Insurance snag could keep canoe clubs statewide on land
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Next year's regatta season for local canoe clubs may be in jeopardy because the parent association is having trouble finding an insurance company to cover them.
The Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association's current insurance policy is set to expire in two weeks, and paddlers say the group is having trouble getting coverage because of lawsuits from past accidents involving escort boats.
In one accident last year, a woman was nearly killed by a propeller during a race.
The clubs say the uncertainty is already affecting upcoming races.
"In the Na Opio season, there's 700 plus paddlers that participate in regatta racing. It's in the talks about canceling the first two races so we can try to salvage the season," said Gino Dayton, head coach of the Keola O Ke Kai Canoe Club.
The news saddened the middle and high school paddlers who compete.
"Na Opio is a big thing to the little kids nowadays that paddle. If they don't have anything to practice for or anything to do, it also puts them in a predicament of what are they going to do," said youth paddler Shaira Salvador.
Dayton says without insurance, many clubs statewide will be forced to stop practices, races, even fundraisers starting January 1 because of liability.
"Yeah we're in jeopardy right now. Without the liability insurance, it affects how we operate. We can't do certain things," said Dayton.
Some clubs say not having insurance could also affect their halau -- the structures where they store their canoes and gear -- because they need insurance to get a government permits for the space.
HCRA says its actively looking for a solution.
"We're working hard to get the appropriate insurance put in place so that by January 1 we can put this issue to rest. But I have no comment other than that," said HCRA president Walter Vierra.
Paddlers say instead of an umbrella insurance policy that covers everyone, there have been talks about each club getting its own coverage.
But some say that would be way too expensive.
"It's the kids, the students, that's going to eat the cost because somebody's going to have to pay for it. So their registration fees or their dues are gonna go up," Dayton said.
If the insurance issue isn't resolved, there are also concerns that it would impact not only the small regattas, but also the big headline races like the Molokai Hoe.
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