If you’re thinking about moving to Hawaii and living on the Hawaiian Islands then you may or may not have thought about hurricanes already. Right now, we have two hurricanes (Iselle and Julio) bearing down on the Islands. While I didn’t think about hurricane insurance before, I sure as heck started thinking about it a lot this week.
After speaking to locals, watching the news and reading some history over the last week or so, I’ve learned that are two trains of thought on the Islands in regards to hurricanes, the possibility of hurricanes, how deadly and damaging hurricanes can be and if I really need to be worried.
Hurricane Train of Thoughts by Locals (The feeling on the Streets)
- Hurricanes always come to the Island, Brah! You better be ready. Get the emergency kit constructed. Tie down everything. Seek shelter in your home. Evacuate when told to. Be careful. Hurricanes to come here.
- Hurricanes always to the Islands but they always fall apart break down before they get here because of the cooler water (compared to where the storms form) and the Hawaiian winds. They come, but they’re not that big of a deal.
I found both trains of thought to be a little bit overboard. In fact, only the Hawaiian Governor has said anything on the news that I’ve heard this week that has made sense: (I’m paraphrasing) “We’ll calmly prepare for the worst. We will not over play or under play the possible impact of the hurricanes but will be cautious.”
Recent History of Hawaiian Hurricanes
So, I did a little research. Here’s what I found.
- Kauai, historically has been whopped by hurricanes. Hurricane Doy (1959), Hurricane Iwa (1982) and Hurricane Iniki (1992) all did major damage to the island.
- Oahu and Maui were hurt by Hurricane Estelle in 1986 and Oahu was clobbered in 1957 (prior to the 37 year data below) by Hurricane Nina who produced record-breaking winds upwards of 82 miles per hour.
So, what I thought I would find when doing research about Hawaii Hurricane Insurance was a lot of Insurance companies saying that everyone in Hawaii definitely needs hurricane insurance. I found that. You name the company. If they are sell insurance, then they are trying to get you to buy it.
I also thought I would find a lot of blog, government sites and others that went with train of thought number 2 where the “well, just to be safe you should have the insurance but only if you want it and live by the water.” I found some of those, too.
However, the most compelling and greatest argument was from Philip Maise of Pahoa, Hawaii. In his blog he makes one hell of an argument about whether Hawaii is actually PRONE and SUSCEPTIBLE to hurricane as described and defined by FEMA.
“Hurricane Insurance – FEMA’s Incorrect Classification of Hawaii
A base homeowner’s policy insures your home in the event of fire and a list of perils described as the “extended coverage endorsement”. Extended coverage covers in the event of windstorm, hail, explosion, civil commotion, etc. Almost all extended coverage endorsements will include coverage for hurricanes, unless, the home is in a hurricane-prone area.”
Hawaiian homeowners, even with extended coverage won’t get hurricane insurance because the Islands are in a “prone” and “susceptible” area.
From my understanding, additional coverage would have to be purchased to be covered.
However, it still comes down to whether you need Hurricane Insurance in Hawaii.
Actually, you are required to purchase it most cases!
If you want to be covered, you have to PURCHASE SPECIAL HURRICANE INSURANCE.
Lenders will force you to buy hurricane insurance. Plain and simple. Why? Because lenders are not allowed to loan to you unless those loans and the properties they are for conform to some standards.
Here’s the Fannie Mae policy to their intermediate lenders (those are the lenders that have their loans backed up and provided by the big companies like Fannie Mae)
Fannie Mae does not accept hazard insurance policies that limit or exclude damage from windstorm, hurricane, hail, or any other perils that are normally included under an extended coverage endorsement.
You should advise borrowers that if their hazard insurance includes such limitations or exclusions, they must obtain a separate policy or endorsement.
At the end of his article states this and it’s really a great read and I’ve included the article link at the very end:
“The FEMA and Hurricane Insurance Company Challenge
If your job depends on making Hawaii residents think they live in a hurricane-prone area, produce evidence. Demonstrate 110 mph + winds that hit here on a regular basis. Demonstrate wind damage during a hurricane watch or warning that justifies continued special policies. Explain why it snows in Hawaii.
You really have to read the part in the article (linked below) where he destroys the FEMA decision to place Hawaii in a prone and susceptible area. The dude really did his homework.