CULTURE
The “420 Insurance Lady” Deep Dives Into the Rise of Cannabis Insurance
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Sabrina Alkire, expert cannabis insurance agent, talks about weed industry risks, patients over profit, and what it’s like being fully tattooed with pink hair in the insurance world.
Published on December 8, 2020

The concept of “cannabis insurance” might invite wisecracks such as, “What’s that for? In case someone raids your stash?” People may even question the legality of such service.

But we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift. Pot prohibition is on the way out, and the legal weed industry is ascending. That means a new class of business is afoot — and they’ll need to be insured.

The onset of the legal weed trade is so new and expanding rapidly, old school agencies are hardly qualified to handle contemporary cannabis biz challenges. Enter Sabrina Alkire and her company, 420 Insurance Lady.

Sabrina Alkire isn’t just renowned in the insurance field, she’s also uniquely experienced and passionate about helping create an efficient and successful legal marijuana marketplace by providing dynamic coverage to businesses.

Insurance is a key component of that mission and Sabrina took some time to talk to MERRY JANE all about it.

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MERRY JANE: First off, what is cannabis insurance and how does it work?

Sabrina Alkire: Cannabis insurance covers a large spectrum, from testing facilities to growers to landlords who are renting to a cannabis tenant. It is very similar to any other standard business, but as an agent you just have to understand their exposures enough to do it properly. I have had the honor of being accepted from day one in the cannabis industry, which has put me at an advantage in my own industry.

Who are your clients and how do you cover them?

I insure large franchises with multiple locations that could need something as simple as goods in transit. I also handle larger policies with directors and officers who protect the organization and its partners. In addition, I also insure your small mom and pop grows who just want coverage on their crops for peace of mind. These policies are accommodating to all sizes of businesses.

What makes it important to have cannabis insurance?

We often hear the term “patients over profit.” With insurance, you’re showing the patients that you do care about them and that you do stand behind your product.

Consider an elderly patient falling in a dispensary. If the shop doesn’t have insurance, the dispensary now has to pay out of pocket, and there is a potential risk of closing.

On a larger scale, we also have to consider how recalls can ruin a company overnight with the potential of harming multiple patients. With Product Liability and recall insurance, you are protecting your business from the unknown, as well as protecting patients from potential out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Can you give us one real life example of how cannabis insurance helped or even saved a particular business?

I was contacted by a dispensary in Maryland last year and after reviewing their policy, I saw that they were written as a deli with a carrier who does not accept cannabis risks.

Of course, it was hard to let the prospect know their business was not insured properly and they had been spending money on a policy that would more than likely denied any claim made.

It is important that you are forthcoming with your agent and that you do choose a cannabis carrier or there is truly no point in carrying the policy.

How did you come to be involved with cannabis, insurance, and the combination of the two?

I grew up in California so cannabis was never a “drug” to me. Then, in 2018, I had a brain tumor and was fortunate enough to have a friend in the business who taught me about using cannabis as medicine and it changed my life.

Later that year. I linked up with a local grower and he was kind enough to sit with me for hours and take me on a tour of his facility. He taught me everything from growing processes to extraction methods.

Being fully tattooed with pink hair in the insurance world, as you can imagine, is not common. So, I decided to get in where I fit in and cannabis was it. I had fallen in love with the medicine, as well as the people, and I wanted to use my resources and knowledge to help and give back.

What is the overall mission of 420 Insurance Lady?

Education will always be number one to me. I want to educate business owners in the industry about their exposures and risk, and I also want to help other agents who may not come across these ventures often. At the end of the day, I just want the community insured properly and protected.

What makes 420 Insurance Lady unique in the field of cannabis insurance?

There are not many agents in this field, but what makes me different is that cannabis is 90 percent of all the business I write.

I care enough to read the policy forms and read the court cases arising and everything else necessary to stay on top of what the cannabis industry should expect — especially since circumstances vary by state.

When it comes to the cannabis industry, I also am one of them, I consume, I’m a business owner, I know their exposures first hand.

How have the changing laws affected cannabis insurance — both for better and for worse?

It truly varies by state. Some states require excess policies if you’re a transporter, other states require workers’ compensation.

I think forced insurance isn’t the best idea, as the lawmakers don’t always understand the cannabis community and what is available to them and the costs. However, I do feel that the laws have forced carriers to develop policies that will benefit cannabis business owners, so that’s a positive change.

What is the future of cannabis insurance in general?

I think we will start seeing more carriers and options over the next three years, which will allow more competitive pricing. But, I hope business owners see that cannabis insurance is a real thing now and available through reputable carriers.

What is the future of 420 Insurance Lady?

Growth! Always growth. This is my passion, and I want to help as many people as I can. My executive assistant is the exact same way — always eager to learn and teach. Her skillset is like no other and it allows me to reach more people whether it be the insured, potential clients or even other agents. We will continue to be available nationally and to follow the trends of both the cannabis and insurance industries.

**This was made in partnership with the 420 Insurance Lady

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MERRY JANE is based in Los Angeles, California and is dedicated to elevating the discussion around cannabis culture.
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