'Am I covered for this': Homeowners insurance may not shell out for lava damage

Number of homes damaged by lava grows to 21
Updated: May. 6, 2018 at 11:35 AM HST
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PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Allstate insurance agent Marc Dixon represents nine households in the lava danger zone on the Big Island.

They all ask the same question: "Am I covered for this?"

The lava flow from Kilauea that has destroyed at least nine homes at the Leilani Estates subdivision is exposing a major gap in the homeowners' insurance system. Few Big Island property owners are insured for seismic or volcanic activity.

"As far as earthquake coverage or specifically named like a volcanic eruption, no most people would not have that kind of coverage," Dixon said.

But if the house burns down due to the lava, then the damage may be covered.

Jerry Bump, chief deputy insurance commissioner, said the federal or state government could step in during natural disasters like this one.

"If it declares an emergency and there are emergency funds available there's a potential where individuals can receive low interest loans from FEMA," Bump said.

For families who are worried about the potential lava threat, experts recommend contacting your insurance agent to make sure that you're properly covered. They also suggest taking an inventory of your personal belongings and having an evacuation kit that includes a copy of your insurance policy.

"You really want to talk about your insurance coverage before something happens," Dixon said, "because once it happens you can't make any changes to adjust for what just happened."

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