Do Insurance Companies Test Customers for Drugs?

While insurance companies have the right to require drug tests for health and life insurance policies, requests for testing are uncommon. Still, if the insurance company sees signs of drug abuse, they might demand higher premiums or refuse to cover the individual.

Key Takeaways

  • Insurers have the right to require drug tests for health and life policies. Still, requests are rare.
  • Signs of drug abuse may lead an insurer to refuse coverage or demand higher premiums.
  • Testing mostly happen in professions where the health and safety of others is a primary concern, such as pilots and heavy equipment operators.
  • With recreational marijuana becoming legal in more states, consumers must be aware of local laws regarding testing.

Drug Testing: Group Versus Individual Policy

In most cases, those joining a group policy through an employer aren't tested for drugs. Drug tests are the employers' prerogative. Testing mostly happen with medical professionals, judges, military personnel, airline pilots, and heavy machinery operators, jobs where the health and safety of others is a primary concern.

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.

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.

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.

More states are legalizing marijuana for recreational use, while it remains illegal at the federal level. Be sure to read up on your local laws with respect to recreational use and testing.

Why might an insurance company test a policy buyer for drugs?

Insurance companies are in the business of managing risk, and those who use drugs, even recreationally, tend to be higher risks for illness and disease than those who don't use. Managing risk and keeping it low means insurers can better manage their payouts.

What happens if a person fails a drug test administered by an insurance company?

Failing a drug test might mean loss of employment, loss of the policy, or raising of insurance premiums. There are usually no legal ramifications.

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.

Article Sources

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  1. Texas.gov. "Drug Testing in the Workplace." Accessed Sept. 30, 2021.

  2. MarcanInsurance.com. "What Exactly Does the Life Insurance Drug Test Look For?" Accessed Sept. 30, 2021.

  3. Paycor.com. "Pre-employment drug testing by state." Accessed Sept. 30, 2021.