The Law Dictionary

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Can a Life Insurance Company Deny Your Application for a Positive Test for THC?

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Before agreeing to underwrite your life insurance policy, any competent life insurance provider will subject you to a full medical exam that includes a number of urine or blood screening tests. The medical exam that you take will be similar to the one that you receive at your annual physician's checkup. It may include some questions about your eating and sleep habits as well as an ear, eye and reflex examination. It's also likely to include a standard blood pressure reading as well as blood tests for triglycerides, cholesterol and sugars. Finally, you'll be hooked up to a heart monitor and checked for signs of heart disease or hypertension.

Of course, you may be especially nervous about the chemical tests to which you'll be subjected at your life insurance medical exam. While it's not guaranteed that your life insurance company will test your urine for a range of illicit substances, it's probably wise to anticipate such an eventuality.

It's important to note that you won't be held criminally liable for failing your insurance company's drug test. Known as HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prevents insurers from reporting any information about your behavioral choices to the legal authorities. However, you may suffer plenty of other consequences after failing your test. The exact ramifications of your failed test will depend upon the policies of your particular insurance company.

Your insurance company is certain to test your urine for the presence of a chemical known as cotinine. This substance is a natural metabolite of nicotine that remains in the urine for about 96 hours following the cessation of tobacco use. If you use tobacco on a regular basis, you should cease doing so within a week of your exam. Otherwise, it's likely that you'll test positive for the nicotine metabolite and be forced to pay your insurer's expensive "tobacco" rate.

Your life insurance company may also test for metabolites of cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, barbiturates and other types of drugs. If it chooses to conduct a thorough drug screening, THC is likely to be one of the substances included in the so-called "test panel." As a fat-soluble substance found in the leaves and buds of the marijuana plant, THC can remain detectable in the blood and urine for four to six weeks. If you smoke marijuana regularly, you must cease doing so within one month of taking your drug test. Even if you have a prescription for the drug, your application may be denied in response to a positive reading.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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