Canadian Underwriter

Top 3 marijuana claims your clients will likely make

October 19, 2018  

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Auto, commercial and workplace-related losses seem likely to be the Top 3 claims arising from the legalization of marijuana, according to claims adjuster Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc.

Auto losses related to cannabis usage; commercial losses to cannabis producers, retailers and distributors; and employee risk in the form of workplace health and safety, as well as workers’ compensation (occupational) and/or disability (non-occupational) losses, are the most likely risks Crawford Canada anticipates, said president and CEO Pat Van Bakel.

“With increased means of accessing cannabis, there may be increased risk of impaired driving,” he said Wednesday.

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, the percentage of Canadian drivers killed in vehicle crashes who test positive for drugs (40%) now exceeds the number who test positive for alcohol (33%).

Now that a whole new legal industry has opened up for business in Canada, there might also be a spike in commercial claims, said Paul Hancock, Crawford’s vice president of Global Technical Services (GTS) Canada.

“Organizations that legally grow, process, package and sell cannabis plants and cannabis products can be subject to risk and losses associated with their business, such as damage to or theft of property, including living plants, materials and finished products,” Hancock said. Other risks and losses include breakdown of specialized equipment, supply chain losses, business interruption or product liability, “similar to any other type of business, although the nature of their losses may be slightly more unique.”

The third type of risk that may arise from marijuana legalization is occupational and non-occupational claims whereby cannabis use was a contributing factor or is being used for treatment purposes.

When managing cannabis use in the workplace, employers are placed in an interesting position, said Crawford Canada’s director of operations for Human Risk Services, Anthony Magagna. On one hand, they have an obligation to accommodate individuals who use cannabis for medical reasons, but also have a duty under provincially regulated OH&S legislation to provide a safe work environment and to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of employees and others in the workplace.

“Their latter duty also applies to managing and protecting against ‘recreational’ users in the workplace,” Magagna said.

It is vital for employers to develop clear policies about what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of cannabis use and the workplace, and to ensure due diligence in enforcement of those policies. “Managing employees who are on leave or those returning to work in some capacity as a result of an occupational or non-occupational related illness or injury can be tricky in and of itself without cannabis usage having been a contributing factor to either or to be used in the treatment of either,” Magagna said.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.

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