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Maunaloa eruption serves as reminder to review insurance coverage

A lava flow on May 6 moves across Makamae Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa on the island of Hawaii. Kilauea volcano has destroyed more than two dozen homes since it began spewing lava hundreds of feet into the air last week.
U.S. Geological Survey via AP
FILE - A lava flow on May 6, 2018, moves across Makamae Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pāhoa on the island of Hawaiʻi.

Lava output and gas emissions from Fissure 3 atop Maunaloa continue, but at a greatly reduced output, according to the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense. Due to the slowdown in the eruption, Hawaiʻi County canceled a media briefing Monday morning and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reduced the alert level from “Warning” to “Watch.”

While the eruption doesn’t currently pose a threat to any homes or structures, it does serve as a reminder for Hawaiʻi Island property owners to review their insurance coverage. During the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, over 700 homes were lost or damaged after being overrun by lava or catching fire. Several of those homeowners ended up taking insurance companies to court after initially being denied claims.

Sam Thomsen is the head of the Compliance and Enforcement Branch of the Hawaiʻi Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. He encouraged homeowners to review their insurance policies to make sure they are covered if lava starts to threaten neighborhoods.

"Make sure you understand your policy and that it's up to date. So it doesn't hurt to meet with your agent periodically, once a year, maybe two years," Thomsen said. "Talk to the agent about your situation, things may have changed, things may need to be updated."

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 12, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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