Car, home insurance rates after cannabis legalization still to be determined

BY LASIA KRETZEL AND SASHA LAKIC | News1130

Anyone thinking of growing marijuana plants in their home or lighting up once it’s legal next week, might want to look into their home or renters insurance and avoid getting behind the wheel.

Home insurance, will likely be on a case-by-case basis, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) because insurance companies generally use prior experience to assess rates, which is not possible while cannabis is still illegal.

“Insurance rates and premiums all are based on risk and experience, and we don’t know what that experience is going to be like once it’s legalized,” Vanessa Barrasa with IBC said. “It’s not like, ‘oh, cannabis is legal, the next day all your insurance and home rates grow.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

She says because this is uncharted territory, many providers are still figuring out their rates for cannabis.

“Every company is setting their own limits and so it’s really important that if you have a material change – you now have cannabis plants, before you didn’t – that is something that you should inform your insurance company of and make sure, obviously, that you’re being truthful and honest,” she said.

Right now, home insurance in Canada does not cover any loss if the property is used for cannabis activities, so she says each company is developing its own policy.

When it comes to renters, she recommends always having tenant insurance, so that belongings are covered if something happens at home. She adds that in any case, people should abide by the legal limits of owning plants and to inform themselves about how their insurance provider will address owning cannabis once it’s legal.

“That would be specific to your tenant or home insurance policy and it’s important that you speak to your insurance to make sure that they’re aware of your contents and you know what your limits are,” Barrasa said.

Car insurance could go up if you’re caught stoned

More expensive car insurance could be in the future of those caught high behind the wheel in B.C.

Driving under the influence of pot is still considered impaired driving, despite the statistic from BCAA that 20 per cent of millennials think they drive the same or even better when high.

It could immediately land you with a driving suspension, which lawyer Kyla Lee says ICBC will take into account when new rates go into effect next September.

“Everybody needs to be very careful when it comes to using cannabis while driving and using cannabis and then driving after the fact because it can have consequences that right now you don’t know that you’re going to be getting,” Lee said.

Drivers can already face additional fines and driver risk premiums if caught driving under the influence.

Road side tests still remain mandatory if an officer asks you to perform one. Refusing to take the test is a criminal offence and could land you with a big penalty.

Cannabis legalization happens on Oct. 17.

Source: News1130

Alberta premier says farm bill is about dignity, basic rights; stands firm

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley moved December 3, 2015 to quell a maelstrom of discontent over her farm safety bill by saying it’s foremost about safety and dignity.

“I will never be able to accept the fact that injuries and deaths caused by workplace accidents (on the farm) are simply a fact of life,” Notley said at a media availability.

“I could not _ and cannot in good conscience _ and will not ignore the lessons of their losses.

“We will pass this bill this fall. Those wage-earning farm workers will receive compensation (if injured) and will have the right to refuse unsafe work.”

Notley added that the government will talk to farmers in the coming months about how to “tweak the other newly applied rules in a way that respects the family farm, just as has been done in every other province in the country.”

Notley once worked as a Workers’ Compensation Board injury claims lawyer and, in response to a question, agreed that the farm safety bill has special meaning for her.

“It is a little bit personal.”

She said she has long been disturbed that in a province built on the ethos of people helping people, “we somehow have this little exclusion, where paid farm workers, who are often the most vulnerable workers we have, are somehow exempted from the most basic of employment protections.”

It was Notley’s first day back at the legislature following a trip to Paris for the UN-sponsored climate change summit.

There have been several protests and demonstrations by farm groups over the proposed farm legislation. The bill calls for injury compensation benefits and occupational health and safety rules for 60,000 farm workers across Alberta. It also introduces workplace standards on commercial aspects of farming as well as the right for workers to bargain collectively.

Farmers, and opposition leaders, have argued the bill is trying to do too much too fast, threatens the viability of family farms and could rip the cultural fabric of rural life.

They are asking Notley to pull it pending further consultation.

Earlier on December 3, 2015 more than 1,000 protesters rallied on the steps of the legislature as a singer mocked Notley to the tune of the popular children’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”

“Now a Bill 6 here and a carbon tax there. Here a tax, there a tax. Everywhere a tax, tax. Naughty Notley runs the show,” sang protester Becky Hull.

The crowd then shouted: “E-I-E-I-O!”

Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean promised the crowd he will stand with them.

“We want a premier and government that No. 1 represents the people and does what they want _because they’re the boss!” Jean said to cheers.

In Lethbridge, hundreds of farmers arrived on tractors, in trucks and aboard big rigs to express their concerns to Labour Minister Lori Sigurdson and Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier at a public consultation meeting.

Alan Kormos, a Cardston area farmer who organized the convoy, says he doesn’t approve of mandatory Workers Compensation Coverage for paid farm employees.

“I disagree with that, because I carry insurance. If they want to impose workers comp on us, let it be an option,” Kormos said.

The bill remains in the middle of the second stage of debate in the house. The government has sat late into the night in recent days to discuss it.

The government plans to introduce an amendment as early as next week to make it clear the bill is not intended to cover children who help out on family farms or neighbours who volunteer to pitch in when things get busy.

 

Insurance will help farmers ‘replant and get back in business,’ N.S. agriculture minister says

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