Canadian Underwriter

How the Feds’ pot plan could trigger home insurance claims

January 7, 2018   by David Gambrill

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Canadian insurance claims professionals see social host liability issues at play when the federal government’s Cannabis Act comes into force.

“If somebody goes to a home where cannabis is available because the homeowner is able to grow four plants, and the driver leaves the home impaired, that becomes a social host issue,” says CIAA president Monica Kuzyk. “It’s the whole alcohol issue, but it’s cannabis, and it’s more complex.”

The Government of Canada is planning to bring its Cannabis Act into force by no later than July 2018. The government’s stated goal is to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis to keep it “out of the hands of Canadian youth, and to prevent organized crime from continuing to profit from the illegal cannabis market.”

The Government of Canada website notes that Canadians continue to use cannabis “at some of the highest rates in the world.” In 2015, 21% of youth and 30% of young adults reported using cannabis within the last year,” the government’s backgrounder reads.

In a Q&A posted on the Government website, one question asks: Is the Government not concerned that cannabis produced at home would be more easily obtained by Canadian youth?

To which the government responds: “Small amounts of cannabis for personal use can be safely and responsibly cultivated by adults. Adults will want to take suitable precautions to protect children and young persons living in their home as they do now in storing prescription medicine, alcohol or other potentially harmful substances.”

But recreational use of marijuana in the home may trigger the liability coverage in home insurance policies, adjusters note. They foresee the same social host issues that arise when Canadians serve alcohol at home.

For example, if a person is stoned when leaving a house party where marijuana was served, and subsequently gets involved in a car crash, what is the host’s responsibility for getting them stoned in the first place? Adjusters will need to do “a very comprehensive investigation when they believe there is a social host issue at play,” Kuzyk says.

Potential questions for adjusters to ask include:

  • Why was the claimant at the home?
  • What was the homeowner doing when the claimant was in the home?
  • Was there a party going on?
  • Did the homeowner make cannabis available to guests?
  • What was the consumption level at that point?
  • Did the claimant bring their own cannabis, or did they smoke the homeowners’?

Some of what Canadian adjusters know about claims involving the recreational use of cannabis is based partly on networking with adjusters’ associations in the United States, where marijuana is legalized to a certain degree in some states. The non-medical use of cannabis is legal in eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and decriminalized in another 14 states (plus the U.S. Virgin Islands).

Anecdotal evidence from Colorado shows several situations in which people are unknowingly consuming products containing cannabis. An elderly woman, for example, had a hash brownie offered by a beauty salon. She went to the hospital thinking she was suffering from a stroke, only to have her emergency room doctor inform her that she was high. The woman took the beauty parlour to small claims court.

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5 Comments » for How the Feds’ pot plan could trigger home insurance claims
  1. Malcolm Kyle says:

    This is one of the weakest anti-cannabis articles I’ve ever come across.

  2. Robert says:

    There is booze in people’s houses right now and it is far more dangerous than cannabis and t plants are not going to cause mold in people’s houses also not true 4 cannabis plants are no different than some bodies house that is full of ornamental plant’s some of which are deadly if eaten, eating cannabis in its raw unheated form is harmless.
    This sounds like the insurance using scare tactics so they can charge higher premiums they want their piece of the action just like the greedy government and licensed producers.

  3. Chris says:

    So… traditionally adjusters currently don’t do a comprehensive investigation on claims?? This is why we pay premiums in the first place for high quality service which includes safety and protection to receive a very comprehensive investigation!

    “Adjusters will need to do “a very comprehensive investigation when they believe there is a social host issue at play,” Kuzyn says.”

  4. Moe Brondum says:

    No real information in this article. Why is the focus on 4 plant home grows? Won’t people be able to go to the store and stock up for the same party? Does buying from a govt store ensure children won’t gain access once transported home?

    And, what about the CIAA presidents comments…why is it more complex?

    This article is just weak and uniformative.

  5. Micheal says:

    These political pawns are only interested in criminalization to increase their policing budget, their interest is showing with their lack of knowledge which is to the extreme, Impaired driving, joke, to bad their reading abilities are little or they would have studied the 20 or so studies done in the USA and in Canada that there is little to know difference in the ability to drive between a stoned or a sober driver, and some even suggest that because a stoned driver knows hes stoned, they will slow down and focus more on the road, making them a safer driver. Its also to bad that media doesn’t challenge politicians and police on correct and informative information, and ask the hard questions to show the public how uninformed our politicians really are so that come time to elections we don’t elect stupidity and corruption. It Turns Out That Smoking Marijuana May Actually Make You A Safer Driver;

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