Editor’s note: This part of a series of profiles on cannabis brokers, in which Insurance Journal explores why and how these folks got into the business, the ups and downs of insuring cannabis, as well as a few tips for those interested in a little professional development.
Isaac Bock, vice president of AlphaRoot, a New York-based broker focused on the cannabis space, has only been in insurance for the last five-and-a half-years, but it didn’t take him long to find a specialty.
Bock was with Marsh before taking a position at Founder Shield (AlphaRoot’s parent company) as a senior account executive and then vice president. He began working on cannabis accounts as soon as he joined Founder Shield in 2017.
Beyond insurance, Bock is boning up on his cannabis education. He’s pursuing an M.S. in medical cannabis science and therapeutics from the University of Maryland. He is also a member of the TrailBlazers, a curated community of cannabis business and cultural leaders who work to advance the industry.
Bock spoke with Insurance Journal about his experience as a cannabis broker.
Insurance Journal: Why did you get in the cannabis and insurance space?
Bock: As a lot people in the insurance industry seemingly do, I fell into the industry. While at the University of Pennsylvania I originally planned on going into the legal industry but wanted to get some work experience – and enjoy New York – before going back to school.
A fellow lacrosse alum discussed opportunities at Marsh with me and convinced me to apply following graduation and I have been in it ever since. As far as the cannabis industry goes, the medicinal uses have always been of interest to me as a healthier alternative to many of the widely accepted pain relief medicines on the market today. The AlphaRoot brand is actually one of the main reasons I left Marsh due to my interest in the cannabis space.
IJ: Has this been a good financial decision so far?
Bock: Working in this industry has been a great decision for me personally on all fronts. I have always enjoyed working with companies in innovative industries and I believe the cannabis industry will soon become one of the largest in the country. While there have definitely been ups and downs from a production standpoint since working in this industry, I can say it has been net positive from a financial standpoint and can only continue to go up.
As the industry itself matures and the insurance industry begins to understand it more and more, the opportunities for growth will only continue to increase. Like any other young industries, you have to take a long-term view in order to be successful, which is how our team views any downs we experience.
IJ: What’s the hardest thing about the cannabis industry to deal with?
Bock: The cannabis industry is a very small place for now and as such it is more of a community than anything else. While this definitely makes it one of the most enjoyable industries to work in, it also proved to be one of the hardest aspects of it early on – and even to this date.
As we work in an ancillary business line from the core aspects of the industry, it is continually hard to prove that we are part of the community, not just looking to exploit it. We have worked extremely hard to make ourselves a very active member of the cannabis community outside of just our job as an insurance brokerage, joining a number of communities to better ingrain ourselves. This has proven to be a successful approach for us thus far allowing us to place coverage for our large MSO clients and speak to them knowledgeably on all aspects of the business, as well as connect with those small shops/brands who are just starting out.
IJ: What insurance product is the most difficult to obtain for your cannabis industry clients? Why?
Bock: There is a bit of nuance in this question. As the cannabis industry has grown, the insurance industry has been catching up to it. At one point, it was a struggle to get even the most basic coverage for a company involved with cannabis. However, that is no longer the case as there are more carriers getting involved at this point. That said, more so than most industries, the insured’s operations, where the operate and how they operate can diminish the number of markets very quickly.
One of the most common issues we have seen as of late is obtaining full limits for high value property at a single location – typically above $30 million. There are a number of markets that can provide coverage for property at these locations, however, the overall capacity is rather low compared to more mainstream industries and can be capped as low as $2.5 million per location. This can be attributed to a number of carriers leaving the industry this year as well as COVID impacting the remaining carriers’ capacity to provide high limits.
Additionally, many carriers have stopped offering business income for the time being due to the disproportionately high number of break-ins cannabis companies have experienced during the social unrest that has gripped our country.
IJ: What two or three tips do you have for brokers entering the business of insuring cannabis?
Bock: Ingrain yourself in the industry. Do not just understand the insurance aspect, gain an understanding and appreciation for the cannabis industry as a whole. Be a teacher. Explain to your clients why each coverage is important specifically as it relates to their operations within the space.
Many cannabis companies that are just starting out may not have a ton of insurance purchasing experience, so it is important to educate them on how they should be structuring their risk management program as they continue to grow.
Was this article valuable?
Here are more articles you may enjoy.