Canadian Underwriter

How to talk about marijuana with clients

October 18, 2018  

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Brokers need to know what their client’s habitational lease or contract states about marijuana use to provide their best advice, the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario said recently.

divorceKevin O’Hare, IBAO’s education supervisor and instructional designer, said brokers need to know their client’s dwelling type, particularly whether it’s an apartment or condominium, and what the lease or contract states. “Many, if not all, landlords and condo boards will be revising their contracts for cannabis – some to allow, others to restrict,” O’Hare said. “That is likely to impact the client before their insurance policy does.”

O’Hare was responding to a question about the Top 3 things insurance professionals need to know about marijuana legalization.

They should also know the specific type of marijuana being discussed with a client. “Medical marijuana has different rules and quantities, and also workplace impacts, that greatly differ from recreational marijuana,” O’Hare said. “Medical marijuana has more precedent to it, but also legal restrictions on how we can ask a client about it, whereas recreational marijuana will follow similarly to the established rules tobacco and alcohol currently have.”

The third aspect is to understand the topic is a moving target; insurance implications to the workplace, home and auto will continue to change. The stigma surrounding marijuana use is also changing. “Clients are going to be more open about discussing it for their insurance needs, and that can be challenging for some,” O’Hare said. “As changes continue to arise, one needs to stay informed and adapt.”

For brokers, the biggest concern is what insurers will come to market with in terms of updates to policies or new products. “There are many moving parts at this moment, and we’ve seen a little of the ‘let the other guy go first’ – for many good reasons, of course!” O’Hare said. The fact that insurance uses precedent to assess risk and cannabis doesn’t have that means “it’s really a matter of time for cannabis to become as predictable as other risks.”

O’Hare discussed the topic days after it launched new e-learning courses on cannabis to prepare for legalization Oct. 17. There are three versions of the Understanding Cannabis Legalization courses – one for personal lines, another for commercial lines and a third, longer version that includes information from both for brokers that need to know all areas of the business. “We didn’t want to use a broker’s time learning about something they wouldn’t feel they needed, so we created three paths for these courses that directly matched the line of insurance brokers are in.”

IBAO has created handouts on cannabis legalization, including one on talking points for brokers. It is a short list of facts in a few key topic areas – from tenants to home and condo to auto. “We wanted brokers to have a ‘launch point’ to approach their clients on cannabis that was easy,” O’Hare said. “Clients may not volunteer intents to use or have cannabis, so we wanted something simple and direct for brokers to have to bring it up.”

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.

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