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What Is the Measurement Used for THC on a Typical Life Insurance Medical Exam?

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When you sign up for a life insurance policy, you’ll need to submit to a detailed medical exam that measures a range of health metrics. Although some life insurance companies issue policies that don’t require a pre-approval exam, such policies tend to be inadequate for the needs of most middle-class consumers. For prospective policyholders who haven’t yet turned 40, “no-exam” policies may feature death benefits of up to $100,000. For older policyholders, such policies rarely feature death benefits of more than $50,000. In addition, these policies’ annual premium costs increase rapidly with age. Unless you don’t require a high-value policy or don’t mind paying higher premiums, you should opt for a standard policy that requires a pre-approval exam.

You shouldn’t be nervous about your life insurance medical exam. Unless you’re trying to hide a smoking habit or worry that your poor health will disqualify you from coverage, you’ll find the test to be mundane. It will most likely consist of three parts: a detailed health questionnaire, a basic fitness screening, and a battery of metabolite screenings and blood tests.

Many prospective policyholders approach this battery of tests with unease. If you habitually smoke cigarettes, your habit will be revealed by the presence of nicotine metabolites in your urine. If you have unsafe levels of cholesterol, a cursory blood test will expose you to closer scrutiny. In both cases, you’ll be compelled to pay higher premiums.

If you use marijuana, you might be even more nervous. After all, marijuana remains illegal in many jurisdictions. You might worry that a positive result on the THC-metabolite component of your test battery could land you in serious legal trouble.

Fortunately, these fears are likely to be unfounded. Insurance companies don’t typically report the results of the drug screenings that they conduct to law enforcement agencies. However, these screenings can still have unpleasant consequences. If your urine indicates the presence of THC metabolites or other drug-related substances, your policy’s premiums will increase substantially. In all likelihood, you’d be compelled to pay about as much as a habitual tobacco user.

Since THC metabolites remain detectable in urine samples for four weeks or longer, you’ll need to stop using marijuana well in advance of your test. Then again, most insurance companies use a test that lacks the precision of a law-enforcement exam. In most cases, the test will respond to the presence of at least 50 nanoliters of THC metabolites per milliliter of urine. This compares to 15 nanoliters per milliliter for most “official” tests.


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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