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Atlantic storms do not raise isle insurance rates


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POSTED: Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Question: The price of hurricane insurance has skyrocketed by hundreds of dollars in recent years. My insurance agent said it's just going to be going up because of all the hurricanes in other parts of the country. Are there any programs that give rebates for hurricane protection devices on your home? The retrofit program offered by the state expired in June. Is there anything else that I can do to lower the cost of my hurricane insurance?

Answer: Although the state's hurricane retrofit grant program has ended, you can still get premium credits from most of the companies offering hurricane insurance, said Lloyd Lim, program administrator of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Health Insurance Branch.

The premium discounts, of about 10 to 15 percent, for installing wind-resistive devices might not be huge, but over a lifetime they can add up, he said.

There's also the option of taking a higher deductible, but that's a risky option and fine as long as you don't get hit by a hurricane, Lim said.

Another riskier option is to forgo the ancillary coverage some insurance companies offer.

For example, Lim said, you might be offered Coverage A for the structure of the home, Coverage B for other structures, Coverage C for contents and Coverage D for additional living expenses.

“;Some insurers will allow you to not take the ancillary coverage, so you just cover the building,”; he explained.

But, he cautioned, that's a risky road to take in the event of a hurricane, and, “;I'm not sure one wants to give that kind of advice.”;

Other than those options, “;there's not a lot that can be done other than what the (insurance) commissioner's been doing, (which is) trying to encourage more insurers to come into the hurricane market here in Hawaii and compete based on price.”;

Lim also said hurricane damage in other states isn't necessarily the driving force behind rising hurricane insurance rates in Hawaii.

“;We have our own hurricane risk, and we have our own hurricane models,”; he said.

“;It could be that, overall, reinsurance cost is going up a little bit because of what happened in Florida or other places,”; Lim said. “;But I wouldn't say there was a direct relationship that just because something happened in Louisiana necessarily drove our rates up. We have our own risks to worry about.”;

Q: We received our economic stimulus payment from the Internal Revenue Service, but it was minus the tax we had owed. However, we paid the tax before the payment arrived. What should we do to get the difference?

A: We were advised to direct taxpayers with questions about refunds - or any other tax question - to call the IRS toll-free customer service line at (800) 829-1040, or go online at www.irs.gov.

Mahalo

To two men in a pickup truck who stopped to help this 77-year-old man who fell down a steep hill. Mahalo also to a man and young woman who took me into their home to stop my bleeding. - Tom Eguchi