How will legalisation of Cannabis affect travel insurance after Oct. 17, 2018?

How will legalisation of Cannabis affect travel insurance after Oct. 17, 2018?

You may be aware that Cannabis will become legal in Canada October 17 2018.  If you are a user of cannabis you may be wondering how this change in legal status may affect your travel insurance after this date.

I looked at the leaflet published by the Government of Canada titled “Do not travel internationally with cannabis” to review any recommendations you should be aware of if you plan to purchase travel insurance.

First of all, it states that the legalisation of cannabis “will not change Canada’s border rules and regulations”. It will still be illegal to take any cannabis product into or outside Canada, and doing so can result in criminal penalties both in Canada and abroad even if for medical purposes.

Insurers will no doubt be looking at the cannabis legalisation issues and making the necessary changes to their policy wording in the near future and at least one has already addressed the issue publically. I reviewed the wording of a few travel insurance policies and it is my opinion that you may or may not have coverage while traveling within Canada even if you try to test your circumstances against all existing policy rules.

When traveling abroad or to a USA state where cannabis is legal or decriminalized it is unlikely that you would have any coverage regardless of whether you mention use of such product in your medical record.  In very specific circumstances, a claim may be accepted if cannabis was recommended by a physician and the stability requirements of the policy are met and you are traveling to a location where cannabis is legal. A claim can still be denied if a prescription for medical cannabis was purchased over the counter, as most travel policies do not cover over-the-counter medications.

Similar to policy rules related to alcohol, any injury or accident claim that occurred while under the influence of such substances as a result of overuse or misuse would be denied. This would also apply to trip cancelation if a traveler was refused at the border and entry was denied because of a cannabis statement of possession or use. These risks would not be covered by the insurers and a trip cancellation claim would be refused if a traveler was refused entry at the border.

If you are a recreational user, you risk jeopardising your travel insurance coverage if used during your trip.

If you have a prescription for medical cannabis you may soon find wording in a policy where it appears that a claim may be covered if you meet; stability requirements, have a prescription from a physician and are traveling to a jurisdiction where your medical declaration of such use is legal.  It is recommended that you always review the policy wording and ask for clarification in writing for your specific requirement related to coverage if you plan to use cannabis during or prior to your trip.

As more and more insurers in Canada make changes to the rules related to cannabis in their travel insurance policies it is likely that adjustments to covered risks and related claims will be adjusted.

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