When you think about living in Hawaii, beautiful sandy beaches would be the hot topic of any conversation unless, of course, you’re searching for cheap insurance plans.
A home on the beach is more risky for an insurance company to insure and is therefore more expensive due to the potential for hazards such as coastal erosion, flooding, tsunami and possible hurricane damage. However, you don’t have to avoid the beaches if you want affordable Hawaii home insurance. Here are a few steps to get a discount.
- Adhere to Shoreline Setback Regulations — A setback is a legal mandated buffer between the certified shoreline and the depth of your lot at which you can build. Setback regulations differ between islands (fixed vs. variable rates), but all are designed to provide a safety buffer between a house and coastal hazards, primarily erosion.
- Pay Attention to Flood Zones — More on building in a flood zone below.
- Install a Seawall – A seawall is a vertical wall built between the ocean and the beach made out of concrete or grouted rocks.
- Create a Revetment – A revetment is a sloping wall made out of interlocking boulders not cemented together. This gives the beach a more natural look.
- Implement a Groin – A groin is a wall of rubble or rocks built perpendicular to the shoreline extending across the beach and into the ocean to trap sand. Groins are frequently used continuously along a shoreline to prevent loss of sand from a beach system.
You must apply for a permit with the DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) and your local county in order to use any of the erosion control systems outlined above, but they could end up saving you money on your home insurance. However, I think there are two very important points to be made here. One, erosion control structures that protect houses usually do so at the cost of the beach in front of them. Two, because these structures frequently cause more problems than they solve, the permitting departments at both the state and county levels have become reluctant to issue permits unless absolutely necessary.
Trust me — I’ve done doctoral research on coastal hazards here in Hawaii on these very issues and have worked with many of the people involved in these decisions. Recent research on coastal systems, climate change and the threat from coastal hazards to property, life and livelihood have led to the current paradigm of working with nature (setbacks) instead of against it (seawalls, revetments and groins), and in this matter I completely agree. For more information, contact either myself or The Coastal Geology Group at The University of Hawaii.
Hawaii Coastal Properties Require Flood Insurance
All federally backed mortgages require federal flood insurance if they are located in coastal or flood zone regions. If you plan on purchasing home insurance for Hawaii coastal property, you will be required by your lender to purchase flood insurance if you’re located in these areas.
You can save on flood insurance if you purchase a raised property. A raised property, or a property on stilts, is less likely to be damaged in a flood, and insurance companies in Hawaii will give you a nice discount for taking the extra precautions.
Federal flood insurance does have its limitations though, so be sure to research private flood insurance offered by your insurance company. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) only covers structural damage, so all of your personal items will have to be insured separately.
Also, federal flood insurance doesn’t cover long term erosion or any damage to the land caused by waves, floods, or other erosion events like tsunamis. You may need to get a separate flood insurance policy if you feel you need more coverage.
Save On Hawaii Home Insurance By Shopping Around
One of the best ways for you to save on Hawaii home insurance would be to shop around. There are many insurance providers out there, and the best way to find the best deal would be to check all available sources.
Talk to friends and family, research Hawaii insurance providers online and request a quote to determine the lowest prices. You should also review the deductibles, the exact items the plan covers and what extra coverage, such as flood insurance, would cost.
One thing I would like to mention about Hawaii coastal insurance is this — don’t go for the bargain! Due to the possibility of a major natural disaster, I would recommend you find an insurance plan that covers all possibilities, and get as much coverage as you can afford.
If you plan to live on the Hawaii coast for a long period of time, you will eventually run into some sort of natural disaster. When that time comes, you’re going to be thankful you purchased the best coverage possible.