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Hawaiʻi fires and what insurance covers when a fire strikes

HONOLULU (KHON2) — With the devastation being wreaked on Maui likely estimating into the billions of dollars, insurance response is on everyone’s minds.

The impact of the fires will span across all aspects of life: home, boat, vehicle, business, property, medical, renters and travel. There is no part of life that will not bear the brunt of what is taking place on Maui.

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For situations like what occurred in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast in 2005, insurance companies refused to pay out to policyholders, forcing millions to sue.

However, times have changed; and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association wants Maui residents, business owners and visitors to know that.

“The overwhelming priority of insurers when disaster strikes is to help their customers rebuild their lives and restore their property. Insurers are ready to help policyholders get their immediate needs taken care of and start the recovery process as soon as the flames are extinguished,” said Karen Collins, APCIA vice president, property & environmental.

APCIA is out working to ensure that those who have insurance on Maui understand that they have options.

“Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by these terrible wildfires. The first step towards recovery is to file a claim.  Insurance carriers are ready to help Hawaii residents and travelers visiting the Islands,” said Collins.

At this point, so few have access to their belongings in the fire struck regions of Maui. But, APCIA is encouraging everyone impacted to go ahead and begin setting up your claim with your insurance provider.

“Communication is limited right now, but insurers are ready to start claims as soon as policyholders can make contact,” added Collins.

So, what do you need to know as you are in a difficult situation with few resources with which you are familiar and what is covered? APCIA offered these tips for those who have auto, boat, business, homeowners or travel insurance policyholders:

  1. Contact your insurer to get the claims process started. 
  2. Auto Insurance.
    • If your car was destroyed in the wildfires and you have comprehensive coverage, then your company will work with you to file a claim and get you the benefits of your policy.
  3. Boat/Marine Insurance
    • If your boat was damaged or destroyed in the wildfires, then contact your boat insurer to file a claim.
  1. Business Property Insurance
    • Businesses that have business property coverage should make a list of their inventory that has been destroyed. 
    • If your business has been closed due to wildfires or loss of power, then you may have business interruption coverage available under your policy.
    • Talk to your agent or company.
  2. Homeowners.
    • Discuss coverage for temporary housing with your insurer.
    • Your insurance may pay for temporary shelter immediately; and if your property is damaged, then your coverage will help cover the cost of housing while you rebuild.
    • Homeowners and renters insurance policies generally provide coverage for additional living expenses if a covered loss makes your home uninhabitable.
    • Keep your hotel and meal receipts.
    • If you own and rent out a secondary home that has been affected, then talk to your agent or company on coverage you may have available under a landlord policy.
    • This might include loss of rental income while the home is repaired.
  3. Travel Insurance.
    • Tourists on vacation in Maui are being asked to move to another island or return home. 
    • If you purchased travel insurance, then contact your insurer for assistance and to ensure you know what documentation you will need to file a claim.
    • Save your receipts for additional expenses you incur.

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“APCIA is the primary national trade association for home, auto, and business insurers. We promote and protect the viability of private competition for the benefit of consumers and insurers, with a legacy dating back 150 years,” explained Collins. “APCIA members represent all sizes, structures, and regions—protecting families, communities and businesses in the U.S. and across the globe.”

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