Expensive lesson: Medical marijuana plants aren't covered by insurance

Michele Mandel, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

TORONTO -- If your TV is stolen, your insurance should cover it. If your jewelry is snatched, it's almost certainly covered under your homeowner's policy.

But your expensive marijuana plants? Who knew -- turns out they're barely covered at all.

Darren Stewart found that out the hard way. At every court level, he's lost his battle to get TD General Insurance Co. to pay out $45,000 to cover the theft of 11 medicinal marijuana plants he had growing in his Rockwood, Ont., backyard.

Instead, he and his wife Vanessa Miller are now on the hook to pay more than $20,000 in TD's legal costs, not to mention mounting bills of their own.

In 1997, Stewart suffered severe injuries in a car accident and received Health Canada authorization to grow pot for his chronic pain. But in 2009 and then again in 2011, his plants were stolen just before harvest.

He expected his TD insurance would pay for the weed's replacement value because he believed his expensive crop fell under his policy's coverage for personal property: "We insure the contents of your dwelling and other personal property you own, wear or use while on your premises which is usual to the ownership or maintenance of a dwelling."

His insurer didn't see it that way.

Instead, his claims adjuster looked at his marijuana as a garden-variety plant covered under his extended coverage for landscaping -- and that was capped at a maximum of $1,000 each for "trees, shrubs and plants."

Unsatisfied, Stewart and his wife decided to take TD to court. They figured that if they had cancer drugs stolen, they'd be reimbursed, so why not medical marijuana? They filed two lawsuits against their insurer claiming $45,000 for the value of the stolen weed and a further $180,000 for each case of breach of contract, mental stress and physical pain, breach of fiduciary duty and infliction of mental and physical suffering.

The courts wanted to know what he was smoking.


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