Since marijuana became legal in Canada, there have been questions raised on how it'll affect insurance policies. If you’re a renter who has tenant insurance, there are some things that could impact your policy if you choose to grow marijuana indoors or outdoors where you live. Many insures know that cannabis is now legal and have taken measures to include limits within their policies for the casual grower/user. One thing is for sure, insurers see growing marijuana out of your rental property or unit as a high-risk activity. If you’re a tenant looking to grow your own marijuana, here’s what you should know:
Your landlord and marijuana legalization
Under the current federal laws, you’re allowed to grow up to 4 plants per residence for personal use. Laws and regulations as to whether you can grow, how much, and where you can grow vary by province. Some provinces even ban personal growing altogether.
Your landlord can set rules to protect the health and safety of their residents and property. They can include a no-smoking and/or no-growing clause in your lease that includes marijuana. The rules that apply to you can be found in your lease/rental agreement or any rules the landlord makes for all tenants.
When it comes to new tenants:
- Rules can be set for new applicants that choose to follow them when signing the lease agreement.
- Your landlord can include rules banning all marijuana activity. This is the same as having rules about cigarettes, pets, etc.
When it comes to existing tenants:
- Changes can be made when your lease expires or renews.
- Your landlord needs to inform you of the upcoming change well before it’s time to sign the new agreement.
- On a month-to-month lease, your landlord must provide enough notice of the change.
Risks of growing marijuana in your unit
As mentioned before, growing marijuana comes with its own set of risks. The insurance industry warns that growing even a few plants inside isn't safe. These risks could be harmful to you or impact your insurance policy. The two main risks when growing marijuana indoors is fire and mold. Let’s look at them in more detail:
- Fire hazard – The lights needed to grow require lots of power and can get hot. It’s best to use self-standing, high-efficiency, low-power LED lights. Make sure your self-standing lights don’t come in contact with anything flammable like curtains, or carpet etc.
- Mould – The hot and humid climate needed for growing marijuana could help with the growth of mould. Mould can grow on or behind drywall, fixtures, tiling, etc. It can spread beyond a single unit and is expensive to remove. Mould losses are not fully covered by insurance.
Heads up! These risks can be greater when growing marijuana in a rental unit. They could end up also affecting other units near yours.
Insurance and marijuana
Many insurance companies will now provide some coverage related to growing marijuana for personal or medical use. But they don’t see it as being the same as growing any other indoor house plant. Talk to your insurer to find out what they allow.
There are some things you need to know when growing your own plants that could affect your policy:
- Coverage of plants and equipment. Your tenant insurance could help cover your plants and equipment. Now that marijuana use is legal, you may have some stuff that you’ll want to protect in the event of an emergency. Your policy could cover your legal plants and paraphernalia. Just like other specialty belongings, coverage will be subject to special limits set out by your insurer.
- Contacting your landlord and insurers. While it’s not required, it’s best to contact your landlord and each insurer to let them know the situation. Your landlord’s insurance may not protect the building against damages related to growing marijuana. If not, you could be held responsible for any damages caused.
- Modifications to your unit. Are you planning on installing equipment to grow marijuana plants? You should notify your insurance provider before you make any changes. This equipment comes with increased risk of fire and other damages. Your insurance company may not offer suitable coverage for any changes to help grow marijuana. If you claim any damages related to growing marijuana and you haven’t told your insurer, they could deny your claim and cancel your policy.
- Breaking marijuana laws. Be aware of local laws. There are specific laws around possession limits, legal age, where marijuana can be used, if you can grow and how much you can grow at home vary by province. If you break any of these, you could be charged by the police, your premiums could increase, your claims could be denied, and your policy could be canceled.
Heads up! Do you bundle your tenant and car insurance? There are legal limits for driving under the influence of marijuana. This could affect your rates or result in your car insurance policy being cancelled.
Legalization of marijuana is still new in Canada. There are a lot of unknowns about how using and growing marijuana will affect your insurance coverage. In the future, tenant policies will likely become more consistent. It's always recommended to disclose your plants and verify that it doesn’t change or void your insurance.