21 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — One of the largest insurance companies in the Netherlands, Interpolis, has come out in favour of providing insurance cover for illegal cannabis-growing operations that supply drugs sold in the country's tolerated coffeeshops.

Speaking at a conference for illegal cannabis cultivators in the southern Dutch city Tilburg, Interpolis director Alof Wiechmann called for a certificate system for growers.

He said his company would only want to provide insurance policies to growers who operated in a safe manner.

"If I have tomato growers as clients, why am I not allowed to insure cannabis growers?" Wiechmann asked rhetorically. He also noted that Interpolis included several coffeeshops among its client base.

Wiechmann said his company was primarily concerned about safety issues. Illegal cannabis operations, often hidden in the attics of old houses, are a notorious fire hazard.

Cannabis growers often tamper with electrical systems to steal power for the strong lamps needed to help cultivate the illegal crops. Faulty or old wiring can and often does spark fires.

Interpolis expects EUR 6 million worth of claims this year alone relating to damage caused by illicit and concealed cannabis farms. When the sums are totted up for all Dutch insurers, the amount comes to EUR 60 million. 

Currently, Interpolis policy-holders caught cultivating cannabis commercially risk losing their insurance cover and they don't get a pay out if their illegal operation damages their own property.