The legalization of marijuana, which has become a reality in some states, does not give anyone the right to get sit at the steering wheel of a motored vehicle, after experiencing a marijuana-produced high. Members of the law enforcement community are studying different ways to force marijuana-users to maintain safe driving habits. Obviously, the habits of younger drivers ought to be shaped by well-meaning adults. No doubt, insurance companies would like to help strengthen the efforts made by law-enforcers and other adults.
How insurance companies could act, in order to aid such efforts
At the present time, insurers have always agreed to cover the medical costs of an injured driver. Yet their willingness to make that offer does not extend to any driver that gets caught driving while intoxicated (DWI). Consequently, an insurance company could take the same approach to those drivers that felt tempted to sit at the wheel of a motored vehicle after enjoying a marijuana-triggered “high.”
Anyone that has purchased a car insurance policy enjoys the chance to get optional coverage, after paying a higher premium. For example, a driver can purchase coverage for damage to the driver’s vehicle, in the event of theft, fire, collision or other unfortunate event. Yet the policy holder’s ability to obtain such coverage could be denied, if the driver’s record included mention of driving while under marijuana’s influence.
The third approach that an insurer might take could relate to the premiums paid by policy holders. The company reserves the right to increase such premiums. It can even change the rules, regarding when a policy holder’s premium should be raised. For example, the insurer could declare that any policy holder that had been caught driving, while under the influence of a substance that can affect the brain would be hit with a higher premium.
Coordination of actions by insurance companies and laws governing drivers’ behavior
It is too early to say at what point that last approach might be tried. Legal authorities have indicated that the enforcers of the law plan to match the driver’s penalty to the frequency of the offense. In other words, a first offense would force legal authorities to fine the guilty party and suspend his or her license for several days. The length of the suspension and the size of the fine would then become higher, following each offense.
Insurers might decide to raise the premium on a first time offender if he or she chose to violate a limited suspension. Insurance companies might even do that to drivers that have violated a second and slightly longer suspension; that would be up to the insurers. Certainly, no insurance company would hesitate to raise the premium quite a bit for the driver that has violated a third suspension.
At this point, no one can say exactly what actions any insurer might take against a marijuana-using policy holder. Ideally, those actions will be both fair and effective.