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Insurance Commissioner announces new workers’ compensation program for California’s cannabis industry

News: 2018 Press Release

For Release: August 30, 2018
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov
Insurance Commissioner announces new workers’ compensation program for California’s cannabis industry
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced today a new workers' compensation insurance program for California's cannabis industry. The program was created by Atlas General Insurance Services to serve businesses and workers in the cannabis industry.

"Cannabis businesses should have insurance coverage available to them just like any other California business," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "As Insurance Commissioner, my mission is insurance protection for all Californians, which includes insurance for California's legalized cannabis businesses and its workers. This new program from Atlas is a crucial step in the right direction for this evolving industry. I encourage more insurance companies to offer cannabis business insurance products with the department to meet the needs of this emerging market."

This program can accommodate workers' compensation risks involved in all aspects of the cannabis industry – including growers, extractors, analytical labs, medicine manufacturers, food & beverage products manufacturing, packaging, warehousing & distribution, transportation and dispensaries. Atlas provides all of the distribution and underwriting as well as the carrier backroom functions on behalf of Accredited Surety & Casualty. The program will be rolled out to over 1,700 Atlas appointed agents in California and another 4,000 agents in the other states with legal cannabis operations.

"Atlas has been studying the cannabis industry well before it became legalized in California," said Bill Trzos, CEO of Atlas General Insurance Services. "Through our research we recognized the opportunity to be proactive in entering the cannabis market and are excited to be one of a few work comp platforms in the state."

Commissioner Jones launched in California an initiative last year to encourage admitted commercial insurance companies to write insurance to fill coverage gaps for the cannabis industry. As a result of Jones' initiative, in California the first filing and approval of an admitted commercial insurer offering insurance for the cannabis industry was announced in November 2017, the first surety bond program for the industry was announced in February 2018, the first coverage for commercial landlords for the industry was announced in May 2018, the first standardized cannabis policy forms and program filed by the American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS) was approved in June 2018, and earlier this month three more insurance carriers were approved by Commissioner Dave Jones to offer surety bond coverage for the cannabis industry in California.

Jones has convened meetings between commercial insurance company executives and cannabis business owners to educate the insurance industry about the sophistication, professionalism and risk management of the cannabis industry. Jones has also organized tours for insurance executives at cannabis businesses.

In October of last year, Jones held a first-in-the-nation public hearing to identify insurance gaps faced by the cannabis industry. Cannabis businesses and insurance industry representatives testified about the limited availability of insurance for cannabis businesses. The hearing revealed that while there is insurance available from surplus lines insurers, insurance gaps in coverage remain, and, until the approval announced last November, no admitted insurance carriers were offering insurance products to cannabis businesses. Jones also announced that he has directed Department staff to devote the resources necessary to timely review the cannabis product and rate filings.

Earlier this month, Commissioner Jones was appointed chair of the newly established National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Cannabis Insurance Working Group. In May, Commissioner Jones hosted a webinar titled "Weeding through the Unique Insurance Needs of the Cannabis Industry" with the NAIC Center for Insurance Policy and Research (CIPR). In April, Jones renewed his call for insurers to offer insurance products for California's legalized cannabis industry in the wake of published reports that President Trump has overruled Attorney General Jeff Sessions' policy on federal law enforcement against state legalized cannabis. Jones sent a formal letter to California insurers encouraging them to fill insurance gaps for California's cannabis businesses.

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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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