If you get a non-smoker discount on your home insurance premium, you may be paying 5-20% less than a smoker with the same coverage. However, when your broker asks if there are any smokers in the home, that includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and yes, cannabis. Vaping too. All of these variations on smoking have been shown to increase the risk of fire, and would nullify your discount.
For as long as there has been home insurance, insurance companies have used your smoking status to help set premiums. The last time you called a broker for a quote, they definitely asked you if there were any smokers living in the home. If you don’t smoke cigarettes, you probably answered no. Different companies structure their premiums differently, but most home insurers in Canada charge more if there is a smoker living in the home. Some add a surcharge for smokers, some offer a non-smoker discount, but it all works out to the same thing. If you or someone else in your household is a smoker, you probably pay more (5-20%) for your home insurance. This is because smokers have been proven to be at higher risk for fires in the home.
With cannabis becoming legal in Canada a few years ago, the question has come up,
What if I don’t smoke cigarettes or cigars, but I smoke a joint every once in a while? Or what if I vape?. Insurers don’t care what you smoke or how you smoke it. The data on fire losses shows that any form of smoking or vaping puts you at a higher risk for fire. Tobacco or cannabis. Cigarettes, cigars, joints, pipes, vapes or bongs. If you or someone you live with uses any one of these, then you are considered a smoker, and you do not qualify for a non-smoker discount.
What if I don’t tell my insurance broker?
Your insurance broker relies on you to tell the truth when you apply for insurance, so that they can help you get the best coverage at the best possible price. If you deliberately lie on your application, whether over the phone, in person or online, that could void your policy and leave you exposed to hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses if you should have a fire or other calamity. If the lie comes to light, your policy could also be cancelled, and then your premiums will go up by much more than 20%.
It’s understandable if you genuinely didn’t know that the question about smoking applied to more than just cigarettes, and rest assured that an honest mistake on your application would not void your coverage. But more and more insurance providers are now specifying cannabis and vaping, given the growing popularity of these products. So if you use them, you really need to tell your broker about it. You may pay a little more, but it’s much better than the alternative.
Lastly, you do have a responsibility to update your broker or insurer in the middle of the policy or on renewal if your risk changes. So if you applied 5 years ago when you didn’t smoke at all, and now you took up vaping, you’re required to let your insurance provider know, just as you would with other home insurance discounts.
During these financially challenging times, and with premiums seemingly always going up, it’s natural to look for any opportunity to save a few bucks. Mitch Insurance understands this, and that’s why we work with more insurance companies than just about any other insurance provider you can think of. Call us today, and we’ll get you dozens of quotes from the best insurers in Canada. Chances are, one of them will be just the deal you were looking for.
Special thanks to Mitch account manager Shane Rosenberg for his contributions to this article.