David and Laura Wilkinson are hoping to raise awareness among fellow medical cannabis growers after they attempted to renew their home insurance and were told there were no home insurance options available to them, and that they might have to be insured as a commercial operation. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

David and Laura Wilkinson are hoping to raise awareness among fellow medical cannabis growers after they attempted to renew their home insurance and were told there were no home insurance options available to them, and that they might have to be insured as a commercial operation. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Home insurers’ cannabis concerns leave Salmon Arm couple without coverage

Laura and David Wilkinson are licensed to grow more than four plants for personal medical use

When the time arrived this year for licensed medical cannabis growers Laura and David Wilkinson to renew their home insurance, they were in for a rude awakening.

The Salmon Arm couple was licensed by Health Canada on Feb. 23, 2020, to grow up to 37 cannabis plants indoors for medical purposes.

When they went to renew their home insurance, which lapsed on April 25, 2021, they were informed that because they were growing more than four plants, there was no residential insurance option available to them.

Their only avenue was insurance options available to commercial growers, which the Wilkinsons said will cost 30 to 40 per cent more.

“They have a very limited box and if you don’t fit into it, well, too bad for you. You need to go commercial and they need to find another product for you,” explained Laura.

“We’re being punished because we’re sick.”

Both happy to speak openly about their growing and use of cannabis for medical purposes, the Wilkinsons explained their plants are grown in their basement, inside high-tech tent systems that are self-contained with their own temperature and humidity controls.

The tents are safely vented outdoors.

The couple stressed this method cannot be compared to illegal in-home grows of the past that was often accompanied by mould and electrical issues.

“Most of us have this type of setup because it’s easy and there’s no damage to the house,” said Laura.

David and Laura Wilkinson’s medical cannabis is grown in self-contained vented tent systems in their basement. (Contributed)

David and Laura Wilkinson’s medical cannabis is grown in self-contained vented tent systems in their basement. (Contributed)

The Wilkinsons tried another insurance provider in Vernon and found the same roadblock.

At the recommendation of Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, they contacted the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The Wilkinsons said they were put in touch with an assessment manager who said they were among the first to raise the insurance issue.

When asked what options there are for the Wilkinsons and others in their position, an Insurance Bureau of Canada spokesperson explained by email that although it is legal for them to grow their own medicine, home cultivation of more than four cannabis plants creates concerns for potential electrical fires, water damage and mould.

In response, each insurer has different underwriting rules to assess these risks.

There are, however, “high risk” property insurers who will insure what is considered “substandard” or “high-risk business” for “an appropriate premium.”

While they could afford to go the commercial insurance route, the Wilkinsons would rather not have to.

Furthermore, they suspect there are other licenced medical cannabis growers who couldn’t afford it, and/or are in the situation where they believe their current home insurance has them covered, though it doesn’t.

“Which means there are thousands of other people like us for whom it’s going to be a rude awakening when they go to get their insurance this year and find out they can’t get it,” said Laura.

The Wilkinsons are disappointed with Canada’s insurance industry, which, they argue, is sorely lagging when it comes to assessing real-world risk related to in-home medical cannabis growing since cannabis was legalized in October 2018.

They place some of the blame for this lack of preparedness on the federal government.

“The federal government, when they set up their pot monopoly, didn’t think about anybody else but their own business…,” said David.

By sharing their story, the Wilkinsons hope to warn others who might be in their situation and, ideally, prompt change in the insurance industry.

”I like to call it – because I was in the military for 30 years – usually when you’re having things that are running ahead of everybody else, we call that ‘lead the force,’” said David.

“We are the lead-the-force people in this problem.”


lachlan@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon Armcannabis

 

David and Laura Wilkinson’s medical cannabis is grown in self-contained vented tent systems in their basement. (Contributed)

David and Laura Wilkinson’s medical cannabis is grown in self-contained vented tent systems in their basement. (Contributed)

Just Posted

A concept rendering of the proposed seven-unit, two-storey development at 1129 Riverside Ave. in Sicamous. (District of Sicamous graphic)
Proposed luxury development in Sicamous sparks parking concerns

Seven-unit commercial-residential building planned for Riverside Avenue

The Shaw Centre and the SASCU Recreation Centre are the two largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions on City of Salmon Arm properties. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
City of Salmon staff surprised COVID not cause of drop in greenhouse gas emissions

2020 sees emissions on city-owned properties decrease well below 2019 totals

Shuswap Litas and Son of Stomp head out from uptown Askew’s parking lot on Thursday, June 10, some with teddy bears and stuffies, to ride to Pierre’s Point by Adams Lake community hall to show their support for band members in the wake of the confirmation of 215 children buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap bike clubs ride to support Indigenous communities

Motorcyclists go to Pierre’s Point in solidarity with bands in wake of residential school findings

Interior Health is offering mobile vaccination clinics for the first dose only of COVID-19 vaccine in the Shuswap from June 15 to June 19h. (Interior Health image)
First-dose vaccinations for COVID-19 offered via mobile clinics in Shuswap

Clinic in Salmon Arm scheduled for June 15, other clinics in Sorrento, Malakwa, Chase

The price per litre of regular gasoline was at 145.9 cents at several gas stations in downtown Salmon Arm on June 11, 2021. (Zachary Roman - Salmon Arm Observer)
Gas prices pumped up in Salmon Arm and Sicamous

Price spikes from 131.9 to as high as 145.9 cents per litre

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a summary of this week’s biggest stories from the Okanagan-Shuswap

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

The rainbow flag flies beside the Canadian flag outside the University of the Fraser Valley’s Chilliwack campus on June 26, 2020. Monday, June 14, 2021 is Flag Day, and also June is Pride Month. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

The RCMP are asking for assistance regarding the death of Kathleen Richardson of Naramata, pictured here. Her death is believed to be related to two homicides in Naramata in May. (RCMP)
Police identify South Okanagan homicide victim as 57-year-old Naramata woman

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday

Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Kelowna General Hospital clinicians observe increase in e-scooter injuries

A report is set to go to city council next week on how the e-scooter pilot has gone thus far

Most Read