As of 2018, Michigan had the highest number of cannabis production licenses in the U.S. with 215. That number has only continued to grow. Needless to say, our state has a large number of dispensaries, all competing for business.
Many people look at cannabis dispensaries and somehow see them as ‘different’ from traditional businesses. That just isn’t the case! Like any other business that sells a good or service, cannabis dispensaries require some type of business insurance.
The difference, however, is that there are different types of insurance plans you can choose for your dispensary based on your individual needs. It’s important to understand these different plans so you can select the right one (proper coverage). Making sure you have the right insurance in this industry is of the utmost importance. If you’ve already gone through the trouble of getting the right licensing and certifications, don’t forget to go one step further in getting the right insurance.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of your cannabis dispensary insurance options and break down each one, so you can ensure you have the proper plan for your operation. We’ll also touch on the importance of working with a broker, so you can make sure you’re taking the right steps with your coverage.
Why is Finding the Right Insurance Important?
Finding the best insurance is a must for any type of business. But, it’s especially important for those in the cannabis industry, and it should be a key component of your business plan.
Dispensary insurance will help to protect every aspect of your business, from the property itself to your employees, and the customers who shop there. It will even protect your products. Far too many dispensary owners think that if a customer has a problem with a product, the blame goes to the grower. That isn’t always true. It may be found that the product was mishandled or stored improperly in your care.
Additionally, dispensaries are typically small businesses that are not nationally known. If a customer has a problem with anything they purchased from your dispensary, you are the one they will turn to for answers or the one they may “go after” from a legal standpoint.
Finally, having the right insurance will give you peace of mind. Chances are, you didn’t get into the cannabis dispensary business to worry about paperwork and legal regulations! While they’re incredibly important, they aren’t the source of your passion. When you’re confident that you have the right insurance coverage, you can focus on the things you truly love, and grow your business from the ground up!
Simply put, you need to be able to focus on your business. That’s especially true if you operate your own growing facility/farm as well as a dispensary. Taking the time to research insurance will make all the difference in the world in how focused you can be on the future of your business!
Shopping for the Right Insurance
Because the cannabis industry is still relatively new, you may not accurately be able to identify the tolerance of risk your business has. Before you even begin shopping, it’s important to understand that you may experience some losses if anything happens to your business. It’s a good idea to have some sort of savings account or “backup” fund at the ready in case anything does happen and insurance doesn’t completely cover your expenses.
When it comes time to actually invest in insurance, the first thing to consider as you’re shopping is the premium price as well as the coverage limit.
This is really up to you since cannabis insurance premiums can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. You might even see premiums for $15,000.
How can you decide how much to purchase? Determine the risks of your business. What are the strengths and weaknesses? How much are you willing to invest in coverage upfront in order to protect your assets if something should occur?
Understanding the Legal Aspects of Your Insurance
It’s time to do some homework. Once you’ve decided what you’re willing to spend on insurance and the tolerance of risk for your cannabis business, you’ll have to make sure you’re choosing coverage that fits the right legal aspects of your business.
Michigan is one of the states that require proof of insurance in order to run a dispensary. It can be extremely helpful to work with an attorney or insurance broker to make sure the coverage you’re considering fits the legal requirements of the state. It may not be enough to look at national requirements since cannabis has not been legalized in every state yet. Unfortunately, the numbers can get confusing quickly. A qualified broker like LSI Insurance can make the process easier.
Minimizing Your Risks
As a business owner in a unique industry, it’s important to minimize your risk and take advantage of loss control as much as possible. In order to do that, you will want to work closely with loss control specialists and risk management teams to determine how your business can take safer initiatives and avoid accidents.
A loss control specialist can point out any potential safety issues that your business might have now, or things that be non-compliant in the future so you can take care of them quickly.
You should also talk to any employees you might have about lowering their own risks. Digital education courses and requiring some employees to obtain certain certifications can help to reduce those risks and may allow you to purchase a lower premium.
What Are the Types of Cannabis Dispensary Insurance?
Before you’re ready to make your final decision on the right insurance for your business, it’s important to consider the different types of cannabis insurance to choose from. Some of the most common options include:
- Cannabis general liability insurance: Like most other businesses, this would protect your premises and any other aspect of public contact. Should something happen on the grounds of your dispensary that would injure someone, you would need this type of insurance to protect yourself.
- Product liability insurance: In addition to protecting the people and property, you also want to protect your products. A product liability lawsuit could occur at any time if someone has an adverse reaction or if they consume a product and then do something reckless or harmful to themselves or someone else. Accidents can happen when someone is impaired from cannabis use, and you will need to make sure your products are adequately protected if anyone were ever to come after your business in regards to one of those accidents.
- Hemp crop insurance: Some dispensaries grow their own crop and have their own farms. If you do, hemp crop insurance is essential. While it is not mandated by the state, think of how valuable your crop is. In essence, it is the bread and butter of your entire business. If something were to happen to it, whether a natural disaster or simply human error, you don’t want to risk losing everything you’ve worked for because you can’t harvest right away.
- Property insurance: Property insurance for your growing operation will also help to protect everything from the furniture and equipment on the grounds to the plants themselves. For example, let’s say a bad storm damages your greenhouse. Your property insurance will cover that damage and give you the necessary funds to repair it quickly.
Which Insurance Do You Really Need?
The type of cannabis insurance you need will largely depend on how your business runs. For example, if you only have a retail shop and get your products from somewhere else, you may need less coverage. In many cases, general liability insurance is enough for small retail operations.
General liability will help to protect your business if someone gets hurt on the premises. Slips and falls are typically the biggest risk when you’re inviting the public into your business. Product liability insurance can also help to cover any legal fees you might incur if you have to go to court over a lawsuit.
If you do have a farming operation, it can also be a good idea to consider workers’ compensation insurance. Again, accidents happen. Whether they are human error or not, your operation can be blamed. You don’t want to lose thousands of dollars paying for medical bills or legal fees because one of your employees gets injured on the job!
Purchasing Your Policy
Once you have finally decided on the policy that is right for you, your homework still isn’t done. The application process isn’t something that should be rushed.
Before you apply, recap the important steps to ensure you’re making the right choice:
- Determine your risks and tolerance
- Know how much protection you need
- Work with an attorney or broker to cover the legal aspects of your insurance
- Educate your employees to lower risk
- Explore different coverage options
- Fill out your application and check it over more than once
Having confidence in the insurance you’re choosing can make you feel so much better about your business’ safety and security as you move forward. It can be a tedious process to go through, but it’s a necessary one for your overall success.
How to Maximize Your Coverage
Once you’ve finally chosen the right policy and you feel good about your decision, you’ll feel immediate relief. However, your research and homework are really never done when it comes to maximizing your coverage. Keep these tips in mind as your business continues to grow. Not only will they help to keep your dispensary safe, but they may actually end up saving you money:
- Consider looking into advertisement injury coverage. If you do any kind of marketing for your business, it’s very easy for someone to take your words or claims and ‘twist’ them if they don’t seem completely accurate. For example, if you make a claim that one of your products will relax whoever takes it, and that person doesn’t feel relaxed, they could make a claim against you.
- Go beyond basic compliance. We talked briefly above about certifying your employees and keeping them as educated as possible. But, do more, if you can. Just scraping by on the bare minimum can be risky, because rules and regulations can change at any time.
- Even if your employees are certified budtenders, a good rule of thumb is to prohibit them from making product recommendations for specific medical issues. They can certainly make recommendations based on their own opinions. But, if a customer comes in claiming they have a medical condition and a budtender suggests that a certain product will “cure” it, they are putting your business at risk. If that product doesn’t provide a cure, that customer could easily take legal action.
Choosing the Right Broker
When you’re involved in the cannabis industry, choosing the right insurance broker is of the utmost importance. The right broker will have extensive knowledge of the cannabis industry and policies, and will keep you updated and informed on:
- New policies
- Regulations and protections for your business
- Innovations within the industry
You should be willing to invest in a relationship with your broker. They are on your side. At LSI – we are on your side and pride ourselves on having experience working with cannabis-related businesses. Our founder has been working in the industry for over 35 years!
If you’re in the cannabis industry or you’re just getting started with your own dispensary and you want to know more about hemp insurance, feel free to contact us today for information. We’re happy to talk about the type of coverage your business may need. You’re undoubtedly dealing with the headaches that can come with so many rules and regulations already! Don’t let your insurance coverage be something that holds you back.