Major reinsurer assesses mortality, morbidity and smoking status of marijuana users
Swiss Re's latest Life & Health Trend Spotlight - entitled ‘Where there's smoke there's fire' - explores what cannabis legalisation could mean for insurers.
Focusing on three areas of usage - medicinal, recreational and CBD vs TBC - the report takes into account the use of marijuana as a pain-reduction technique prescribed by doctors, its increasing uptake as laws relax and the emergence of its compounds in the form of oils, lotions and teas.
The document also considers hazards such as psychiatric dangers, accident death, addiction and smoking.
According to the report, there is ‘not enough evidence' to suggest that an increase in cannabis use or overdose has a ‘direct impact or mortality', while CBD (cannabinol) has ‘limited or no impact on mortality'.
Regarding morbidity, it said: ‘Effects of cannabis use disorder (CUD) and cannabis addiction could start to be seen in the workplace along with occupational disability.
‘Jobs with legal restrictions against using intoxicating substances that could affect performance are a risk, particularly where CUD might coexist,' it added.
The increased risk of psychiatric disorders associated with cannabis may likely impact disability and health products, however ‘the absolute numbers are small', said Swiss Re.
‘The decision to rate a cannabis user as a smoker depends on the type of consumption, whether tobacco is also used and the frequency,' said the report. ‘Unfortunately, this information isn't often collected in the life insurance application process and so a more pragmatic, and often conservative approach is taken.'
The report offers a rating option: ‘Smoker: Moderate or heavy use. Non-smoker: Ingestion, vaping only, experimental or intermittent use.'
‘However, you should also consider disclosure rates and the ability to challenge non-disclosure at claims time,' it warned.
‘The true impact of cannabis is still unclear,' the report concluded. ‘As its use becomes legal and more prevalent in more regions, we will see the emergence of long-term studies. Insurers should continue to monitor regulatory developments, trends in smoker vs. non-smoker ratings and the change in cannabis compounds to better understand the potential mortality/morbidity impacts.'
Swiss Re said it will review its current cannabis guidelines (medicinal use and drug abuse) to align with the changing landscape.
Read the report here.
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