Alberta insurers urged to check policy wording ahead of cannabis legalization

Published: November 21, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



With recreational cannabis legalization expected in Canada during 2018, an Alberta-based insurance defence lawyer wants industry companies to re-check their policy wordings ahead of the province’s sanctions to deal with legalization.

Alberta has new sanctions in place for cannabis-impaired and cannabis/alcohol-impaired driving offences.

“At this stage, the most immediate impact of the new legislation on property and casualty (p&c) insurance professionals will be in the need to conduct an immediate review of all policy wording in order to ensure that their insurance products appropriately cover the risk and claims that will come with the changes in the legislation,” Jennifer Huneault, a partner with Hughes Amys LLP, explained to Canadian Underwriter.

Changes to the Traffic Safety Act due to enter legislation in 2018 will be impactful, Huneault points out, and could change home insurance personal lined and auto insurance lines.

“Thorough review of policy wording now, and undertaking an analysis of the potential impact of marijuana legalization on available coverage, will better position the industry to be able to respond to claims that may arise post July 1, 2018,” she said. “A base understanding of marijuana production, strains, forms and chemical composition will go a long way towards being prepared to adjust claims in the property and casualty contexts.”

“There is already considerable discussion in the legal community about whether there is a ‘one size fits all’ test for determining impairment as different chemicals and strains of marijuana, not to mention their method of ingestion, can yield a variance in results,” Huneault said. “I think we can expect there to be many initial challenges to impaired charges on the basis of the accuracy of testing.”