The Search For Cannabis-Related Insurance Policies

Cindy Kleh 8 May 2019

Now Getting Easier and More Affordable

Ed Note: This profile was written as part of a paid business partnership.

The number of cannabis-related businesses (CRBs) in Vermont is rapidly growing, and for those who have never run a business, it’s worth the time to take their eyes off the profit margins long enough to study all the risks. What happens when a product gets to market that is contaminated with residual pesticides or mold? What if an employee gets hurt on the job or while delivering a shipment? What about fires or explosions in the manufacturing lab? Burglaries or employee theft? Not to mention all the normal things that can go wrong with a thriving, well-planned business.

Major insurance groups in the U.S. have so far avoided the cannabis industry for several reasons:

  • A lack of knowledge about cannabis farming, processing, and use
  • A lack of related insurance policy language
  • A lack of data or scientific studies on cannabis
  • Still-evolving state and federal regulations regarding hemp products
  • Conflicting state and federal laws
  • Rapidly evolving standard business practices
  • The unique hazards associated with the industry

But a handful of smaller companies, like Kinney Pike Insurance Professionals, are taking on the unique needs and challenges of this budding market, especially since hemp recently became legal on a federal level. Kinney Pike, one of the largest independent insurance agencies in New England, is already covering THC-related businesses in Massachusetts and Maine where sales are legal.

“Cannabis-related companies have been underserved in the insurance industry,” says Josh MacDuff, Commercial Account Executive at Kinney Pike, based in their Rutland office. He sees opportunity where others see only risk, and is offering affordable, inclusive packages, tailor-made to protect these companies’ investments, no matter what facet of the cannabis industry they are involved in.

“I sleep at night knowing I’m doing the right thing for underserved companies in this industry.”

He is also actively working to dispel the myths surrounding CRBs; for example, that these businesses are run by potheads who are unprofessional and unreliable, that “these types of people” are prone to resist compliance with laws and regulations. “I’ve heard these talking points in conversations with insurers every time cannabis businesses come up,” says McDuff, “when in real life, they are just not true!”

“I have a true passion for helping these types of businesses,” says McDuff. “I want to write every aspect of their portfolios. After (THC) cannabis is legal on the federal level, it will still take another three to five years before standard companies will step up and offer competitive policies to CRBs.” He adds, “I sleep at night knowing I’m doing the right thing for underserved companies in this industry.”

MacDuff has spent eight years in the insurance industry, and with experience in agriculture and a preference for natural remedies over prescription drugs, CRBs seemed like a perfect niche for him. He is on the board of the Vermont Farmers Food Center and Farmacy Project, advocates of increased access to locally produced food in the state and expanded markets for farmers. He can be found at the Rutland Farmers’ Markets throughout the summer, helping out with his wife’s booth or shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables for his family.

MacDuff offers free consultations to answer any questions about available or existing insurance policies, and can be contacted at 802-309-1693 and [email protected].


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