BUSINESS
09/05/2018 14:03 EDT | Updated 10/12/2018 01:22 EDT

Marijuana Insurance Rules Unclear For Most Canadians: Survey

Homeowners, renters, and drivers are all hazy on the rules.

Most renters and homeowners aren't planning on growing cannabis at home when it becomes legal to do so in Canada.
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Most renters and homeowners aren't planning on growing cannabis at home when it becomes legal to do so in Canada.

If you grow pot in your rented apartment and it damages the property, whose insurance will cover the damage?

That's a question that both tenants and landlords alike don't know how to answer, according to a new survey from rate comparison site Ratehub.ca.

Matt Hands, Ratehub's senior business unit manager for insurance, told HuffPost Canada that insurance providers don't have a lot of historical data about pot growing and smoking-related damages to accurately calculate the risk factors involved.

"But where I think they're failing is ... to be open with the public about that and even give their initial feelings on how it is," he said.

Most homeowners (78.76 per cent) and renters (59.44 per cent) don't believe their homeowner's or renter's insurance would cover cannabis growing-related damages.

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The survey also showed a lack of clarity around pot rules for drivers and auto insurance.

Canadians are also split on whether legalization will cause home and insurance premiums to rise. A third believe it will, another 27 per cent say they don't think so, and 40 per cent say they don't know.

Hands said that while everyone in the industry may have their opinions on where policies will go after legalization, insurance providers aren't taking the onus to educate Canadians.

"That's where that uneasiness and that unknowingness is coming from the survey respondents we're talking to, so that's the general consensus we're getting — they just wish their insurance providers would be a bit more forthcoming with them with what's going on."

Renters, landlords split on right to consume

Just over a quarter of renters (28 per cent) believe Canadians should have the right to smoke and grow cannabis within their rental units, even if their landlord or building manager forbids it in their lease. But the survey showed opinions were split across generations, with exactly half of baby boomers (ages 55 and older) saying they shouldn't be allowed, whereas only 30 per cent of Gen Xers (ages 35-54) and 32.13 per cent of millennials (ages 18-24) saying the same.

However, 38 per cent of renters said they don't know whether they will have the right to after recreational pot is legalized. More than half (58 per cent) said they don't know whether they automatically have the right to grow cannabis in their apartments.

More than three in five (62 per cent) landlords don't think tenants should be allowed to smoke inside, and about the same number (59 per cent) plan to put restrictions on smoking pot inside. Another 51 per cent of landlords plan to restrict pot-growing entirely.

Still, most renters and homeowners aren't planning on growing cannabis at home when recreational marijuana becomes legal. Four in five homeowners (80.24 per cent) and 71.93 per cent of renters say it's not on their radar.

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The survey also showed a lack of clarity around pot rules for drivers and auto insurance. Almost three-quarters of Canadians (74.36 per cent) believe driving high should be penalized in the same way as driving drunk, but almost as many (69.58 per cent) don't know if driving while high on cannabis will affect their premiums.

Hands said it's important for insurance providers to provide more transparency to Canadians to help them to make smarter financial decisions.

"This is a big change in the market right now, it's something that everyone's kind of really interested in, and like we said, there's a lot of unknowingness, so just having insurance providers take a step forward and just being transparent on what they feel is going to happen, will go a long way."

The survey of more than 1,200 Canadians was conducted online by Ratehub.ca during July and August 2018. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3 per cent at 95 per cent confidence.