With last week’s devastating wildfires in Northern California and the state’s impending rollout of recreational cannabis on Jan. 1, 2018, California wants legal cannabis businesses to have commercial cannabis coverage and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is on a mission to make it happen.
On Oct. 19, 2017, Jones hosted a public hearing to address the cannabis industry’s insurance gaps, hearing from both cannabis industry members and insurance industry members.
“Cannabis businesses face insurance availability and insurance gaps – which means that cannabis customers, workers and business owners won’t have access to insurance to help them recover if there are accidents, injuries, property damage, or any of the things commercial insurance typically covers,” Jones said in a press release. “As insurance commissioner, my goal is insurance protection for all Californians, which includes California cannabis businesses, workers and customers.”
While California has published a list of agents and brokers willing to work with cannabis businesses, it doesn’t include any commercial carriers, but at least one may soon be coming online.
“I can’t reveal [the commercial insurer], but we’re excited that we have a filing,” Jones said in an interview with the Insurance Journal.
According to Phillip Skaggs, assistant counsel at the American Association of Insurance Services, an insurance organization that offers specialized services for property/casualty insurers, “[AAIS is] developing standardized cannabis insurance forms.”
Mark Sektnan, president of the Association of California Insurance Companies, testified at the hearing that ACIC has been flooded with calls from cannabis farmers regarding the wildfires in Northern California and cannabis coverage.
“I think about a third of the calls I had about the Sonoma fires were about cannabis fields,” Sektnan said.
While Jones has yet to announce the commercial insurer that has filed with the CDI, the public hearing piqued interest among some additional carriers.
“Several other carriers approached me after the public hearing yesterday and they said they plan to file too,” Jones told the Insurance Journal.