Natural Disasters

Will insurance cover people who lost homes to Kilauea volcano?

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Kilauea volcano

Kilauea Volcano erupting lava into Pacific Ocean, Big Island, Hawaii. Shutterstock

Homeowners who lost their homes because of the eruption of the Kilauea volcano may not be covered for the loss, even if they have insurance.

The coverage, of course, varies with the policy, report USA Today, CNN and Hawaii News Now.

Some insurance companies don’t offer policies to homeowners in the highest-risk zones. The Hawaii Property Insurance Association, a nonprofit created by the state legislature, provides basic coverage for people who can’t buy insurance in the private market. Uninsured property owners in the area of the eruption will be able to buy coverage through the nonprofit—but not for six months.

People who do have private insurance coverage may not have paid the high price to obtain protection from lava damage. But what about fire damage caused by lava? The Hawaii Insurance Department says homeowners may be able to recover under “fire peril” coverage.

But insurance broker Judy Moa told USA Today that insurance policies which exclude lava damage would not cover a fire caused by lava. “If lava came down the hill, and they have lava exclusion and trees catch fire, which burn the house, that’s not covered,” she said.

State Farm stopped writing homeowners’ policies in the two highest-risk lava zones in the 1990s, but it grandfathered in people with existing policies. State Farm policies do cover fire from volcanic activity, but each claim has to be looked at individually, according to a State Farm sales executive who spoke with USA Today.

Allstate insurance agent Marc Dixon told Hawaii News Now that insurance policies may cover fire due to lava, but most would not cover earthquake damage from a volcano.

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