Can you get volcano insurance?
Volcanic activity from the Kilauea eruption in Hawaii has lessened, but the region is still plagued by aftershocks, lava flow and hazardous fumes. On the eastern side, about 35 properties were destroyed according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency. More than 1,700 people were evacuated. Fortunately, nobody was injured.
There isn’t such a thing as volcano insurance or lava flow insurance, due to the infrequency of the natural disaster. However, this doesn’t mean that residents of the area are not covered. It depends on the policy they have and what it entails. The Insurance Information Institute has compiled a list with what is covered in this case, and what isn’t.
• Most home, renters and business insurance provide coverage for property loss caused by volcanic eruption when it’s the result of volcanic blast, airborne shockwaves, ash, dust or lava flow. Fire and explosion resulting from volcanic eruption are also covered.
• If vandalism or theft occur due to looting when residents were evacuated, the stolen goods will also be covered.
• In case of business insurance, there is typically a 72-hour waiting period before business interruption coverage kicks in.
• Damage to vehicles caused by lava flow is covered under the comprehensive auto insurance, as is direct, sudden damage to engines from volcanic ash or dust.
• Damages inflicted by earthquakes, land tremors, landslide, mud flow or other earth movement, regardless of whether the quake is caused by or causes a volcanic eruption, are usually not covered by the standard home, renters and business insurance policies. Earthquake insurance can be purchased from private insurers as an endorsement to an existing homeowner’s policy.
• Land, trees, shrubs, lawns, property in the open or open sheds (and their contents) damaged by the above-mentioned perils are typically not covered.
• Removing ash from personal property is another thing not covered by the insurance policy unless the ash first causes direct physical loss to personal property. There is also no coverage to remove ash from surrounding land.
• Volcanic Effusion, or volcanic water and mud, is not covered under the standard homeowners, renters or business insurance policy. This type of damage falls under the coverage from flood insurance, available through the National Flood Insurance Program.
At the time being, there is no exact number of the impacted property owners holding an insurance policy. At the same time, nobody knows how long the eruption will continue—back in 1955, the Kilauea volcano erupted for roughly three months. The Big Island was also impacted by a 6.9-magnitute earthquake on May 4, the strongest one to hit Hawaii in more than 40 years.