East Hawaii News

It’s Hurricane Season — Time to Check Insurance Coverage

July 2, 2013, 11:35 AM HST
* Updated July 2, 11:36 AM
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The Insurance Division of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is reminding the public that with the onset of hurricane season on June 1, it is a good time to review hurricane insurance coverage.

State officials note that basic home insurance does not cover hurricane damage and homeowners typically must purchase hurricane insurance separately. Also, banks usually require hurricane insurance as a condition of mortgage.

Also, not all wind damage is covered by hurricane insurance. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service must declare a wind-related event to be a hurricane for this coverage to become available, they said.

Officials said hurricane policies will cover water damage resulting from wind-related impairment of the home’s exterior. One example would be if hurricane debris punctures the roof and rain water flows into your living room.

Other types of water damage, such as storm surge, cascading water or rising streams, are not covered by hurricane or homeowners insurance. Flood insurance provides coverage for these other exposures.

State Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito notes that the last hurricane that hit Hawaii, Hurricane Iniki in 1992, caused damage totalling nearly $2 billion, or about $3 billion in today’s dollars. Kauai suffered the brunt of the damage.

“It can take just one major storm to cause severe property damage, and we urge you to be prepared,” Ito said.

Officials suggested a policy review that includes discussing the following topics with your insurance agent:

  • Is the home listed as having single-wall, double-wall or masonry construction
  • Does it have hurricane straps or clips
  • Does the insurer provide premium credits for such mitigating devices and did the agent check for this
  • Is the home insured for replacement value or actual cash value

All of these things can dramatically affect the cost of hurricane insurance, officials said.

Residents are encouraged to shop around for coverage, which can include consulting the Insurance Division’s premium publication, a “quick reference guide” that assists consumers in shopping for homeowners’ and hurricane insurance.

The premium publication is available at http://hawaii.gov/dcca/home_rates/home-insurance-rate-comparison.html.

Additionally, consumers and businesses should ensure they have proof of assets owned to prevent obstacles in submitting claims.

That includes taking an inventory of possessions and making sure these assets are covered under the policy. Officials suggest taking photos of belongings such as jewelry, electronics, appliances, sports equipment and even art work and decorations.  Gather any receipts and serial numbers as well, and keep all of the information in a secure location.

To assist in the inventory process, download the National Association of Insurance Commissioners app myHOME Scr.APP.book for iPhone or Android for assistance in cataloging belongings. To learn more about the app, visit http://www.insureuonline.org/home_inventory_page.htm.

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