SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s comments on the recreational marijuana vote issue are making headlines across the state. He says, “I think it’s a disaster.”
Since the issue is making headlines, one of our viewers wrote: “I fear that if recreational marijuana passes in November, our car insurance rates will increase. What is the experience in other states? Have the prices increased?”
Voters will decide the issue in November. The proposal would make marijuana legal for adults over 21 to buy, possess, consume, deliver, manufacture and sell for personal use. It would also allow most people who have committed non-violent marijuana-related offenses to be released from prison, probation or parole and have their criminal records expunged.
Regarding auto insurance rates, we reached out to insurance commissioners in Colorado, Washington, and California to ask about their experience with auto insurance rates after the adoption of marijuana in recreational purposes. Vincent Plymell of 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 take risks, companies don’t detail 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 correlated with a 6.5% growth in the rate of accidents involving injuries and a 2.3% increase in those involving fatalities. With legalization and retail sales, the study found the total impact was a 5.8% increase in injury crash rates and a 4.1% increase in fatal crash rates. But these results were inconsistent across states.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has accepted an interview.
“We have been doing studies since 2014. And the results have been consistent. We see about a 5% or 6% increase in accident rates in states that have legalized recreational use. So we started studying the first states that legalized recreational use. We looked at the most recent study. We looked at California, Nevada, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. And we’ve seen an increase in both injury crashes and insurance claims from crashes,” 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 increase when accidents increase. He also mentioned that if you use marijuana while driving and have an accident, your rates will go up just like the rates go up for drunk drivers.
I also contacted the group supporting the proposal in November. They are called Legal Missouri. They pointed me to an article from GetJerry. This company is a car insurance comparison service. The article states that car insurance premiums are almost identical in states where marijuana is illegal compared to states where it is legal.
So for our question, “Have rates gone up?” I don’t see clear evidence that you can count on a rate increase of, say, $5 a month. I hear you could hurt others if you use marijuana and drive. And, if you do collapse and survive, you will pay the price in higher bounties. So, until more evidence comes. We leave this one in the middle and say neither yes nor no.
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