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Insurance Commissioner holds public hearing on insurance gaps for cannabis industry

News: 2017 Press Release

For Release: October 19, 2017
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Insurance Commissioner holds public hearing on insurance gaps for cannabis industry
Jones urges commercial insurers to make insurance available to cover cannabis businesses from seed to sale
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones held a public hearing today to identify insurance gaps faced by the cannabis industry. Cannabis businesses and insurance industry representatives testified about the limited availability of insurance for the cannabis businesses. Jones is working to get commercial insurers to write insurance for the cannabis industry. As a result of a voter approved ballot measure, adult use of cannabis becomes legal in California on January 1, 2018. The Commissioner's public hearing revealed that while there is some insurance available from surplus lines insurers, that insurance is limited in scope and so far there are no admitted commercial carriers writing insurance for the cannabis industry in California. 

"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," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "As insurance commissioner, my goal is insurance protection for all Californians, which includes California cannabis businesses, workers and customers."

Earlier this year, Commissioner Jones launched an initiative to encourage admitted commercial insurers to consider filing commercial insurance for the cannabis industry. This effort has several components.

Commissioner Jones has convened meetings of senior executives from insurance companies with leaders in the cannabis industry. The purpose of these meetings has been to educate the insurance industry about the cannabis industry, from seed to sale, and its insurance needs. Jones has asked the cannabis industry to compile information for insurers so they can better understand the cannabis industry. Current cannabis industry revenues in California are estimated at $6 billion a year, which is expected in four to five years to rise to $20 to $25 billion a year.

Jones has organized tours of major cannabis businesses for insurance executives, so they can see first-hand the sophistication, risk management, regulatory oversight, professionalism and transparency of the cannabis industry and the opportunities for the insurance industry.

Jones has invited insurers to file insurance products for the cannabis industry with the Department of Insurance and made advance commitments of Department resources to review these filings.

Jones' cannabis effort is modeled on his successful initiative to get auto insurers to begin filing and offering insurance for ride sharing drivers. Like the cannabis industry, Jones identified insurance gaps in the ride sharing industry which he worked to close.

"The voters have spoken so now it's our job as state officials to make sure that we successfully implement the legalization of cannabis," added Jones. "This includes working with the insurance industry and cannabis industry to encourage commercial and surplus lines insurers to fill the insurance gaps faced by cannabis industry."

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Media Notes:
  • The California Department of Insurance has a dedicated webpage on the cannabis and insurance issues:
  • The Insurance Commissioner held his public hearing at the same location as the LA Cannabis Task Force and California Cannabis Industry Association public hearings.
  • Complaints about insurance policies should be directed to our Consumer Hotline at (800) 927-4357 (HELP).
  • The Insurance Commissioner is also a member of the Treasurer's Cannabis Banking Working Group which is working to address gaps in banking availability, much as the Insurance Commissioner is working on gaps in insurance availability.   

Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.

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