In 2018, the new law allowing the use of cannabis in Canada came into effect. Now, a few years later, we are in a better position to assess the impact of this legalization on Canadians’ daily lives. According to a study conducted and published by Statistics Canada in February 2020, no significant change in the rate of consumption was observed. That’s good news.

Nevertheless, 1.2 million Canadians reported having been in a vehicle where the driver had used cannabis in the two hours before they got behind the wheel. This act is punishable under Section 320.14 of the Criminal Code:

Driving while impaired

So, this week, Assurances Multi-Risques is bringing you an article about the impact of cannabis legalization on your driving habits and your car insurance. Why? Because it is important to be well informed about this and, above all, because driving while impaired (alcohol or drugs) can be dangerous. Read the next section carefully!

What impact does the legalization of cannabis have on car insurance premiums in Canada?

As reported in a March 2020 article in Economical, legalization is still fairly new in Canada. Many variables remain unknown about the impact of cannabis use and cultivation on Canadians and their insurance coverage.

Even today, it is difficult to accurately analyze and discuss the impact of marijuana legalization on the overall cost of car insurance premiums in Canada.

But we can definitely say that the possession and use of cannabis is an additional risk for insurance companies, and that driving under the influence of cannabis is a violation of the cannabis laws that can result in legal charges and a denial of insurance claims, cancellation of your policy and/or an increase in your premiums.

Consequences of impaired driving due to cannabis (or other drugs or alcohol)

For a first offence, you will be fined $1000, and your driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of one year. Your car insurance premium will go up, and when you can drive again, you can expect to pay a hefty premium for insurance (provided your current insurer agrees to cover you!). There is a good chance that you will no longer be able to get insurance through a “standard” insurer.

For a second offence, you will be sentenced to 30 days in prison. You will have your driver’s license revoked for a minimum period of two years, and as for your insurance, you will have to be covered by an insurer that accepts “non-standard” risks. No regular insurer will cover a case like this!

A third offence (or more) guarantees that you will have your license revoked for at least three years and 30 days in jail (plus 120 days in jail for each additional offence, for example: 2 offences = 30 days in jail, 3 offences = 150 days in jail, etc.). It’s something to keep in mind! And you can rest assured that your insurance bill will be high.

Final thoughts

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to avoid insurance problems is to obey the law. If necessary, you are entitled to a second chance, and at Assurances Multi-Risques, we make it a point of honour to find a good insurer for each of our clients, whether they have a criminal record or not.

Always tell your insurance broker the truth about this, because it’s much more important than you think!