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

cannabisSalmon Arm

 

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

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

18-year-old skier Logan Leach follows his guide, Julien Petit, down an alpine track. The Lumby athlete who is visually impaired has been named to Alpine Canada’s Ski Team ahead of the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (Contributed)
Lumby’s Logan Leach named to national ski team

The 18-year-old visually impaired athlete officially joins Canada’s Para-Alpine roster ahead of Beijing 2022

Sovereign Lake Nordic Club is the first ski area in Canada to signify its commitment to ending working poverty, by paying all its staff and contracted workers a living wage. (Contributed)
Vernon ski area first in Canada to pay living wage

Sovereign Lake Nordic Club invests in staff and contracted workers

Fair-goers take a ride at the 120th annual Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede Aug. 28-Sept. 1, 2019. (Katherine Peters - Morning Star)
Armstrong’s IPE not eligible for COVID-19 grant designed for major attractions

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo criticized the rigidity of the provincial program’s criteria

A young child has been taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on 30th Avenue in Vernon Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Child struck by vehicle in downtown Vernon

The young child has been taken to hospital with unknown injuries following the incident on main street

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

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)
Naramata community in shock as condolences pour in for homicide victim Kathy Richardson

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

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Most Read