Price tag for back-to-back natural disasters unlikely to hurt state's economy

(Image: Lace Andrews)
(Image: Lace Andrews)
(Image: Apau Hawaii Tours)
(Image: Apau Hawaii Tours)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - During the past month, back-to-back natural disasters have destroyed hundreds of homes on three different islands in Hawaii.

"We had torrential flooding that happened a couple of weeks ago, we have earthquakes now. We have volcanoes," said Marc Dixon, an insurance agent with Allstate Insurance Co.

But while the Big Island lava flow and the historic flooding on Oahu and Kauai have stretched emergency management resources thin, experts said the events are unlikely to disrupt Hawaii's economy or the local insurance market.

So far, the financial toll from the flooding and lava is at least $22 million — and that's a very conservative figure.

By contrast, damages from larger natural disasters like hurricanes can hit the billions of dollars and can de-stabilize the local insurance industry.

For instance in 1992, Hurricane Iniki destroyed thousands of homes and caused more than $3 billion in damage. The heavy financial toll also forced major insurers pulled out of the market.

Only after the government set up the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fun to sell hurricane insurance, did many of these private carriers return.

"Actually, hurricanes … are more of a scare for us in the industry. Everybody is on edge," said Sharilyn Tanaka, vice president at Atlas Insurance Agency.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.