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State insurance officials ask companies not to drop coverage in wake of fires | News, Sports, Jobs

A general view shows the aftermath of a devastating wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

State insurance officials are asking companies not to drop coverage in the wake of devastating wildfires in Maui and Hawaii counties that have killed at least 115 in Lahaina and destroyed thousands of structures in both Upcountry and West Maui.

The fires destroyed records and prevented access to the resources necessary for insured residents to make premium payments or to submit claims, the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs said.

To provide the Maui community time to heal and to ease its burden, the state insurance commissioner issued a memo encouraging all admitted and nonadmitted insurers in the state to work with insured residents to continue coverage during recovery efforts.

“We are asking insurers to refrain from cancelling or non-renewing policies, to grant a grace period for premium payments, and to work with their insureds,” Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito said in a news release Monday. “Communication between insurers and insureds is key to the recovery process. Therefore, we are asking the insurance companies to work with their insureds to make sure their coverage continues during this difficult time for a period of 60 days or longer.”

The memo also asks that insurers extend the time frame to complete property and automobile inspections or to undergo medical exams.

The Hawai’i Insurance Division also issued a declaration authorizing the temporary assistance of nonresident independent adjusters to operate in the state. This will help insurance companies and adjusting firms handle the volume of claims that is anticipated as a result of the wildfires in both counties, the department said.

Anyone who has sustained a loss should contact their agent or insurance company as soon as possible and file a claim with the agent or company by visiting their website or calling their local or toll-free number.

When contacting the agent or insurance company, residents should:

• Ask whether the policy provides for additional living expense that covers temporary shelter expenses. Keep all hotel and meal receipts.

• Ask if the policy covers the cost of housing as they rebuild.

• Go over the claims procedure.

• Review the forms they need to fill out.

• Find out how much time they have to file the claim.

• Ask if a copy of the policy can be emailed if they do not have it already.

“One of the most pressing needs families will face is finding temporary housing,” Ito said. “Homeowners and renters insurance policies may provide coverage for additional living expenses if a covered loss makes your home uninhabitable.”

The Hawai’i Insurance Division is available to provide in-person support at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Resource Center located at the University of Hawai’i Maui College. To contact the insurance division, call (808) 586-2790 or email insurance@dcca.hawaii.gov.

For insurance resources and more information on navigating the insurance claims process when dealing with fire and disaster claims, visit cca.hawaii.gov/fireclaims.

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