Cannabis Transportation Insurance Is Near Impossible — But This Broker Got It Done
As medical and recreational marijuana legalization swept the country in 2018, growers, distributors and their brokers had one major question: How are we going to get commercial auto insurance to cover this?
The potential for theft and the federal prohibition of cannabis made transporting cannabis a risk many commercial auto insurers didn’t want to take on, and brokers were balking at how to find coverage for their clients.
Maron Impagliazzo, vice president at EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants, wouldn’t take no for an answer. He worked to secure coverage for his client, cannabis distributor Rise Logistics, placing them among the first distributors in the state of California to receive a motor carrier filing permit and earning Impagliazzo a 2019 Power Broker award.
An Unlikely Road to an Insurance Career
While Impagliazzo has enjoyed his career as a broker, he did not initially imagine working in insurance. As a college student, he knew he wanted a career in sales, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to sell.
“I knew I wanted to sell something, but I had no idea what I was going to sell,” Impagliazzo said.
Inspiration came while he was working at a pizza restaurant while still in school.
A regular customer asked him what his plans were for after graduation. When Impagliazzo said he didn’t know, the customer, who was the chief marketing officer for Philadelphia Insurance Companies, suggested he consider a job in insurance.
“He basically hired me on the spot,” Impagliazzo said.
During his first year in insurance, Impagliazzo made 90 outbound calls a day. After his first year, the company moved him to Concord, California and he later took a job at a small brokerage and then joined EPIC.
“My specialty really was cold calling, and I was really good at it because I have no fear,” he said.
Shifting Gears to Transportation
Impagliazzo shifted into transportation when, after about four years at EPIC, he began to struggle with his career.
“I was kind of floundering. I really didn’t have any help,” he said. “And I was having these conversations where people said, ‘Maybe insurance isn’t the career for you. Maybe sales and being a broker isn’t the right fit.’ ”
During this time, Allen Amos, a senior principal at EPIC and a 2012 Power Broker, asked him whether he had any interest in learning trucking insurance. Impagliazzo decided to give it a shot.
“I remember saying, ‘I’ll learn anything at this point,’ ” he said.
When he first started working with trucking insurance, Impagliazzo asked Amos for a list of people to call and he refused. Instead, he had Impagliazzo shadow him as he met with clients, then he handed off a couple of smaller accounts and gave him a list of people to call.
“He’s the reason I got into it, and I thank him every day,” Impagliazzo said. “I thank him for reaching out to me and changing the trajectory of my career, because I would have never picked transportation.”
Once in transportation, Impagliazzo found his niche as a broker.
“Transportation’s always challenging, which is what makes it really fun,” he said. “No two accounts are exactly the same. They can do the exact same thing, but everybody has different challenges.”
Getting Cannabis on the Road
While transportation insurance poses unique challenges, Impagliazzo approaches each situation with the attitude that anything is possible.
“I love hunting down new clients. I like the first meetings and talking to them and trying to feel out what their challenges are. I like to take on those challenges that the other brokers maybe haven’t been addressing. The client might think for years that this is ‘just the way it is.’ But helping them bring solutions to those challenges is really exciting,” he said.
Finding a commercial auto insurer for Rising Logistic so that they could distribute marijuana was one of those challenges for Impagliazzo.
“Nobody wanted it, it was the beginning of cannabis, all of the big insurance carriers wouldn’t touch it because of the federal illegal status. My team and I thought on our feet in that situation,” Impagliazzo said.
In the end, he was able to find Rising Logistic a policy through the Assigned Risk Pool and he helped them through the application, which was much more difficult than the process for a typical auto policy.
Managing these challenging claims may be exciting, but it is through the people he meets and works with that Impagliazzo finds the rewards of his career.
“You meet a lot of great people, you hear a lot of great stories about how they built their company, and that’s cool. And you make friends along the way, and all that’s really the exciting part about being a broker,” Impagliazzo said.
He’s also proud of his work’s ability to inspire others, especially his young son.
“One of his homework things was, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ And he said he wanted to insure Legos. He loves Legos and he wants to insure Legos. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of,” he said. &