Cannabis legalization and your insurance: What you need to know

On October 17, 2018, the Government of Canada legalized and regulated access to cannabis.

This legislation will:

  • Allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of legally-produced cannabis
  • Allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household
  • Set the minimum age for purchase and use at 18 years of age, with the option for provinces to increase the age limit
  • Enable a regulatory regime for the licensed production of cannabis, which would be controlled by the federal government
  • Enable a regulatory regime for the distribution and sale of cannabis, which would be controlled by the provincial government
  • Establish new provisions to address drug-impaired driving, as well as making several changes to the overall legal framework to address alcohol impaired driving

Should you choose to use cannabis on a recreational or medical basis, here are some important things you need to be aware of with regards to your insurance.

Car Insurance and Cannabis

In June of 2018, Alberta’s alcohol and drug impaired driving offences came into effect to align with new federal drug laws.

With the legalization of marijuana, cannabis use is being looked at the same way as alcohol use when it comes to getting behind the wheel. While legal, if you are driving under the influence of marijuana and are over the legal limit, even if it is intended for medicinal purposes, it will affect your insurance the same way an alcohol conviction would.

Whether it is from alcohol or illegal drugs, a DUI is a criminal code conviction that will stay on your record for five years from the date of conviction. You will also automatically have your license suspended. These things combined can affect the rates you pay for car insurance for several years. During the first three years, you are considered high risk and will be charged an extra free on top of your premiums. The next two years you are eligible to be placed in a regular insurance market but will also be charged an extra fee for a higher risk as well.

The hike in your rates comes as a direct result from insurance companies seeing you as a greater risk based on statistics and actuarial data.

According to data from Intact Insurance, drivers with a DUI conviction are 30-40% more likely to be involved in an accident. Data from MADD Canada says 30% of drivers with a DUI; get another DUI within 10 years.

Lastly, should you cause an accident while driving under the influence, you forfeit the right to claim for any damages and injuries to a third party.


Legal Limits

Under the new drug-impaired driving offences, the maximum amount of THC blood concentration level a driver can have is 2 nanograms (ng) per millilitre (ml).

Note:  Drivers under that Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program that are found to have any amount of cannabis or illegal drugs in their blood are now subject to the same provincial sanctions that apply to alcohol. These include:

  • immediate 30-day license suspension
  • immediate 7-day vehicle seizure
  • must remain in GDL program for 2 years and have no suspensions in the last year to graduate from the program

For more information regarding the impaired driving law changes in Alberta, click here.


Cannabis and home insurance

When it comes to having medicinal cannabis, marijuana plants, or cannabis accouterments in your home, depending on which company your insurance is with, you will be provided coverage under the contents section of your home, condo and tenants insurance policy.

For more information on the legal amounts of cannabis possession under the new legislation, click here.

The above mentioned items related to cannabis can sometimes fall under what is called a special limit. A special limit on your insurance policy is essentially a limitation within the wording of your coverage that outlines the maximum that would be paid out for certain items in the event of a claim.

Please contact your Sharp Insurance broker to discuss special limits on your policy as every insurance company is different.

At Sharp, we understand the insurance can be complicated and confusion. As always, feel free to contact your Sharp Insurance broker with regards to any questions or concerns you may have with regards to the legalization of cannabis and your insurance.

Calgary and area heavy snowfall: Claims Information

If you were affected by the recent heavy snowfall in Calgary and the surrounding areas and need to begin a home or car insurance claim, please contact your insurance company directly.

You can also start the claims process right from the MySharp app or portal.

Intact Insurance:

  • 24-hour emergency claims number: 1-866-464-2424
  • You can also submit non-urgent claims online:
    To submit a personal insurance claim click here
    To submit a business insurance claim click here

Aviva:

  • 24-hour emergency claims number: 1-866-MYAVIVA (1866-692-8482)
  • To submit a home or auto claim online click here

RSA:

  • 24-hour emergency claims number: 1-800-319-9993

Economical Insurance:

  • 24-hour emergency claims number: 1-800-607-2424

Wawanesa Insurance:
• 24-hour emergency claims number: 1-844-929-2637

 

10 ways to save money on your car insurance – guaranteed!

Let’s face it, we’re always looking for ways to have a little extra cash in our pocket. At Sharp, we’re committed to finding the insurance policy that works for you, at the best price. Why pay more for the same coverage, when you can pay less?

Here are our top 10, nearly foolproof, ways you can save on your car insurance.

  1. Bring your policy to Sharp and save 5% – guaranteed*

If we told you we could guarantee you cheaper insurance rates for the same level of coverage, what would you say? On your next renewal, bring your insurance needs to Sharp and we will beat any new customer’s insurance premium by 5% – that’s the Sharp Guarantee. *Eligible policies must be with Intact, Aviva, RSA or additional participating markets. Get a free, no obligation quote today.

  1. Bundle and save up to 20%

Insurance can sometimes be complicated, so why not simplify it and save money at the same time? By bundling multiple policies, like your home and car insurance, you pay only one premium, have one renewal date and in the event of a loss involving both your car and your home you only pay one deductible. Start your multi-product insurance quote here.

  1. Enroll in Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) aka Telematics

When it comes to the data on your phone or your lunch at the salad bar, you’re only paying for what you use. You can get that same benefit with your car insurance by enrolling in a usage-based insurance (UBI) or telematics program through participating insurance companies. This can save you up to 10% in the first year.

What is UBI or telematics?

Did you know your car is built for a device that can track and transmit information about your driving skills such as hard braking, speed, distance and the times of day you travel most?   A small removable device that gathers data, can be installed in your vehicle to rate your insurance premium based on your driving skills rather than demographic generalizations. Inevitably, having this device track your good and bad driving habits will prompt you to be more aware on the road which will help increase safety precautions for you and others on the road. If you think you’re a fantastic driver, then this device could mean big savings for you. Additionally, should you make some not great driving choices, your premium cannot be increased. 

  1. Raise your deductible

Deductible – [dih-duhk-tuh-buh l]. $250, $500, $1,000 – no matter the amount, your deductible is the amount you are responsible for paying before your insurance coverage kicks in to pay for the remainder of the damage in the event of a claim. You can save money on your insurance by increasing your deductible amount. While this could save you money in the long-term, it’s important to be aware that you will be responsible for paying a higher amount towards claim costs and be financially prepared.

BONUS TIP: Consider saving your deductible amount in a high-interest e-savings account. Then you’ll have it on-hand should you need it, and you will be earning interest on it as well.

  1. Pay your premium annually

Many of us pay our insurance premiums monthly. However, some insurance companies – including several we work with – will offer discounts if you pay your premium up front. You could save up to 4% by paying your premium annually. Talk to your Sharp Insurance broker to determine if this is right for you.

  1. Enroll in driver’s education

From an insurance perspective, young or inexperienced drivers (less than 3 years’ experience) are more at risk of filing a claim- that is why their insurance costs are generally higher. By enrolling in driver training, you’re gaining experience that helps you become a better and safer driver – lowering the likelihood of having a claim – and ultimately lowering your premiums as well.

  1. Install an anti-theft device

According to Statistics Canada, Alberta leads the country in vehicle thefts, with almost 23,000 vehicles stolen every year. That works out to roughly 60 vehicles per day.

 

Some insurance companies will provide discounts on your car insurance when you provide proof of installation. Furthermore, in the event your vehicle is stolen, the fact that you have an anti-theft device installed may result in your insurance company offering you a reduced deductible.

The three types of anti-theft devices on the market include:

  • Passive: an anti-theft system that automatically protects your vehicle. They are often built into your car and arm themselves when the vehicle is turned off, the key is removed and the door is shut.
  • Active: an anti-theft system that you need to enable to work. These include things like a steering wheel Club® or a car alarm that needs to be manually armed.
  • Auto immobilizers: one of the most effective types of anti-theft device for your vehicle. They prevent the car from being started unless a specifically coded key is used.

Not all anti-theft devices are eligible for insurance discounts. Before you install anything in your vehicle, speak to your Sharp Insurance broker.

  1. Practice safe driving

As of September 1, 2011, distracted driving became illegal in Alberta. In 2017 in Edmonton alone, police issued over 7,400 distracted driving tickets. That’s an average of 20 tickets per day. Across Alberta in 2017, there were over 24,000 distracted driving convictions, according to data from the provincial government.

Insurance companies take into account the number and type of traffic violations as well as the number of at fault collisions when determining your insurance premium. By keeping your eyes on the road, following traffic laws and going the speed limit, your likelihood of getting into a collision reduces significantly, and you may just be rewarded with insurance discounts.

  1. Group and Professional discounts

If your employer or professional association is a member of Sharp’s Group Home and Auto Insurance program you’ll benefit from exclusive discounts on insurance, 24-7 insurance access and service, 24-7 claims support and payment flexibility. Learn more about our group insurance program and how to register your organization here.

  1. Talk to a Sharp Insurance broker

Insurance can be confusing and complicated. Let us do the work for you! Whether you need to insure a single vehicle, or the whole family fleet, we’re ready to help you find the coverage to protect your ride.

Our team of experts will find you customizable coverage with a policy that fits your needs. We partner with the top insurance companies in Canada to provide you with excellent options at the best value.

A quote from Sharp Insurance is always fast and free. What are you waiting for? Start your wicked fast insurance quote today.