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The most common natural disasters in Hawaii are wildfires and floods, but landslides, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes also occur in the state. Of these disasters, homeowners insurance in Hawaii only typically covers damage from wildfires.
To plan ahead for floods, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and earthquakes, Hawaii residents need additional insurance coverage for their houses.
Home and car insurance comparison app Jerry has gathered information on what homeowners insurance will—and won’t—cover in Hawaii and how you can safeguard your house if a natural disaster strikes your island.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?
Homeowners insurance can cover damage to your house, your belongings, and any loss of use, personal liability, and medical payments for others who are injured on your property. Coverage levels and named perils can differ between insurance policies.
Levels of homeowners insurance coverage
HO-1: This type of policy has the lowest amount of coverage and only covers damage to your house. Coverage for personal belongings, loss of use, personal liability, and medical payments aren’t included in an HO-1 policy, and the perils named in the policy are limited.
HO-2: For basic protection of your house and personal belongings, this type of policy will cover damage caused by named perils.
HO-3: An HO-3 policy is the most common type of homeowners insurance and includes coverage for your house, additional structures on your property, belongings, loss of use, personal liability, and medical payments.
HO-3 policies provide all-risk coverage for your home. As an open perils policy, it will cover all perils that are not listed as exclusions in your policy—but only for damage that occurs to your house.
HO-5: Providing the most comprehensive homeowners insurance coverage, an HO-5 policy provides all-risk coverage for both your house and your belongings. This high-level policy—which also includes loss of use, liability, and medical payments coverage—is the most expensive type of home insurance.
|Policy type||What’s covered||Open perils?|
|HO-1||Main structure only||Named perils only|
|HO-2||Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments||Named perils only|
|HO-3||Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments||Main structure - open perils, personal property - listed perils only|
|HO-5||Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments||Yes|
What perils are covered by homeowners insurance?
Not all policies are created equal, so you’ll want to check the fine print of your insurance policy to see what is—and isn’t—covered by your homeowners insurance.
You can typically expect the following perils to be included in your coverage:
- Riot or civil commotion
- Damage caused by vehicles or aircraft
- Theft or malicious mischief
Since HO-2 and HO-3 policies include coverage for a wider range of perils, they might also include perils that are not unusually covered by HO-1 policies such as:
- Falling objects
- Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
- Water overflow or discharge from plumbing
- Broken water heater
- Electrical surge damage
- Frozen pipes
It is important to check what perils aren’t covered in your policy to make sure you aren’t missing coverage for disasters that are common in Hawaii. It is uncommon for homeowners insurance to cover flooding and earthquakes, both of which are risks on the Hawaiian islands.
If you live in a risk area for any of these perils, you may be required by your mortgage lender to supplement your homeowners insurance with additional disaster coverages.
Key Takeaway Depending on where you live and the type of homeowners insurance policy you have, the type of coverage and perils named in your policy can differ.
Does homeowners insurance cover natural disasters in Hawaii?
As the only state that is made solely of islands, Hawaii experiences some uncommon natural disasters—like volcanic eruptions—alongside disasters that regularly impact states across the country.
The seven major inhabited Hawaiian islands have different levels of risk for different natural disasters based on their topography, location, volcanic activity, and size. Taking this into consideration, we’ll take a look at some of the most common natural disasters across the archipelago to see what is—and isn’t—included in your homeowners insurance coverage.
When you think of wildfires in the United States, you might not think of Hawaii as being at much risk of widespread wildfire damage. But with more than one-third of the state blanketed by forests, wildfires can spread quickly and do a lot of damage once they start.
Each year, about 0.5% of Hawaii is impacted by wildfire damage, which is the largest amount of fire damage in the country compared to each state’s total size.
The good news for Hawaii homeowners is that fire damage—including wildfire damage—is included in most home insurance coverage whether you have the most basic HO-1 policy or inclusive HO-5 policy.
Among Hawaii’s more unique natural disasters are volcanic eruptions. The state’s two most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, are both on the island of Hawai’i—known as the Big Island—and each erupts every two to three years.
The Hawaiian islands are currently home to five active volcanoes, with four on the Big Island and one on Maui. For residents of these islands, the risk of damage to their houses and belongings due to volcanic activity is higher than elsewhere in the state.
Due to the increased risk of damage to Hawaii homes due to a volcanic eruption, many homeowners insurance policies available in the state do not offer coverage for volcano-related damage. In case of damage from debris, explosions, or lava flows when a nearby volcano erupts, Hawaii homeowners may want to purchase additional volcano insurance.
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Floods are one of the most widespread natural disasters across the United States, and Hawaii is no different when it comes to flooding. Flood damage—including damage caused by tsunamis—is not covered by homeowners insurance policies.
Tsunamis, which are caused by volcanic activity or earthquakes on the ocean floor, sometimes occur in Hawaii. At least one tsunami warning goes out to residents and visitors of the islands most years, but tsunami waves themselves are much less common. Most flood damage in Hawaii is instead caused by flash flooding during and after storms.
Hawaii homeowners should purchase flood insurance to cover their house and belongings if they live in a low-elevation area that is at risk of flooding. Some homes in Hawaii also have flood designations if they are in risk areas, which will require the owner to have flood insurance if they have a mortgage.
Homeowners insurance in Hawaii won’t cover wind damage from hurricanes, but additional hurricane insurance is available and can provide coverage for storm-related damages.
To encourage homeowners to take measures to protect their homes from hurricane damage, many insurers will offer discounted hurricane coverage for houses in Hawaii that have wind damage prevention systems—like storm shutters and hurricane clips—installed.
A common misconception is that Kaua’i—the northernmost major island—is the only Hawaiian island that is at risk of dangerous and damaging hurricanes. However, hurricanes are increasingly causing more damage on other islands as weather patterns shift with the changing climate.
While the Hawaiian islands are far from any fault lines, the volcanic activity that first created the islands is still going strong. This underground—and often underwater—activity makes Hawaii the third most common state for earthquakes.
Though not every earthquake in Hawaii is a catastrophic high-magnitude event, some can be very damaging. According to the USGS, homes in the southern portion of the Big Island are at the most risk of earthquake damage in Hawaii.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover earthquake damage. Since earthquakes are common in Hawaii, homeowners should protect their property by purchasing earthquake coverage.
Key Takeaway Your Hawaii homeowners insurance will likely cover damage from wildfires, but other natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes will require additional insurance coverage.
How to file a homeowners insurance claim
While not every disaster that can occur in Hawaii will be covered by your homeowners insurance, many perils are covered by your policy. If a covered natural disaster damages your home or belongings, here’s how to submit a claim to your insurer:
- Document your losses. Create a list of your damaged belongings, including pictures and other specific information
- Contact your insurance company to get the claim process started. An adjuster will review the evidence to make sure your claim is valid
- Report how much you paid for each damaged item. Keeping receipts or other records of your expensive purchases can help you accurately report the cost of each item.
- Fill out the claim paperwork your insurer provides
- Meet with the adjuster to go over the damage to your house and belongings, making sure you take the time to look at every damaged room so you can get the maximum amount of money from your claim
- Do research to get repair estimates. Having accurate estimates will help you negotiate a fair amount from your insurance company to cover the repair costs
- Collect your money once the claim is settled so you can start the process of repairing your house
Knowing the terms of your homeowners insurance policy before a disaster hits will put you in the best position to quickly and easily file a claim with your insurer. That way, you can stress less and get your home repaired sooner.
How to save money on homeowners and car insurance
Though it can save you money, comparing homeowners and car insurance deals before you renew your policy each year can be time-consuming and confusing when you do the work yourself.
Luckily, by just downloading the Jerry app and answering a few simple questions, you can quickly get the best insurance deals without any of the hassles of shopping for quotes.
Jerry, a licensed insurance broker, will get you the best quotes from 50+ top insurers, take care of filling out all the paperwork when you choose the policies that are right for you, and even help you cancel your old policy.
To maximize your savings while maintaining your current coverage, Jerry can also get you bundling deals on your home and car insurance to save money on both policies.
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