Insurance companies have the right to require drug tests for health and life insurance policies, but it is relatively uncommon to be requested. However, if the insurance company gets wind of any sign of drug abuse, this could lead to higher premiums or even the refusal of coverage.
Drug Testing: Group Versus Individual Policy
In most cases, those joining a group policy through an employer are not subjected to drug testing or a physical exam. It is up to the employer to make drug tests a prerequisite for the job, which is commonly seen in occupations that concern the welfare of others, such as medical professionals, judges, military personnel, airline pilots, heavy machinery operators, and more.
With the sheer number of people being covered, insurance companies adjust the group’s premiums to account for many risk factors, which includes recreational drug use.
The chances of insurance companies requiring drug testing increase greatly if a person is applying for an individual private policy. There is a good chance that if a test is not required, a higher premium is being charged to mitigate the risk. If you are being charged a higher rate and have not undergone a test, you may request one to see if that might lower your premium. However, that is not typically done.
What Are the Legal Ramifications of Testing?
Doctors often schedule appointments at applicants' homes within a couple of days of applying for the policy. This is so applicants do not have time to get the drugs or alcohol out of their systems. Some may think that over-the-counter flushing kits or overloading on Niacin tablets will cleanse their system, but modern drug kits are nearly impossible to achieve a false negative by way of dilution or covering the drug residue.
Generally, a failed drug test will result in either one of two things: loss of employment or the raising of your insurance premiums. There are usually no legal ramifications except in the case of a failed drug test causing harm to others.
People often worry they will be turned into the police as a result of failing a drug test. Drug test results are regarded as private, and in most cases, it is illegal for insurance companies to release the results to a third party. Insurance companies are generally not interested in your legal affairs, and more importantly, do not like being sued themselves. They are simply interested in making money.
The Bottom Line
Those who use drugs, even recreationally, tend to be at a higher risk for illness and disease than those who do not use them. Insurance companies will take every step possible to help ensure that their customers are as low risk as possible, ensuring that their tables stay current and are not overpaying on policies.
Some believe it is an invasion of privacy to be subjected to drug tests. However, customers are free to purchase their insurance from companies that do not require drug tests, but they have to be prepared to pay extra for that added level of privacy. As always, the best way to achieve the lowest premium and stay in the best possible health is simply to avoid illegal and/or recreational drugs entirely.