So marijuana is going to be legal – but what if your clients want to drive while high?

Legalization is going to present plenty of challenges for insurance brokers

So marijuana is going to be legal – but what if your clients want to drive while high?

Insurance News

By Will Koblensky

In just over a year, Trudeau’s Liberal government will have transformed Canada into a legal home for marijuana – but even once the legality milestone has been passed plenty of challenges will remain for insurers.

Among those is the idea of Canadians getting behind the wheel after marijuana use. It’s in this context that State Farm released its online survey on Tuesday, finding 10% of respondents admitted to driving high, and out of those drivers half said they didn’t believe marijuana impeded their driving.

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The views of those drivers, however, contrasts with the 80% of people concerned about drivers who have been smoking pot, according to the State Farm survey. State Farm’s media relations spokesperson, John Bordignon said whether or not recreational marijuana legalization increases the risk exposure of insuring driving is “yet to be determined”. However, he believes brokers should keep their eye on the shifting sands of regulatory frameworks.

“We know that insurance is provincially regulated, so are you going to be allowed to purchase and use pot legally in Ontario when you’re 18? In Alberta when you’re 21?” he asked. “That changes the way things are looked at. Are there going to be different ways they determine how impaired you may be by marijuana?

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“That goes to individual ministries of transportation to make some determinations. Even though the announcement has been made (for legalization) there are still some details to be hashed out.”    

Whether or not marijuana users will end up paying higher auto premiums is also “yet to be determined”, Bordignon said, though he added it’s illegal to ask about drinking behaviours on an insurance form even though rates obviously jump following a DUI.

Lack of education is another point of contention for State Farm’s survey respondents, 83% of which said there isn’t enough information about the effects of driving high.

“The more education the public has, the more data that is available to everyone involved - the general public, insurance companies, the police, the courts - it could only serve us better,” Bordignon said.

“Obviously the more knowledge we have about what marijuana can do to individuals in terms of what they can take or how much they shouldn’t be taking, how it affects their judgement, especially when driving, would be beneficial.”

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