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Hurricanes And Floods: What You Should Know

Hawaii Hurricanes & Floods 

Kim Li Hurricane and Flood

By: Kim Li, Senior Sales Account Manager 

The hurricane season in Hawaii officially starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th each year. Although deadly storms have been recorded making landfall outside of the season, historically all named hurricanes have fallen within this period.

Hurricanes are declared a “hurricane” and given a name only by the National Weather Service, and unfortunately, damages resulting from the hurricane are excluded from most homeowner’s insurance policies. You can, however, purchase coverage through a separate hurricane insurance policy or as an additional coverage on their homeowner’s policy.

Although Hawaii is considered a low risk for hurricanes compared with many other coastal U.S. states, your mortgage company will require you to obtain coverage to protect their interest in your property. For homeowners whose homes are owned outright, insurance coverage is optional but certainly recommended. For example, Hurricane Iniki which affected Hawaii in 1992, caused over $1.6 billion in damages which translates to over $3 billion in today’s dollars.

Iniki, a category four hurricane, caused major damage to Kauai and areas of Oahu with 160 mph winds and was responsible for six fatalities.

Floods in Hawaii

A flood is defined as a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land, or 2 or more properties, are inundated by water or mudflow. Since a flood can happen anywhere, every building is in a flood zone.

Although properties in Zone X represent a low to moderate risk for flooding, more than 20 percent of flood insurance claims and more than one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance dollars were paid for flood damage in this flood zone. Although hurricane risks in Hawaii are moderate to low, the state has had its fair share of damage due to flooding. Whenever there is heavy rain activity, parts of the island are susceptible to flash floods. Heavy rain activity can turn a small river into a raging one that sweeps away everything in its path.

In March of 2006, a six-week long rainy period resulted in flooding in several places. On Kauai, a flash flood caused a dam to break and killed seven people. Also, on Oahu, heavy rain caused the Waikiki sewer system to fail and overflow, resulting in an enormous spill of sewage that polluted the island’s south shore for several days.

Hawaii Flood Insurance

The good news is that those in flood zone X can purchase a preferred risk flood policy for $450 per year. The policy provides $250,000 in dwelling/building coverage and $100,000 in contents coverage. This is a very reasonable amount to pay for this valuable protection from flood damage.

It’s important to note that damage to your home and contents is excluded in a traditional homeowners policy. It’s also important to note that unless your mortgage company is requiring a flood policy at closing, there is a thirty day waiting period before coverage will go into effect.

Knowing that the risk of flooding in Hawaii is very high and that all homes are located in a flood zone, it makes perfect financial sense to get your flood policy in place before a flood causes damage to your most valuable asset and your personal belongings inside.

Contact a Personal Lines Specialist

For any questions, please reach out to Kim via phone at 808-533-8747 or email at kli@atlasinsurance.com.

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