Legal representation in disputes with insurers has become paramount for cannabis companies in an ever-expanding operational environment. Cannabis companies may seek to insure against risk of loss as a result of challenges such as unexpected fires, crop protection, business interruption, or adverse consumer reactions to products. In many instances, cannabis companies are even required to insure against such losses in connection with obtaining and maintaining a marijuana license.
Since 2010, Harris Bricken has been helping businesses navigate rapidly evolving cannabis regulation and policy, and our cannabis insurance coverage attorneys advise clients on what coverage, if any, they may have available for a particular loss. Insurance policies are often drafted with myriad conditions that govern (and provide exclusions to) coverage. If you have suffered a loss, coverage counselors can review your insurance program and advise which coverages may apply, as well as which coverages may not. Coverage counselors can also help you navigate the procedural tricks that some insurers play – for example, denying a claim by citing the illegality of cannabis possession under federal law – when seeking to avoid their obligations under applicable policies. If you have suffered a loss and you are not sure whether your insurance program should cover it, Harris Bricken’s coverage attorneys can help you identify the best strategy for you to collect under your policies.
Our coverage counselors also represent cannabis companies in disputes with their insurers, often through formal litigation and even trial. Insurers have a “playbook” for handling claims—in any industry—and counsel with extensive knowledge of that playbook can help you move your insurer towards paying your claim. This can include filing a declaratory judgment action requesting that a judge declare that your insurer has wrongfully denied a claim. Identifying the right coverage strategy can help you avoid the costs of litigation and settle a dispute before filing a complaint, or taking a case to trial if your insurer persists with its denial.
In some jurisdictions (e.g. in Washington state, via the Insurance Fair Conduct Act), legislation provides cannabis companies in insurance disputes with other statutory remedies, even including payment of attorneys’ fees and the costs of litigation if you succeed in your claims against your insurer. The Act delineates several unfair practices specific to the insurance business. Under the Act, insurers have a duty to promptly investigate your claim, fairly settle the claim if coverage is available, and otherwise act in good faith. You must take several procedural steps to protect your rights under this statute, and our insurance coverage team has the knowledge and experience to maximize your recovery.
Harris Bricken’s cannabis attorneys are recognized national leaders at the forefront of the cannabis industry, and our cannabis insurance coverage team has extensive experience representing both insurers and policyholders. We have advocated on behalf of both sides and know cannabis insurance playbooks inside and out.
Our cannabis insurance coverage services include:
- Underwriting advice
- Insurance disputes and coverage claims
- Mediation and arbitration