation, burial at sea)
- Person died in prison
- Person died in a psychiatric facility
- Death could cause a threat to public health
To give you an idea of the real numbers, less than 1% of nursing home deaths will have an autopsy. Less than 12% of non-medicolegal deaths involve and autopsy. (Medicolegal is the legal term for something involving medicine and the law.)
Can my life insurance company demand an autopsy?
Again, sometimes. It depends on the language of your life insurance contract.
Many life insurance companies will insert a clause into the contract giving them the right to request one at their discretion. But not all companies do. Unless you give the insurance company reason to suspect there was something suspicious about your death, there isn’t much reason to worry about a test for THC after death.
Most people will not read every word of their life insurance contract. It’s a dry read. But it’s important that you suffer through it to know if your life insurance company is one of the ones who do.
What happens if THC does show up in the toxicology report?
If it is probable that you were under the influence of THC at the time of your death, then your life insurance company might try to deny the claim.
Their success will depend on the following factors:
- the legal status of marijuana in your state
- how many years have passed since you purchased the policy
- if marijuana is a contributing factor to your death
- whether or not you admitted recreational marijuana consumption in your application
The legal status in your state should prevent a claim denial if marijuana is legal in your state. If you are smoking recreationally, it must be recreationally legal. If you’re in a medical marijuana state, you must have a prescription as well as THC levels in your blood consistent with recommended dosage.
The law is a little tricky because most companies will cite federal regulations against marijuana in trying to deny a claim.
What if marijuana is legal in your state and your life insurance company still tries to deny the claim? Your beneficiary can sue the pants off of them.
How long ago you took out your policy is also an important factor. In life insurance, there is something called the two-year contestability clause.
It gives the life insurance company two years to question anything you put on your application. Especially if you die within those two years. If it’s longer than that, the clause was put in place to protect the consumer. Believe it or not.
After two years, the life insurance company has to pay you. Except for cases where they can prove material misrepresentation or an attempt to defraud.
How can I take out a life insurance policy without worrying that they might screw over my beneficiaries?
Admit use on your application. It doesn’t result in an automatic decline anymore with these 12 marijuana friendly life insurance companies.
If you admit use, then the company underwrites you without an exclusion, you’re fine. They knowingly accepted you and can’t back out now.
Lots of people lie on their life insurance application. There are lots of reasons not to. This might be the biggest one.
If you avoid lying, you don’t have to worry about whether or not someone will request an autopsy of your body. Even if they do and the toxicology report comes back saying you’ve been having a great time, the life insurance company still has to pay.