HONOLULU – With hurricane season in Hawaii starting June 1, now is a good time to do an insurance review. First Insurance Company of Hawaii (FICOH) reminds homeowners they need three policies – homeowners, hurricane and flood – to properly cover their home for flood and wind events.
Homeowners insurance applies if there is a tropical storm with sustained wind speeds of 73 mph or less. It would cover damage caused by high winds – such as a blown off roof or debris flung through a window – as well as subsequent water damage caused by rainwater entering your house.
Hurricane coverage comes into play when a hurricane “watch” or “warning” is issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) and ends 72 hours following the watch or warning’s cancellation for the island in question. The NWS considers a storm a hurricane if it has sustained wind speeds of 74 mph or higher. If you do not have a hurricane policy, you would have no basis for a claim for wind or rain damage caused during a hurricane. Hurricane insurance does not come with a traditional homeowners insurance policy. It is separate coverage for which you must pay extra.
Neither hurricane nor homeowners insurance covers water damage caused by tidal surges, overflowing bodies of water, or flash floods. You need flood insurance for these hazards. Think of it this way: Either homeowners or hurricane coverage protects you against wind or rain damage (depending on wind speeds as determined by the NWS), while flood insurance covers you against water flowing over the ground.
If a major storm is approaching the Islands, it could already be too late to secure the insurance you need. Most insurance carriers enact “moratoriums” on buying new policies or expanding current policies when property damage is imminent, like right before a storm. The waiting period for flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program is 30 days from the purchase date. When it comes to securing insurance, it’s important to plan ahead.
If you live in a high-risk area and would like to obtain a mortgage from any federally regulated or insured lender, you must have flood insurance. Likewise, your lender will likely require you to buy homeowners and hurricane coverage to protect their interests. Otherwise, whether you purchase these insurance coverages is up to you. Although not legally required in Hawaii, it is always a good idea to protect your investment with homeowners, hurricane and flood insurance.
In the event you experience a property loss due to a storm, it is important to have an updated inventory of all the valuables you own. This will help speed up the claims process and get every penny you’re covered for. There are a variety of mobile apps that make it easy and straightforward to catalog your belongings electronically.
For more information on homeowners, hurricane, and flood insurance, talk to your independent agent or visit https://www.ficoh.com/.
To fully prepare for hurricane season, FICOH and its partner, the American Red Cross of Hawaii, encourage residents to ready themselves for possible emergencies by visiting the Red Cross of Hawaii website for handy, and possibly lifesaving tips: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/hurricane.html.
About First Insurance Company of Hawaii
Founded in 1911, and celebrating its 111th anniversary this year, First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. is the oldest and largest property and casualty insurer domiciled in Hawaii, with assets of $677 million, liabilities of $423.7 million, and policyholders’ surplus of $253.3 million as of December 31, 2021.
First Insurance, a member of the Tokio Marine North America (TMNA) group of companies, enjoys an “A+” rating from A.M. Best Co. Proud of its broadly experienced, service-oriented staff, First Insurance employs 300 insurance professionals and distributes its products through 27 independent general agencies. First Insurance was awarded the American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Gold Achievement for 2020. In 2021, First Insurance was named Hawaii’s number one Best Places to Work in the "large company" category by Hawaii Business magazine.
First Insurance supports many local organizations through monetary donations made at the corporate level, by its associates and the First Insurance Foundation. Its charitable giving focuses on four areas: 1) family, social services and health care; 2) education and career development; 3) environment and sustainability; and 4) civic, culture and the arts.