SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s comments on the recreational marijuana ballot issue are making headlines across the state. He says, “I think this thing is a disaster.“
As the issue is in the news, one of our viewers wrote:I am concerned that if recreational marijuana passes in November, our auto insurance rates will go up. What is the experience in other countries? Did the rates go up?“
Voters will decide on the issue in November. The proposal would make it legal for adults over 21 to purchase, possess, consume, deliver, manufacture and sell marijuana for personal use. It would also allow most people with non-violent marijuana offenses to get off prison, probation or parole and have their criminal records cleared.
As for auto insurance rates, we contacted insurance commissioners in Colorado, Washington State and California to ask about their experience with auto insurance rates after recreational marijuana use. Vincent Plymell with the State of Colorado, Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Insurance responded. “Rates are determined based on losses and expenses,” Plymell explained. “And while they do take risks, companies aren’t subject to the detailed reasons for losses in their filings with us.”
We also contacted several insurance companies and insurance industry groups.
The Insurance Information Institute sent us several articles, including this one. Blog III says, “The legalization of recreational marijuana use was associated with a 6.5 percent increase in the rate of accidents involving injuries and a 2.3 percent increase in those involving death. With legalization and retail sales, the study found the overall impact was a 5.8 percent increase in injury crash rates and a 4.1 percent increase in fatal crash rates. But these results were inconsistent across states.”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety agreed to an interview.
“We have been doing the studies since 2014. And the results have been consistent. We see a 5 or 6% increase in crash rates in states that have legalized recreational use. So we began to study the first states that legalized recreational use. We looked at the latest study. We looked at California, Nevada, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. And we’ve seen an increase in both injury accidents and accident insurance claims,” commented Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The organization has not studied the impact on insurance rates. Rader says it’s complicated by the fact that states regulate insurance rates. But, in general, insurance rates go up when collisions increase. He also mentioned that if you consume marijuana while driving and crash, your rates will increase just as the rates for those who drink and drive increase.
I also contacted the group supporting the proposal in November. They are called Legal Missouri. They pointed me to an article from GetJerry. That company is a car insurance comparison service. The article states that car insurance premiums are nearly identical in states where marijuana is illegal compared to states where it is legal.
So to our question, “Did rates go up?” I’m not seeing clear evidence that you can count on raising rates by, say, $5 a month. I’m learning that you can hurt others if you use marijuana and drive. And, if you crash and survive, you’ll pay the price in higher premiums. Well, until more evidence comes in. We’re leaving this in the middle and we’re not going to say yes or no.
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