"I don't think we're going to see an insurance change until it becomes federally legal," says independent agent Sabrina Alkire. “I do think we're going to see more property markets opening up, but I doubt that we'll see any more general liability markets until it becomes federally regulated.”
LBV Insurance Agency
How did you get started at your agency?
My father is vice president of American Fidelity, a disability company out here in Oklahoma. When I was 25, I decided to get into insurance. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. In 2018, I wanted to become a producer and the guys that own the agency I work at now had previously worked with my dad, so I linked up with them.
I had bright pink hair at the time and I have full tattoos. I'm not your traditional insurance agent. They kind of took a chance on me, as I did them.
I had brain cancer in 2018, so I was already acquainted with cannabis and how it heals. I had a client who was in this market and he sat down with me and went over CBD and its health benefits. I fell in love with it.
I remember my old mentor saying that you need to find a niche, and whatever you have the most exposure to, go after those people. I found that cannabis opened the doors for me from day one.
Biggest industry changes?
We're seeing carriers responding to claims. We've seen tightening up on the electrical requirements and on packaging and dosages, which has more to do with product liability. They've also tightened up on checking finances on renewals. We've also seen more companies come into the market and more types of policies become available, like directors & officers and employment practices liability insurance.
Quoting time due to the limited markets that we have. Unless you have a book volume of cannabis, then your submissions can take two to three weeks to get back. Then, there's a challenge with workers compensation rates, because we're using class codes that weren't made for this industry. Another struggle I have is that carriers don't want to take on a lot of the exposure, so they're capping the total insurable value. I have to puzzle-piece policies together with different carriers.
Future trends in cannabis insurance?
I don't think we're going to see an insurance change until it becomes federally legal. I do think we're going to see more property markets opening up, but I doubt that we'll see any more general liability markets until it becomes federally regulated. In the future, I plan on working with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to develop class codes so they apply to the market—using a florist code for a grower isn't adequate.
Advice for a fellow agent?
You need to know what each carrier is excluding and what's tucked away inside the forms because they're not coming out and just blatantly telling you, “Oh, that's a vape cartridge company? We exclude vape cartridges." They'll still write it, but there's going to be massive exclusions. Also, finding out what can be endorsed versus writing a new policy is important. When I'm doing reviews, I'm seeing exposures written as another policy when it could have just been endorsed for $300.
If you're an agent who doesn't mess around with cannabis, reach out to an agent who does. I'm not writing home and auto; I stay in my lane. At the end of the day, we need to avoid errors & omissions claims and to protect our clients.
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.
This article was published in the February 2021 issue of Independent Agent magazine.