Lloyd’s of London agrees to pay lava victims, attorney says

Philip and Lanell Haysmer. Courtesy photo.
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HILO — Lloyd’s of London has agreed to pay policyholders whose claims were denied following the Kilauea eruption, according to an attorney suing the company.

Kona attorney Jeff Foster said the payments will be made to those who experienced a total loss and were denied because of controversial “lava exclusion” language. He said that should affect dozens of policyholders, with payments totaling “tens of millions” of dollars.

“It’s absolutely fantastic news for the people of Puna,” he said.

Foster said the payments follow the company losing a motion to dismiss the case in Hilo Circuit Court. He said compensation for bad faith and deceptive practices still will be sought.

Foster filed the lawsuit on behalf of Philip and Lanell Haysmer, who lost their home in Leilani Estates due to the eruption that began May 3 on Kilauea’s lower East Rift Zone. The home apparently burned from fire caused by the eruption, and their claim was denied based on “lava exclusion” language in their policy.

Foster said he has payments in his office for about a dozen clients.

“We want to make sure it does not affect our client’s claims,” he said. “Once we get assurance from the attorneys representing Lloyd’s, then these checks can be negotiated.”

The eruption destroyed more than 700 homes.

Lava was last seen inside fissure 8 in early September.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.