Hawaii Lawmakers Move to Improve Home Insurance Access

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  • Home insurance costs are a major issue in most parts of the country where consumers are at higher risk for being hit with a major disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake. However, they may be particularly concerning in Hawaii, because some island residents live under threat of volcanic eruption and therefore have extreme difficulty finding reasonable home insurance coverage in many cases. Now, lawmakers in the Aloha State are working to improve the access their constituents might have. That, in turn, could provide insurance agents a greater chance to connect with would-be clients in the affected areas.

    Last September, the Hawaii Property Insurance Association placed a moratorium on new home insurance policies in the lower Puna area that was affected by a volcanic eruption the previous June, according to a report from the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Now, state lawmakers in both houses of the legislature have passed bills that would lift that moratorium and restore about 95 percent of canceled plans to consumers in the affected “lava zones.” If signed by Gov. David Ige soon, the law would go into effect on July 1.

    What’s at stake for residents?
    While the lava flow began in June, it’s still active to this day, the report said. To date, it has traveled about 14 miles, but hasn’t advanced much in the last month and a half or so. Experts characterize its movement at this point as “small and advancing sluggishly.” Nonetheless, more homes could be at risk if things were to change suddenly.

    “This is a very important bill not just for Puna but the Big Island,” Sen. Russell Ruderman, who sponsored the Senate bill, told the newspaper. “Without some sort of insurance protection, we would see property values fall; we are going to see county real property tax collections fall.”

    The more that home insurance agents can do to help clients understand coverage and what their policies do and don’t cover, the better off all involved are likely to be. Increased certainty among homeowners will probably go a long way toward improving their satisfaction and knowledge of their plans, and that, in turn, is good news for agents. Smart clients are typically happy clients, and that leads to higher customer satisfaction rankings and retention rates. Studies have repeatedly shown that consumers actually value a good working relationship with their insurers than they do the ability to save money on such plans.