Properly insuring tree trimming and landscaping risks

Tags: , , Business Insurance
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curb appeal imageWhat does it take to properly insure a tree trimming or landscaping companies?  If you’re a highly physical business like these, then properly insuring your business means more than just getting general liability, a few guys, and a truck.  Protecting your business financially means, protecting you, your employees, your vehicles and more.

Statistics from 2011 show that landscaping pros like yourself, saw a 25% increase in work fatalities.  How does that affect you?  That means that your landscaping or tree trimming employees, vehicles, and along with their work are your responsibility.  Doesn’t that make sense?  Consider the following:

Scenario 1:  Your employee working on a sprinkler system spends a number of hours working on a large yard.  In the course of the work day, he bends over, slips on into a trench and breaks a leg.  Who is responsible for his injuries?

Answer:  While most people would say, that since he’s a 1099 employee, his injuries are his own.  However that couldn’t be further from the truth.  The truth is that your company is liability for the employees injury and illness due to work related injuries.  In fact, if you have more than 5 employees, you have to report illness or injuries to the state of Texas.  Aside from that, by not carrying workers compensation, you open yourself to lawsuits from your employees.

Did you know that you had report work related illnesses or injuries that result in more than 3 missed work days?  Di you realize that even family employees can file lawsuits against your business for work related injuries?  Most people don’t consider these scenarios.  How about the next scenario.

Scenario 2:  In your landscaping business, you purchase two pickup trucks and have a foreman to drive your vehicles.  Because you already have personal auto insurance, you decide to add those to your personal policy with a business usage rating.  After adding the pickup truck, your crew leader has an accident in the pickup truck.  Will your personal auto insurance policy provide protection for an employee?

 

Answer:  No.  If your personal insurance company finds out that your employee drives your vehicle in business, they could and probably would deny any claims.  That means, your company would have to pay for any damages caused by the employee’s car accident.  What’s the solution to the this problem?  In this case the, your company should have a commercial auto policy for the vehicles used in your landscaping business. That way you have the option of coverage any vehicle whether you it’s hired, owned, non-owned or leased.  Also with the business auto policy you can add special coverage any driver you give permission to drive.

How about scenario 2, what are your thoughts?  It’s a fact that most personal lines insurance companies will insure your personal owned vehicle for business use.  However, adding a business use rating normally does not extend to employees.  While they will cover YOU as the vehicle’s owner in your business, your employees are another story.  They could deny any claim resulting in an accident caused by or involving your employees.  That could mean,  personal injury protection or bodily injury due to work related injuries or accidents caused by your employees while driving your car.  What about the final scenario.

Scenario 3:  Imagine while mowing yards, one of your mowers strikes a rock and sends it hurling towards a nearby kid.  The child is hurt in the process and needs stitches.  How do you provide protection for your business against this type of occurrence without having to pull out the checkbook and pay for the child’s injuries?

 

Answer:  You probably realize that commercial auto, and workers compensation would not provide this type of protection.  In this case, your general liability policy could provide protection against bodily injury, property damage, and even medical payments in the course of working in your business.

As you can see, correctly insuring your business has many layers.  Whether you’re protecting yourself, your business, or your employees takes different policy types.  Whether you get all your policies inside a business owners policy, or you purchase individual policies, protecting your business is paramount.  Since we live in the day and age where you can be sued for anything and everything, why not protect yourself.  You’ve worked hard to get where you are and protecting your landscaping or tree trimming business can go a long way if you get the right insurance coverage.

 

Quickest way to get your insurance license in Texas

Tags: , Agents
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“I need to be insurance licensed tomorrow!”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that statement. Everyone wants the quickest, shortest path to getting their insurance license. Well, my friends, I am here to give it to you!

Over the last four years, I have come to realize that what seems like the easiest and cheapest path to licensing, isn’t always so. To be successful on your state insurance exam, you need the proper preparation. What you have to decide is, “what is the best method for me?” Here are a few ways for you to prepare for your insurance exam.

  1. Study, Study, Study. With this method, all you know is that you want to start making the “big bucks” like your buddy, or the person that interviewed you for the job, is making. Their advice is to get your license and then come back and see them. You don’t know how you are going to go about getting your insurance license, but you do know how to Google stuff! One of the first items that appears in your search is “Insurance Licensing for Dummies”, sounds promising. Not that you are a dummy, but if a book can dummy this stuff down so you can pass the exam, then you’re in. You order the book and read it from cover to cover, absorbing as much insurance lingo as you can. You go take your test and…..FAIL!
  2. Online Insurance Licensing Course. “Ok, this time is going to be different!” You order the best online course you can find. It has a book and an exam simulator for you to do practice exams…”Sweet!” You read the book, cover to cover and take the practice exams over and over until you have them memorized. You go take your test and…FAIL!
  3. Classroom Insurance Pre-Licensing Course. “This is what I needed the whole time!” You attend a 2 or 3 day class, have an instructor, that has been in the insurance business for 30 years, telling you insurance sales stories, and every once in a while talking about test material. You think you are getting the test information that is going to make a difference this time. You go take your test and…FAIL!

If any of these approaches sound familiar to you, you are not alone. The majority of the people looking to get into the insurance industry, have no idea exactly what is needed to prepare for the state exam.

What if I told you that all of the information that you study and even see on the test, you are never going to use again? Isn’t that the way most exams are to begin with? So, why would you want to learn it all? How about we give you the “Cliff Note” version, give you just enough, so that you can go into the testing center and walk out with a passing grade?

My company, Texas Insurance Training Academy, focuses on just the test material; we don’t teach you about insurance! In our 2 or 3 day classes, we cover each section of the state exam, but more importantly, we work on your test taking skills. Let’s face it, if you don’t read a question correctly, it is kind of hard to answer it correctly. We make sure that you Stop, Slow Down, Read Every Word and Know What the Question is Really Asking. We then work on eliminating answers so that you can get it down to 2 answers and pick the best answer for the question that is being asked.

So, back to the original statement about needing to be licensed quickly. Our live classes can cut your study time down by at least 10 days. We get you focused on the information you need and get rid of the fluff. If you can’t make it to one of our live classes, we offer a video based, online course. Whichever method you choose, you get our guarantee that you pass your exam the first time, or we will pay for you to take it a 2nd time. Find another company with that type of guarantee…they don’t exist!

Trust me when I say, you only want to take the state insurance exam once! By following our recommendations, we know that you will find the success you are looking for.

What you need to know about insuring older homes

dallas homeowners insurance, Homeowners Insurance
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Texas is home to a hot housing market.  If you’re selling a home or listing home, things couldn’t be better.  The high demand for properties in places like Dallas means you can start a bidding war.  This also means Dallas is a great market for real estate flippers, investors, and renters.  While it is very easy to insure a new home, what about older homes?  Here are a few tips to help insure an older home.

Bundle with Auto Insurance when possible

Everything is bigger in Texas; including the insurance premiums on older homes.  Older homes carry higher insurance premiums.  In fact many preferred insurance carriers will not insure your older property unless you add auto insurance to sweeten the deal.  While you may be happy with your Geico or Progressive premium, you could be paying 30% or more on your homeowners insurance due to your brand loyalty.  Companies that offer discounts for bundling include Safeco, Travelers, The Hartford, Kemper, and MetLife.  On top of that, if you find yourself in situation where you have to file claims on both auto and home due to a catastrophic storm, you’ll be glad you bundled your policies.

Look at completely renovated homes first

If your budget permits, ask your real estate agent or realtor to show you homes that have been newly renovated.  Home insurers offer discounts for older properties that have been either turned into green homes or newly renovated.  While it varies by company, insurance carriers are looking for updates to the Roofing, Plumbing, Electrical, and Air Conditioning systems.  The previously mentioned systems are the ones that normally lead to major losses.  On the other hand, some insurance carriers want a home to be rebuilt from the ground up.

In a recent phone call with an insurance company, the underwriter said, they were impressed with the quality of the home’s workmanship.  She felt the home was great risk.  However, this particular carrier only gives credit if the home is demolished down to a point where only one wall was standing.  If that happens, they would offer new home credits on  an older home.  Needless to say, we chose another carrier that gave credits for the home system updates.

Avoid Home with Non-Weather Related Claims

Here’s an important fact.  Texas insurance carriers are prohibited from increasing your rates due to weather related claims.  That means your home can get struck by lightning and burn to the ground.  As along as your claim is weather related, the insurance carrier will neither increase your rates nor disqualify you for that claim.  Keep in mind, there are ways of tracking lightning strikes.

On the other hand, older homes with claims for water, theft, vandalism and malicious mischief are subject to more underwriting scrutiny.  As a result, it is important that you double check this prior to purchasing your home.  In fact, you should check these during an option period if possible.  This will keep you from losing earnest money or paying more for your insurance.

Look for homes with one layer roofs only

If you come across a home with a 2 layer roof, get ready to work.  While wood roofs are generally a thing of the past, they tend to come up when you least expect it.  I’ll make this one as simple as possible.  Composition overlay roofs are fine as long as the first layer is also a composition roof.  Some insurance companies will baulk because they may be forced to remove two layers during a claim.  However, comp over comp is not impossible to insure.

Unlike comp over comp roofs, older homes with composition (or another other material) over wood shake are nearly impossible to insure for a number of reasons.  After a roof loss, the insurance company has to pay to remove all layers and then re-deck and re-roof the entire property.  On top of the high expense associated with comp over shake roofs, wood shake roofs burn like toilet paper.  So, older homes with wood roofs and knob and tube wiring could mean a recipe for disaster to an insurance company.  It’s best you avoid those hazards unless you can have the updated before purchasing your home.

In the end, no home is impossible to insure.  Some are more difficult than others.  It’s up to  you, the buyer or seller, to make sure your home is in the best insurable condition.  For older homes, renovated homes with updated wiring and one layer roofs make it much easier for insurance companies.  Since the majority of older homes now require visual inspections, these tips will help you save money and time on your insurance premiums.

Back to the basics of Personal Insurance

Auto Insurance, Homeowners Insurance

In 19 years as an insurance agent, I’ve forgotten more about car insurance than most people know.  As a result, I over think topics for the blog.  In reality, we all need to get back to the basics when it comes to insurance.  As a result, my next few blog posts will cover will help you in building a foundation to help your family remain safe and secure through out your life.

A Holistic Approach to Personal Insurance

Generally, we look at our insurance in silos.  It goes something like this.  Get the auto insurance bill, check that rate.  If it increases, shop for another one or look around for better car insurance.  Need renters insurance, go to the people that gave you a flyer at the leasing office.  You need homeowners insurance, ask your mortgage broker.  While you may have cheap insurance, beware of  gaps in coverage.

In 2014, Take a more holistic approach to your insurance and get to know an agent that understands you.  Think of your insurance portfolio as a puzzle.  How do you put that puzzle together so that the picture makes sense when you file a claim?  Will your personal injury protection cover out of pocket medical expenses after an accident?  Can you confirm that type of information by rate sniping  your insurance?

Auto Insurance is more than you think.

I officially declare war against all insurance agencies in Texas that specialize in nothing but minimum non-standard liability only policies.  From there, I’ll just bite my tongue.  If you bought your car insurance from a store front that has a sign in the window stating something like the following:

Liability starting at $39 per month… No License, No Problem… 

The policy that many of these  non-standard specialists sell is an inferior policy to one you would have gotten from Travelers, The Hartford, Safeco, Progressive; the list goes on.  So when that guy comes on TV and scares you into thinking your credit is too bad to get a preferred rate, remember the U.S. Government has shaky credit too.

Seriously, your auto insurance has more than just the limits listed on the declarations page.  Your standard auto insurance policy has lots of hidden goodies their non-standard companions change, reduce, or remove altogether.  Two examples include coverage extending to rental vehicles, and having automatic coverage on newly acquired vehicles.   So the next time you’re shopping for auto insurance, ask a few questions about the coverage you might be missing.  If the agent can’t answer your questions, find one that can.

The Foundation Endorsement is a must.

Millions of Texas homeowners are unknowingly exposed to major loss due to a slab leak.  Imagine this, after 10 years in your home, you’ve consistently gotten water bill ranging from $30-$50 per month.  Then all of a sudden, poof!  You get a $500 water bill.  When you call the plumber, he says that you have a broken pipe underneath or inside your home’s foundation.

The costs of accessing and repairing damage of this nature can range from $1000 for a bare floor with stained concrete to thousands if you have hardwoods, or tile, or any other special flooring.  The harsh reality that many Homeowners in Texas have had this experience but purchased insurance without this coverage is almost criminal.

So, if you’re like most Texas homeowners with a slab foundation on a ground, get a quote for the foundation coverage.  The $100 a year over 50 years in your home will save you thousands if you ever use it.

You mean Obamacare doesn’t cover life insurance?

I just said the L word; no pun intended.   First off, the federal government only pays $255 in survivor’s benefits. If you love your family and you want to be buried somewhere other than the backyard, get life insurance.  I’m not referring to the old kind where the guy drives by your house and picks up your cash payment and pays out $5000 when you die.  I’m talking about the new kind, that term life insurance that’s cheap, it’s got all kinds of riders and attachments.  I’m talking about the new kind that helps build up tax free cash and gain stock market like interest.

Regardless of what kind suits you, that should be a part of everyone’s portfolio.  The life insurance industry has evolved from the old debit agent to online life quotes, purchasing through e-signature.  With the cost availability of medical and policy requiring no medical, life insurance is a no-brainer.  Thank modern medicine for helping us live longer.

Put it all together – Insurance is a no-brainer right?

Now all you have to do is take the auto, homeowners, life and health insurance and put them all together and make that puzzle fit together.  You have two options, you can call GEICO for your car insurance or call their insurance agents that help them with their auto, home, life, and health insurance.  Odd are, if you a that agent needs help on his life insurance or homeowners insurance, he’s probably going to call me.

Do I Need Life Insurance

Life Insurance
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Have you ever asked yourself  whether or not you need life insurance?  If you’re like most people there’s a simple way to answer that question.  If someone will suffer financially when you die, then you need like insurance.  Regardless of your stage in life, owning a life insurance policy is the most important financial decision you’ll ever make.  Unfortunately, many families make the mistake of saying things like, “well I only bring a little money to the family…” or “they’re better off without me…”  As a result, many families suffer financially because of life insurance ignorance.  Let’s talk about some of the mistakes people make when answering the question of needing life insurance.

I only need life insurance for burial

While it is true that life insurance is important for final expenses.  Have you ever considered the problems your family would experience without your contributions?  Regardless of whether you’re  a housewife or you bring in a six figure income, the burial only approach fails to address other issues.  Consider the following scenario:

A married couple with a husband that makes a generous income decides to buy life insurance should he die prematurely.  Hey purchases 10 times his annual income of $100,000 per year in a 20 year term policy.  For his wife, he decides to get a burial policy only.  As he feels like he can still bring in money if his wife to die.  As for him, his 1 million life insurance will replace his income to help maintain the family’s standard of living.

While it may sound as if this is a sound approach, the husband and wife failed to consider the value of the wife’s household contributions.  While she does not bring money into the household, her premature death would prevent the husband from spending time working and making money.  Losing a non-working spouse could mean that the kids now need the other parent to pickup the slack.  So, who picks the kids up after band practice, the soccer game; who cooks dinner?   These are all reasons for purchasing more life insurance.

I’m young and single, why do I need life insurance?

If you’re young and single, that’s a better time than ever to purchase life insurance.  While life insurance is more than just final expenses, purchasing life insurance at an early age means you pay less than those that wait until later in life.  Also, purchasing the right policy at an early agent could guaranty your insurability for the rest of your life.

Another factor for the young and invincible to consider is that purchasing life insurance early could guaranty that you retire wealthy.  The right universal life policy can be used to take cash values and make purchases and gain interest for various life events.  Has anyone ever told you that you can take the cash out of the right policy and purchase a home, a car, fund college, or retire with tax free income?  The right policy can do all of that and even more.  Purchasing life insurance at a young age or purchasing life insurance for kids can go a long way guaranteeing that you meet your long-term financial goals.

Get Life Insurance Today

Regardless of whether your’e a small business owner that needs to fund a buy-sell agreement with a partner, a working dad that needs income replacement, or a college student getting started in the world; there’s always a need for life insurance.   Regardless if you ultimately need term life, universal life, or whole life, there is a policy and solution to you.  The first step is to get started.  Contact an agent or get a life insurance quote today.  We made it easy.

Will New Texas law limit the use of limited auto insurance policies

Auto Insurance
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock of the past few years, you’ve probably come across an insurance company that offers “named-driver” auto insurance policies.  Just in case you have been residing in the West Texas desert, let me explain what a named-driver policy is.  A named driver auto insurance policy is a policy that restricts coverage to only drivers listed on a policy.

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As I’ve previously written, all auto insurance policies are not created equally in Texas.   In most standard and preferred policies, offer coverage for “permissive use” as long as a driver operates within the scope of permission has been a way of life.  Suppose you have a relative that moves into your household and you give them permission to drive your car.  If that driver has a wreck, that driver is covered by your insurance company.

This is where policies in Texas diverge.  There are a number of companies that have a provision in their policy that every household driver must be rated on a policy or excluded from coverage.  That means, the relative that moves in must be added to your policy or they stand the risk of not having coverage if they have an accident in your car.  Aside from not providing coverage for unlisted drivers, these limited Texas auto policies also reduce additional features that are too long to list in this post.

Subsequently, you should beware of the policy that asks you to exclude drivers, reject coverage initial your life away.  In fact, here’s a novel thought.  Read everything and question the agent before signing everything on your application.  Hopefully, like most people, you purchase insurance to protect you and your family.  If your agent cannot or will not explain the level of coverage, then run fast!

With all that said, the Texas Legislature recently passed a new regulation targeting these limited policies.  Effective January 1, 2013, insurance companies that write limited insurance policies must specify that the policy is of the “limited variety”.  According to the Dallas Morning News, “a measure that the Legislature enacted and Gov. Rick Perry signed into law this year requires that insurers who sell “named driver” auto policies disclose the limits of the coverage to drivers. They must also list the names of covered drivers on insurance ID cards they issue to customers.”

So the next time you’re looking for auto insurance, keep this post in mind.  Comparing rates is not the only means by which you should compare your auto insurance.  Now more than ever, your level of coverage should be the most important feature.  At the time of a claim, if you could have paid $10 more, would it have been worth it to add your relative or more coverage to your policy?  Hopefully this post makes you think.

Companies move retirees to Health Exchanges to reduce expenses

Health Insurance

According Bloomberg and other news sources,  IBM says it will move them to a health exchange where they may have cheaper plan options.  IBM spokesperson, Doug Shelton, was quoted as saying the move will affect 100,000 medicare eligible retirees.

To handle the administration of this tremendous shift, IBM enrolled the help of Plano, Texas based insurance benefits administrator, Extend Health to handle calls, questions, and enrollment.  IBM is the latest in a growing list of companies choosing to move health insurance benefits from private plans to state health exchanges in efforts to reduce costs and provide more consumer choice.

Other large organizations that have made similar moves include UPS and the State of Michigan.  In the cases of the United Parcel Service and the state of Michigan, each of these institutions chose to move spouses to state exchanges in efforts to reduce group health insurance costs.

Individual health insurance mandates as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a Obamacare)  are scheduled to commence January 1, 2014.  At that time, all Americans are required by law to carry approved health insurance.  The open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act begins October 1, 2013 and ends December 15, 2014 for policies to become effective January 1, 2014.  Under requirements of the act, health insurance can no longer deny coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions.

Original Article Here.

 

Your realtor doesn’t know jack about homeowners insurance

Tags: , Dallas Insurance Rates, Homeowners Insurance
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Recently, I received a request from a real estate agent and friend.  She wondered why I turned away quotes from real estate agents and Realtors looking for lower rates (namingly her).  After explaining that giving me a name and an address is not enough information to get a quote, she responded with the following:

If Realtors and loan officers calling you quotes, that’s a good thing; don’t you think so? Sometimes (quotes), work for their clients and sometime the quotes do not work for their clients.

My main goal is to get the lowest insurance for my clients and an insurance quote is too high it won’t work for DTI which means have to fine cheaper quote to fit for his DTI so they can get an approval.

I do not understand what the problems is getting quotes from you. The numbers got to work for an individual borrower in order for borrower to get an approval. You can always change the policy on next renewal; can’t you?

How long does it take to rebuild a home that has the wrong insurance?

My response to her question was candid.  Unfortunately, it takes less than a year to burn a house down and gets sued by the insured for failing to properly cover them at the time of closing.  I’ve witnessed too many instances where doing what you request leads to financial devastation.  It is important to understand that things happen and when you JUST get a LOW RATE.  Your clients should expect and deserve better.

When I realtor or a loan officer sells a home, they get their commission and move on.  When I sell a home, I marry the customer and deal with the late night calls.  As a result, make sure to I look out for 3 parties on every transaction.  Not only do I write policies, but I protect my client, my agency, and the insurance company relationships.  If I fail to properly protect my client, many people get hurt.  Ultimately, I find that good protection always trumps lows rates.

Remember the 2012 Tornadoes in Lancaster, TX

This reminds of a story.  A church member that told me my rate was too high.  She purchased a house for the loan amount, which was well below the actual replacement cost.  Unfortunately, she was one of the poor folks caught in the Lancaster Tornado.  Her $60k policy was enough to pay off the loan and satisfy the lender, but the level of coverage kept her from getting her home properly rebuilt.  As a result, she had to worry about whether she could get assistance from local charities, the state of Texas, and FEMA.

 Getting the right homeowners insurance protection is everything!

Understanding this makes it  I make a policy to only offer policies that will allow me the ability to sleep during a storm rather than worry about whether one of my clients is missing coverage.  If the margins are that tight for your clients, then I may not be a good fit for your clients.  If they want protection, then I am the agent for them.

 

Marijuana and Life Insurance, Yes you can and Yes they Do.

Tags: , , Life Insurance

Brad Cummins of LifeHealthPro states, “… With eighteen states accompanied by Washington DC now allowing marijuana for medical use, life insurance companies are viewing marijuana usage differently.”  Life Insurance companies does not view Marijuana usage the same like cocaine, for example. Testing positive for THC will not lead to a flat rejection of a life insurance policy.  If a client uses marijuana they may receive a cigarette smoker’s rate, which are substantially higher than those of a non-smoker.

The eighteen states (along with Washington DC) that have now legalized marijuana are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

With many states legalizing the medical benefits of this drug, their are certain procedures applicants for life insurance need to be aware of.

Procedures:

These tips will help your clients get approved for life insurance if they use marijuana.  First the applicant needs to disclose the marijuana use information up front.  If marijuana shows up on blood or urine tests, without the applicant telling the carrier, the applicant will be declined.  All carriers will require a drug questionnaire when you disclose this information upfront, as they will want to know the reasons for use as well as how often.  All carriers will also require a urine test.

Each life insurance company has its own guidelines and underwriting rules; therefore the use of marijuana is viewed differently by each. Some companies will rate applicants as a standard smoker, giving them double the rates of those as a nonsmoker while others are okay for occasional use. The rules and ratings vary widely. Let’s take a look.

Ratings by Insurance Companies

Life insurance classifications for a marijuana user are guidelines and are not set in stone; they can change at any time per the company consideration. Also other health conditions could change consideration.  The following of some of the guidelines that insurance companies follow with regard to smoking marijuana and life insurance.  We’ve omitted the company names to protect their proprietary information.

● Company Guideline:  Smoking marijuana more than twice monthly could result in the rates of a smoker with the possibility of a table rating. Smoking two times per month will set the rating as a standard non-smoker. Applicants who smoke two times a year or less could be rated as a preferred best non-smoker.

 ● Company Guideline:  Applicants could be considered a standard smoker with occasional use. They could be rated as a substandard table B smoker with daily use.

 ● Company Guideline:  Applicants over 25 years old who smoke pot experimentally to intermittently might get standard smoker rates. Moderate use could be a table 2 rating.  Heavy use will be declined.  Other drug use will also be a factor.

● Company Guideline: A standard smoker classification will be given if there is any marijuana use in the past 12 months. However, an applicant be classified as a sub-standard smoker if medical marijuana is prescribed.

● Company Guideline: Applicants who use marijuana eight times a month or less could be classified as a standard smoker. Users who smoke more than eight times may be considered a sub-standard smoker. Also, this company does not recognize prescription use of marijuana.

● Company Guideline: If marijuana is prescribed, users could be classified as a Table 4 Smoker. With daily use, they could be classified as a preferred smoker.

 ● Company Guideline: If a prescription is shown on one’s medical records and usage is stated on the application, applicants could be classified as a non-smoker. Occasional users without a prescription can be classified as a standard smoker.

● Company Guideline: Applicants can use marijuana up to two times per week and be classified as a standard non-smoker.  Usage of 3-4 times a week will result in a sub-standard Table B non-smoker rating. Applicants will be declined if they use marijuana more than four times per week.

● Company Guideline: Applicants who otherwise would merit a preferred plus rating and uses marijuana occasionally (once a month to once a week) could get a preferred plus non-smoker rating. (More than once a week is equivalent to a smoker’s rate.)  Daily use could be a table 4 rating. Heavy users could be declined.

 ● Company Guideline: Applicants will rate as a standard nons-moker with up to weekly use.  If lab results indicate more frequent usage, then smoker rates will apply.

 ● Company Guideline: Applicants who test positive for THC could be given a smoker table 3 rating. Occasional or recreational users will be given preferred non-smoker rates but will have to test negative for THC.

 ● Company Guideline: Applicants over 25 years old who use marijuana 3-8 times per month could be rated a standard smoker. If they use 8-16 times a month they could be rated as high as a table 2 smoker. More than 16 times a month will be declined.

 ● Company Guideline: Marijuana use could result in a standard smoker rating.

 ● Company Guideline: Using marijuana up to two times per month and testing negative for THC will qualify applicants as a standard plus non-smoker. A Table B non-smoker (even with THC positive lab tests) rating will be applied if usage is up to four times per week. Usage over four times weekly will be declined.

 ● Company Guideline – Marijuana smokers could be considered a standard smoker rate class with no other health issues.

 Researching the companies

As you can see, life insurers’ ratings for marijuana users vary widely. Even if medical marijuana is prescribed, applicants could be still be classified as a smoker or declined. For those of your clients who use marijuana medicinally or recreationally, it is essential that you, as their advisor, research life insurance companies before applying. When combined with other health problems, marijuana usage will not be well received by an insurance underwriter.

Applicants who already have a life insurance policy in force may be paying unnecessarily high rates. Each company’s insurance underwriters view the use of marijuana differently. Don’t let your clients pay high life insurance premiums if less expensive alternatives are available.