Cannabis and your auto insurance

The law making cannabis legal in Canada is into force since October 2018. This is a big change: a substance that was criminalized is now entirely legal. But how does this affect your driving habits and your auto insurance?

Impaired driving = impaired by any substance

Impaired driving is dangerous, whether you are impaired by alcohol or any kind of drug. Québec’s Highway Safety Code already states that you must not drive when impaired by alcohol, drugs, or medication.

For alcohol, a blood concentration of 0.08 is tolerated; for cannabis, under federal law, the blood concentration of THC will be measured. Between 2 and 5 nanograms will lead to a fine; a concentration higher than 5 nanograms could lead to a criminal charge. If combined, lower levels of alcohol (0.05) and cannabis (2.5 nanograms) will also be viewed as an offence.

Keep in mind that some provinces have zero tolerance for impaired ability in the case of young drivers, new drivers, or drivers of commercial vehicles.

Accident coverage: nothing new

In Québec auto insurance contracts, there is no exclusion clause related to drugs or alcohol. Even if you are impaired when your vehicle is damaged, your insurance provider is still required to pay you compensation as specified in your policy. This also applies to damage caused to others who are covered under your liability insurance.

Impact on premiums

At this point, it is difficult to say whether the legalization of cannabis will have an impact on the cost of insurance. There is no way of predicting how each insurance company will choose to handle this new risk.

However, studies clearly demonstrate that despite what some people believe, cannabis does impair our ability to drive – it affects our judgement, motor coordination, and reaction time. The fact of legalizing cannabis might normalize it, leading to greater consumption, and thus to a greater risk of accidents because of impaired driving.

Also, as is already the case for demerit points caused by impaired driving, any cannabis-related offence might complicate your access to auto insurance and make your premium go up.

What about your home insurance? Find out in our other article:
Cannabis and Your Home Insurance


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