For cannabis companies, property coverage can cost as much as seven to 10 times what traditional manufacturing and retail outlets pay. That is, of course, because of the inherent hazards involved in manufacturing and selling cannabis, in a difficult insurance market.
For landlords and building owners, taking in a cannabis tenant can be tricky as well. Because of the higher theft and manufacturing risks, many underwriters are unwilling to offer coverage. And, failure by a landlord to disclose a cannabis tenant is likely to result in a denied claim. Keeping property coverage in check by implementing risk management best practices and working to expand coverage and reduce premium costs can propel a cannabis business even further.
Moreover, some landlords and building owners will require businesses to maintain occurrence-based liability coverage, which is harder to secure when running a cannabis operation. An occurrence-based liability policy is one that covers the renter for an accident occurring during the policy period, regardless of when a claim is made.
Instead, some insurance companies will only cover cannabis business’ high risks with a claims-made policy, or one in which claims must be made during the policy period only. Landlords will often stipulate their requirement for an occurrence-based policy in their lease. That means that cannabis businesses with a claims-made policy could unknowingly be in violation of their lease.
These issues and others have allowed landlords to command premium rent from cannabis business owners who find obtaining the right property coverage difficult.
To calm the rising tide of rent and property coverage costs, cannabis business owners and operators can engage in the following risk management considerations.
Risk Management Considerations for Facilities with a Cannabis Operation
Carriers are more likely to provide a policy to cannabis businesses that are doing what they can to minimize their risk. Here are six ways cannabis businesses can reduce their costs, minimize exclusions and obtain broader property coverage.
- If you are a retailer, have a plan to prevent or respond in the event of a robbery.
- Install and know how to use vaults and safes properly.
- Install central station alarms, cameras and other safeguards. Have them tied to your phone for easy access.
- Depending on the nature of the operations, install and regularly test fire sprinklers on site to make sure they are in working order.
- Consider hiring a third party, properly-insured, armed guard to safeguard your storefront on a regular basis.
- Institute industry-known best practices for high-risk manufacturing processes, like oil extraction.
Insurance Considerations for Facilities with a Cannabis Operation
Risk management is critical to controlling risk, and insurance considerations can help your cannabis business obtain broader coverage and reduce premium costs.
- Communicate with your insurance broker.If you’re a landlord and you want to rent to a cannabis tenant, have a conversation with your insurance carrier at least 30 days before the lease begins. Even if you do, there’s a good chance that your carrier will issue a notice of cancellation (NOC) because they don’t want to engage with cannabis risk. On the other hand, if you don’t disclose the new tenant risk, should a claim be filed, it will could be denied, and the non-disclosure could cost you your policy.
- Engage a broker/carrier that specializes in cannabis.In such a volatile market, it is important to work with a broker and carrier that specialize in cannabis. This will enable hidden exclusions to be removed and help you procure the best policy and pricing possible for your organization.
- Tell your insurance “story.”Let the carrier understand your business and its risks by telling them your “story.” Tell them what your business does well, including current risk management practices and how you’ve been able to reduce claims. This will go a long way toward potentially minimizing premium costs and exclusions and obtaining broader coverage.
- Get another set of eyes. Most carriers will require a lengthy application from cannabis businesses in which the carrier may require the business to comply with certain requirements like having an approved safe or vault room. Your business will be held to the requirements stipulated in the application should you sign and submit it. Ask your broker or a reliable attorney to review the contract for anything you may have missed. Some carriers will incorporate the submitted application into the policy. Any changes between policy inception and a claim could cause coverage issues.
The fast-growing nature of the cannabis industry has ushered in a new set of challenges for business owners and operators. Keeping property coverage in check by implementing risk management best practices and working to expand coverage and reduce premium costs can propel a cannabis business even further.