Anyone in the Cowichan Valley, and across Canada, who is legally growing medical marijuana in their homes should check their house insurance policy to see if they are covered in the event of an emergency.
Isaac Greenwood is an account executive with the medical marijuana insurance program with Duncan B.C.’s LMG Insurance Brokers Ltd.
He said, even though it’s perfectly legal for licensed marijuana growers to grow pot for medical purposes, it’s a fact that most home insurance policies have a clause that states that the insurance company won’t cover damage to homes that have marijuana-growing operations in them, even if the grow-op was not the cause of the damage.
In fact, Greenwood said having marijuana growing anywhere on a property is enough for any standard insurer to deny coverage or terminate a home insurance policy, even if growers just have one or two pot plants growing in their tool shed at the back of their property.
“Some insurance companies are uncomfortable with this industry, mainly because they don’t understand it,” Greenwood said.
“The most important thing is that for people who are legally growing at home to know that it’s OK to reach out and talk to your insurance company about this and get the information they need.”
Greenwood said that in most cases, growers who find themselves caught out with their insurance when tragedy strikes fall into four basic categories.
He said they’re either unaware of their contractual obligation to notify their insurer of their legal grow-op, they don’t understand that their home insurance policy is voided by growing marijuana, they think the insurance companies will cancel them or hike their rate to levels where they can’t afford the insurance, or they think that if something does happen while they withhold material information, they’ll just take the insurance company to court and sue them.
“If even 80 per cent of the approximately 200,000 people in Canada who are currently licensed to grow do grow their own cannabis at home, it’s terrifying to think of how many people simply do not have current information, are misinformed or are sincerely unaware of the reality that should something happen, they will be left without insurance at the time they needed it, and are risking absolutely everything,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood said that while getting the right house insurance to properly insure homes with licensed medical marijuana operations may be more expensive, it will likely grow cheaper as more growers sign up for the insurance.
He said it’s still unknown how the insurance industry will react after July 1, when marijuana is scheduled to be legalized in Canada and people will be allowed to grow up to four pot plants per household for recreational use.
“We’ll see what shakes out, but there is no mechanism in play right now and a number of the insurance companies are terrified,” he said.