Better insurance disclosure bill tabled

HILO — A state Senate committee tabled a bill last week aimed at improving insurance disclosure for homeowners.

Senate Bill 356 would have required insurers to provide written and oral disclosure of which natural disasters are not covered by the policy.

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It was referred to a single committee — Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health — which deferred it on Friday. The bill would be dead for the session unless resurrected in another form.

The bill appears to be intended to increase transparency with policies following last year’s Kilauea eruption, that destroyed 716 homes in lower Puna. Numerous policy holders have gone to court over denials.

However, the bill was opposed by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and insurance companies.

In his written testimony, state Insurance Commissioner Colin Hayashida said the written disclosures would be unnecessary and redundant since policies include a section on what is excluded from the policy.

“In addition, the department will be unable to enforce the requirement that insurers orally disclose to named insureds the perils not covered by their policies, as producers and agents, rather than insurers, explain policy coverages and exclusions to policyholders,” he said.

Hayashia said the department is willing to work with lawmakers on addressing concerns behind the legislation.

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Sen. Stanley Chang introduced the bill, along with co-sponsors Sens. Kai Kahele, Dru Kanuha, Russell Ruderman, Rosalyn Baker and Lorraine Inouye.

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

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