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.

10 Foolproof Tips To Save On Home Insurance

Whether you’re an established home buyer or you’re looking to enter the real estate market for the first time, leaving some room in your budget for home insurance is key.

The good news is, our insurance experts have compiled 10 ways that can help you save on your home insurance. Check out the list below, then contact your Sharp Insurance broker to see if you can take advantage of one (or all) of these discounts.

  1. Bundle and Save

Insurance companies want your business, and they want you to consolidate all of your insurance needs in one place, on one policy. The good news is that by bundling your home, tenants or condo insurance with your other insurance needs like your car insurance, you could save up to 20%.

As an added benefit, your insurance becomes simplified with one premium, one renewal date, and in the event of an incident involving your home and car, you only pay one deductible.

  1. Guaranteed 5%

There is lots of choice when it comes to direct writers and insurance brokers in the market today. That’s why at Sharp, we guarantee we can save you money on your insurance. On your next renewal, bring your policy to Sharp and we will beat your current premium price by up to 5% – guaranteed. Some conditions apply. Policy must be within participating markets. To learn more or get a quote, contact us today.

  1. Purchase a newer home or condo

Newer homes, that are roughly ten years or younger, are more likely to have updated roofs, electrical and plumbing – making them less likely to have a claim. Many also come with sprinkler systems or water damage prevention devices. If you’re in a newer property, ask your Sharp Insurance broker if you are eligible for discounts.

  1. Location, location, location!

Another thing insurance companies will look at when determining your premium is the location of your property. They will often ask how many meters or kms to the nearest fire station or fire hydrant. Being near emergency services is more likely to save you money on your home insurance. On the flip side, if you are looking at a property close to the river or areas that are prone to flooding, don’t anticipate saving any money on your premium, as you’re at a higher risk of making a water damage claim.

  1. Give your property a face lift

Whether you’re buying a new home or simply giving your current property some much needed renovations, it’s important to let your broker know. Certain renovations and upgrades can save you money on your home insurance. These include:

  • A new roof – insurance companies love rubber, slate or steel roofs and other more fire and weather resistant materials. They often will come with a discount due to the grade of building material.
  • Water sensors, sump pumps or backwater valves that help protect your property from water damage and can earn you valuable discounts.
  • New electrical – increasing the amp’s to your home
  • Heating – type of furnace or simply having it inspected and cleaned yearly
  • Plumbing systems – type of plumbing, having an automatic shut off.  Did you know you can connect your plumbing system to your monitored alarm to watch in case of an issue?
  1. Annual premiums

Many of the insurance companies we work with will offer discounts if you pay your premium annually in one lump sum, as opposed to paying your premium monthly. 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.

BONUS TIP: Some insurance companies will also offer a discount to homeowners that are mortgage free.

what does home insurance cover

  1. Safety first

By installing devices that protect your home, belongings and loved ones you are not only more prepared in the event of a break-in or fire, but you may qualify for savings on your home insurance.

Houses alarms, sprinkler systems, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are all great additions to help keep your home happy and safe. Talk to your Sharp Insurance broker about how they could help you save up to 20% on your premium.

  1. Improve your credit score

Your credit score measures your financial health. More than half of Canadian insurance companies utilize your credit score as a way of calculating the likelihood of you making a claim. If you have good credit, you could be rewarded with preferred pricing on your policy.

  1. Claims free is the way to be

If you have made several claims in the past it could show that there are underlying issues with your home, or that you live in an area more likely to result in a claim. The longer you maintain a claims free status, the less risk you present to the insurance company. Many insurance companies will offer discounts on your home insurance when you have been claims free for several years.

  1. Talk to a broker

At Sharp, we’re not like the other guys. Since we’re not owned by an insurance company you know that we are working to find the policy that meets your needs at a great price. Great coverage, a low price, unbiased advice – what more can you ask for? Talk to a Sharp Insurance broker and start your home insurance quote today.

BONUS TIP: By increasing your deductible you can save on your annual premium. Did you know that many companies will let you place a deductible on specific types of losses – like water or wind and hail.  You can choose to increase those deductibles to save money – great thing to do if you are in a higher risk area.