Caffery, Oubre, Campbell & Garrison, L.L.P.
New Iberia
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Legalized pot a progressively increasing risk for insurers

“Time is of the essence.”

So says Nat Wienecke, a principal with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. Wienecke’s remarks – and the shared concerns expressed by other insurance groups and institutes across the country – are focused upon the steady increase of American states legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

There are problems with that, say prominent insurance voices.

Big problems.

One key concern is the murkiness attached to any law-enforcement assessment of a legal-impairment limit for motorists. The magazine Insurance Business America duly notes the legitimate concern linked with accurately gauging just how high someone is while behind the wheel.

“The science behind this is very challenging,” states Wienecke. And coming to a broad consensus regarding a legal limit for THC (the active high-inducing compound in marijuana) is virtually impossible. Alcohol concentration in the human body is notably a different matter, with BAC testing allowing for a simple and accurate determination of impairment in any given driver. The 0.08% drunk-driving standard is uniform across the country (excepting in Utah, where it now stands at 0.05%).

How large are the safety concerns linked with pot-impaired drivers?

Far more than trifling, say insurance insiders. Indeed, a recent study authored by the national Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute produced truly alarming results. Data indicate that policyholder collision claims in states that allow for recreational marijuana use spiked as much as 6% over a recent five-year period.

That spells valid – even compelling – concerns for motorists and passengers on the road, employers, law enforcers, safety advocates and, of course companies tasked with providing insurance.

More needs to be done on the impaired-driving front, and quickly, say broad-based commentators closely concerned with the subject matter.

Until it is (with attendant benefits realized), outcomes marked by personal injury and property damage will likely increase both steadily and exponentially.

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