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Hawaiians Buy a Separate Hurricane Policy to Supplement their Home Insurance Policy
NEW YORK, August 8, 2014 —Tropical Storm Iselle and Hurricane Julio are bringing heavy rains and strong winds to Hawaii through Sunday, highlighting the need for having the right coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
“Hurricane Iniki caused about $1.6 billion in insured losses when it struck Hawaii in 1992 so there is historical precedent for what we’re seeing this week in the eastern Pacific,” stated Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the I.I.I. and an economist. A $1.6 billion loss in 1992 is equal to $2.7 billion in 2014 dollars, Dr. Hartwig added.
Iniki was a Category 4 hurricane and caused much more widespread damage in Hawaii than either Hurricane Iwa (1982) or Dot (1959), according to this U.S. Department of Homeland Security assessment of the state’s most notable weather events.
“When Hurricane Iniki struck Hawaii in September 1992, it was the third costliest hurricane ever to impact the United States in terms of insured losses,” Dr. Hartwig said. “Iniki’s damages at the time were exceeded only by Hurricane Andrew, which had struck south Florida just weeks earlier, and Hurricane Hugo, which made landfall in South Carolina in September 1989.”
A hurricane is defined as a tropical storm which has achieved sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour. In Hawaii, most homeowner insurance policies provide property coverage for almost all standard perils (e.g., fire, explosion) and liability but exclude hurricanes.
Homeowners and renters must purchase hurricane, flood, and earthquake coverage separately to protect themselves in Hawaii from those specific natural disasters, and to supplement their home insurance policy. The trigger for what constitutes a hurricane varies from insurer to insurer, and may depend on variables such as where the storm made landfall, and whether a hurricane watch or warning had been declared by the National Weather Service.
Most U.S. natural disasters involve flooding, and standard homeowners and renters policies do not cover flood-caused damage. Only a flood insurance policy, available through the federal government and some private insurers, can protect a homeowner, renter, or business from the flooding that a tropical storm, or hurricane, may cause.
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The I.I.I.’s free mobile apps can help you create a disaster plan, learn about selecting the right insurance for your needs and budget, and create and maintain a home inventory. Learn more about our suite of apps here.
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