How one insurer beat the marijuana confusion

Published: January 6, 2019

Updated: February 1, 2019

Author: Luke Jones



Through the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in Canada, we were consistently told the country wasn’t ready. After two months of legalization, the main story is that authorities, regulators, and insurance companies are still working through how to best deal with legal pot. However, some insurance providers were ahead of the curve and prepared long before the Cannabis Act went live.

Wynward Insurance Group says it started preparing two years ago. That is when the federal government first announced its plans to legalize cannabis. Since then, the company has been operating in the marijuana insurance space.

“It looked like it was going to be the perfect fit for us as a lot of these risks are really agricultural accounts, [such as] the growers, and we have a fairly large agricultural book in Canada,” said Cheryl Madden, vice president of underwriting solutions and pricing and chief risk officer at Wynward in an interview with Insurance Business.

Madden says when the company was entering the market, it discovered US-based company Next Wave Insurance. A noted name in cannabis insurance in the United States, a partnership was a win-win. For Wynward insurance, it allowed the company to team with an established and experienced name in cannabis insurance, while Next Wave could expand north of the border.

Over the two years that proceeded the legalization of marijuana in Canada, Wynward worked on its product while provincial governments wrangled over the regulatory framework that would contain the Cannabis Act. The company was able to get ahead of the competition and launched its cannabis insurance in September 2018, a month before legalization passed to law.

Madden described the coverage as “seed to sale” and is for organizations in the pot market, including retailers, growers, and all commercial enterprises in between.

“We have the property covered with $70 million in capacity and have access to additional capacity on top of that,” she said. “That covers everything from growing stock indoors, to the physical structures and business interruption coverage.”