Since recreational cannabis use was legalized in Canada in October 2018, a lot of questions have popped up about how using or growing marijuana could affect people’s insurance coverage. Here are five things you should know before you light up:
- Breaking your local laws could result in a denied claim, cancelled coverage, or an increase in your premium. While recreational cannabis use has been legalized across the country, specific laws around possession limits, legal age, where cannabis can be sold and used, and how much cannabis you can grow at home vary by province. Not only could breaking cannabis laws result in charges from police, but like breaking any other law, it could result in a denied insurance claim, cancellation of your coverage, or increased premiums. Whether you’re at home or travelling out of the province, always be aware of the local laws.
- Your home or tenant insurance policy could cover your plants and paraphernalia. Now that cannabis use is legal in Canada, you might have some new things around your home that you’ll want to protect in the event of an emergency. The good news is your home insurance policy could cover your legally-allowed plants and paraphernalia — but like other specialty belongings, this coverage will probably be subject to special limits set out by your insurer.
- Driving under the influence of marijuana will be taken as seriously as driving under the influence of alcohol. Just like with alcohol, there are laws that spell out the legal limit for how much marijuana can be in your system while driving, depending on your age, the class of your driver’s licence, and other factors. A conviction for driving under the influence could result in your car insurance policy being cancelled or, at the very least, a significant increase in your premium. You should also know that if you’re involved in a collision that results in a DUI conviction, your claim may be denied, meaning you’ll be on the hook for repairs and other costs.
- Modifying your home or installing new appliances to help your plants grow could increase your risk of experiencing a fire or other damage — and your insurance company has the right to cancel your coverage or deny a claim as a result. As with any major change you make to your home, it’s a good idea to let your insurance broker know so they can make sure you have the right coverage and inform you about possible issues. If you’re planning on growing your own plants, you may be better off going au natural and skipping new equipment that could affect your eligibility for insurance.
- If you’re throwing a party and share legal cannabis with your guests, your responsibilities are the same as if you were serving alcohol. Accidents happen, and you could have a lawsuit on your hands if someone injures themselves or has an unexpected reaction to cannabis, which could lead to a liability claim. You could also be held legally responsible if someone drives away from your party under the influence and gets into a collision. Just like with alcohol, you should do your best to make sure your guests enjoy themselves responsibly and don’t drive under the influence of marijuana.
Legalization is still relatively new in Canada, so there are still a lot of unknowns about how using and growing cannabis will affect Canadians — and their insurance coverage. But if you have any questions about how it may affect your own coverage, you can reach out to your licensed insurance broker.
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