British Columbia insurance claim denied because of cannabis on property

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Since cannabis became legal in Canada last year, there are certain laws in place that allow Canadians to grow limited amounts of cannabis in a household, but a recent court ruling presents a cautionary tale for Canadians growing marijuana on their property.

A superior court judge in British Columbia ruled that a home insurer can deny coverage for a small, legal medical grow located in Chilliwack following a major fire on the property, even though the fire was not caused by the plants.

Bob and Linda Schellenberg had an up-to-code outbuilding on their property with just over 300 plants. Their legal limit was up to 502 plants for medical purposes. After receiving their building permit, Bob Schellenberg told their insurance company about the new building on the property, but did not say what the building was for.

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The fire occurred in 2014 and was unrelated to the cannabis growing on the property, but when the insurance company was made aware that there was cannabis on the property, they denied the Schellenberg’s coverage for the damage.  

The Insurer, Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company told sources that even having one plant on a property is grounds for the insurance company to deny coverage and can even cause the entire policy to become void.

An underwriting expert who testified in the recent course case said “he was not aware of any general insurer in Canada that would take on the risk of any cannabis grow operation, or even the presence of a single marijuana plant.”

It is an unfortunate predicament the Schellenberg’s have found themselves in but it is a warning for any Canadians growing even as much as one plant on their property. It seems that insurance companies have yet to emerge from the dark ages when it comes to legal cannabis.

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