Collision claims rise in wake of pot legalization says HLDI

Published: June 23, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



There is evidence that marijuana legalization in Colorado, Oregon and Washington has impacted the auto insurance industry, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). The institute says claims frequencies have increased about 3% above their norm post legalization in the states.

The three US States are considered litmus test cases for pot legalization in Canada, which will be imminently introduced.

HLDI said in a statement on Thursday that it used control state to examine collision claims across Oregon, Colorado and Washington before and after the legalization. Other control states used in the study were Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, all used as a control for before legalization of marijuana.

Each state was also looked at individually for loss results and compared to neighbouring states within pot legalization. HLDI says collision claims are the most common claim type auto insurance companies deal with.

“The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes,” said Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI, in the statement. “The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state.”

“The combined effect for the three states was smaller but still significant at 3 per cent,” Moore said in the statement. “The combined analysis uses a bigger control group and is a good representation of the effect of marijuana legalization overall. The single-state analyses show how the effect differs by state.”

“Worry that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates isn’t misplaced,” said David Zuby, executive vice president and chief research officer of IIHS. “HLDI’s findings on the early experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington should give other states eyeing legalization pause.”

In January, reported on a Washington State study that showed legalizing marijuana leads to a direct increase in impaired driving offences.

The study found drug driving is as common and as dangerous as drunk driving. There are also times of the day when driving high is more prominent. The report, titled Most WA State Marijuana Driving Fatalities Occur while Speeding After Work: Nearly Equal Alcohol Fatalities, gives Canadian police a pointer to how drivers react when marijuana is legalized and how they can deal with increased impaired driving offences.