cloudy
Saturday October 20th, 2018 3:22PM

As lava destroys Hawaii homes, owners ask: Am I covered?

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HONOLULU (AP) — Patricia Deter moved from Oregon to Hawaii to be closer to her two daughters, but the Kilauea volcano burned down her home only a month after she bought it.

Now Deter and others who have recently lost homes to the lava-spewing mountain are on an urgent quest for answers about insurance, desperate to learn whether their coverage will offer any help after molten rock wiped out most of what they owned.

The eruption has destroyed about two dozen homes in the Leilani Estates subdivision on the Big Island.

Authorities on Tuesday reported a new fissure opened in the adjoining Lanipuna Gardens subdivision, bringing the number of cracks in the ground spitting out lava and toxic gas to nearly 20 since the eruption began May 3. Another fissure that opened up last weekend was sending molten rock crawling toward the ocean at about 20 yards (18 meters) per hour. An ash plume from within Kilauea volcano's summit crater rose as high as 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) above sea level.

Few insurance companies will issue policies for homes in Leilani Estates because it is in an area deemed by the U.S. Geological Survey to have a high risk of lava.

But homeowners are not without options. One possibility is the Hawaii Property Insurance Association, a nonprofit collection of insurance companies created by state lawmakers in 1991 to provide basic property insurance for people who are unable to buy coverage in the private market.

The horror of seeing houses turned to ash has motivated some people who had no insurance to scramble to purchase a policy. The association announced last week that it would issue policies to uninsured homeowners in the affected area — but they will have to wait six months.

Some homeowners believe fire coverage will suffice for homes burned by fire from the lava. And a list of frequently asked questions from the Hawaii Insurance Division supports that idea, saying that lava damage may be covered "as a fire peril."

However, there are exceptions. If policies specifically exclude lava damage, the fire coverage will not apply, said Judy Moa, an insurance broker who specializes in catastrophic coverage for Hawaii.

"The cause of damage is lava at the end of the day," she said. "If lava came down the hill, and they have lava exclusion and trees catch fire, which burn the house, that's not covered."

Some homeowners forgo policies that include lava coverage because they can cost more than $3,000 per year, said Moa, who has fielded many calls from anxious homeowners.

The same insurance questions haunt people whose homes are standing but could still be torched by future lava flows.

Todd Corrigan and his wife left their Leilani Estates home on May 4 after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake knocked belongings off their shelves. That jolt convinced them it was time to evacuate.

Corrigan said the most stressful part of the experience might be the uncertainty about what insurance will cover. His policy will pay for damage from a fire but not from lava. His insurer also cautioned him that it will not cover damage if he has not been at home for 30 days. That requirement could be a problem if he is gone for a long time.

"You have to worry about that stress when you're trying to deal with everything else," Corrigan said.

Coverage details vary depending on policies and companies, said Insurance Division Commissioner Gordon Ito, who encouraged homeowners to contact agents to find out what is covered.

State Farm stopped writing policies for homes in the two highest-risk lava zones in the 1990s, but the company grandfathered-in any existing policies, said Kim Silva, a State Farm sales executive in Hawaii.

The policies of the company cover fire from volcanic activity, she said, "but every claim has to be handled on its own merit."

Deter's daughters live in the same area as their 88-year-old mother. They know the eruption risks, so they made sure their mother's home was covered by a policy that included lava.

The family's Hawaii-based insurance agent assured daughter Vickie Pruitt that her mother's house was fully covered for lava.

But a phone call from an adjuster on the U.S. mainland told them it looked like the damage was from an earthquake — not the lava — and that the home would not be covered.

"I'm like, 'What?'" Pruitt said. "I'm laughing hysterically. But it's not funny. It's tragic."

They were waiting for a follow-up call they hoped would provide more clarity.

___

Associated Press Writer Audrey McAvoy and Sophia Yan contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
As lava destroys Hawaii homes, owners ask: Am I covered?
Destructive lava prompts worried Hawaii homeowners to ask: Am I covered for volcanos?
9:40AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Ricketts seizes spotlight in buildup to Nebraska primary
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is touting his conservative credentials on the national stage as he prepares for re-election
9:38AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Nebraska Sen. Fischer is favorite amid plenty of opponents
Nebraska voters on Tuesday will pick US Senate nominees for both parties out of crowded fields of candidates who hope to claim the seat held by incumbent Republican Deb Fischer
9:37AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump says first lady to leave hospital in '2 or 3 days'
President Donald Trump says his wife, Melania, will be released from the hospital soon, after receiving treatment for a kidney condition the White House said is noncancerous.
9:13AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Uber shifts policy for alleged sexual misconduct on service
Uber's ride-hailing service changes US rules governing riders, drivers seeking to pursue claims of sexual misconduct
9:03AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Palestinians bury dead after bloodiest Gaza day since 2014
Palestinians bury their dead amid diplomatic fallout from single deadliest day in Gaza since 2014 war
8:51AM ( 53 minutes ago )
AP National News
The Latest: First lady to remain hospitalized 2-3 days
President Donald Trump tweets his wife, Melania, will remain hospitalized for two to three days, recuperating for undisclosed, noncancerous kidney condition
8:51AM ( 53 minutes ago )
The Latest: Greek lawmakers try to stem migrant overcrowding
Lawmakers in Greece are preparing to vote on draft legislation to speed up the asylum process for migrants and refugees and amend restrictions on the Greek islands in an effort to ease overcrowding at camps there and deport more people back to Turkey
7:51AM ( 1 hour ago )
Gaza bloodshed spurs global worry about US Mideast policies
Opening of U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem amid bloodshed in Gaza fuels global concern that U.S. policies are roiling the region
6:21AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Missouri governor no longer facing sex-related charge
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' attorneys say invasion-of-privacy case was crumbling under lack of evidence when charge was dropped; prosecutors say they'll still pursue case
12:07AM ( 9 hours ago )
Honors for Iraq vet, K-9 portrayed in film 'Megan Leavey'
A US Marine Corps veteran and the military dog she served with during the Iraq War are being inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans' Hall of Fame
12:01AM ( 9 hours ago )
The Latest: Supreme Court clears way for sports betting
The Supreme Court has cleared the way for states to legalize betting on sports, breaking a longtime ban and creating a potential financial boon for states and the gambling industry
10:54PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Putin opens bridge linking southern Russia with Crimea
President Vladimir Putin has taken the wheel of a truck to officially open the much-anticipated bridge linking Russia's south and the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014
9:06AM ( 38 minutes ago )
US retail sales rose a solid 0.3 percent in April
US retail sales rose a solid 0.3 pct. in April, a sign confident consumers are spending more
8:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
German economic growth slows in first quarter
Official data show that the German economy grew by 0.3 percent in the first quarter over the previous first-month period, a slower pace than in preceding quarters
7:54AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
US stock indexes eke out small gains after early rally fades
The major U.S. stock indexes eked out tiny gains after a late-afternoon pullback weighed on small-company shares
4:49PM ( 16 hours ago )
After an early rally, stocks hold modest gains in afternoon
U.S. stocks are holding on to slight gains in late-afternoon trading. The market had started solidly higher on hopes that the U.S. and China are making progress on trade.
3:18PM ( 18 hours ago )
Health care and energy companies help lift US stock indexes
U.S. stocks edged higher in afternoon trading as investors hope for reduced trade tensions between the U.S. and China
2:31PM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
European Central Bank chief: Reform to make euro resilient
The head of the European Central Bank is urging political leaders to repair gaps in the way the euro is set up to prevent another crisis _ including by finding money to help governments hit by deep recessions
3:09PM ( 3 days ago )
Few teeth: Trump unveils plan to reduce drug prices
Trump says long-awaited plan for reducing drug prices is most sweeping in history
3:04PM ( 3 days ago )
European Central Banker urges reforms to make euro resilient
The head of the European Central Bank is urging political leaders to make reforms to prevent a repeat of the eurozone's financial crisis _ including making money available to help member countries that run into trouble.
12:56PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Business - Financial Services
Decorated graduation caps reflect joy, angst of students
Graduating college students have long expressed their individuality by decorating their graduation caps with slogans and artwork, but a University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor says the themes have gotten more political in recent years.
12:25PM ( 2 days ago )
Trump's prescription to reduce drug prices takes small steps
Trump says long-awaited plan for reducing drug prices is most sweeping in history, but it takes small steps.
6:20AM ( 3 days ago )
Few teeth in Trump's prescription to reduce drug prices
Trump says long-awaited plan for reducing drug prices is most sweeping in history
10:41PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Family photo becomes new picture of militancy in Indonesia
A photo of an Indonesian family appears to show happiness, but has become the country's new picture of militancy after the family, including its four children, launched suicide attacks on three Christian churches
9:33AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Finland tops US, Swiss make quarters at ice hockey worlds
Finland has handed the United States its first defeat at the ice hockey world championship in a 6-2 thumping
9:31AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Bahrain revokes citizenship of 115 people in mass trial
Prosecutors in Bahrain say a court has revoked the citizenship of 115 people in a mass terrorism trial amid a years-long crackdown on all dissent in the island kingdom
9:25AM ( 19 minutes ago )
RFK Jr: Connecticut court's Skakel decision an 'exoneration'
Robert Kennedy Jr. says the Connecticut Supreme Court's ruling that struck down the murder conviction of his cousin, Michael Skakel, is effectively an "exoneration."
9:24AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Europe, Iran seek to save nuclear deal after US pullout
Major European seek to keep Iran in a landmark international nuclear agreement even after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact, promising tough economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic
9:23AM ( 21 minutes ago )