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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:45 p.m., Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More insurers sought to provide hurricane coverage

Advertiser Staff

State Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt is hunting for more insurers to provide hurricane coverage for homeowners after Zephyr Insurance Co. said it would restrict its business here.

Zephyr, Hawai'i's largest residential hurricane insurer, stopped issuing new policies for certain types of homes on Saturday because reinsurance availability had declined and rates had gone up.

"The over-riding reason is that they rely on reinsurance to minimize their risk," Zephyr spokeswoman Lynette Lo Tom said. "Because of Hurricane Katrina coverage is less available and more expensive."

Schmidt said he was talking with existing insurers to discuss the market and their willingness to take on new customers. He also is exploring new insurers coming here to sell the insurance.

Zephyr, which only sells hurricane insurance, said it will continue to provide coverage for its existing policy holders.

It will stop selling policies for single-wall construction homes and homes built before 1981 that haven't been brought up to the 1993 or 1994 uniform building codes when it comes to retrofitting with hurricane clips.

It also will deny polices to homeowners who live within 2,500 feet of the ocean and don't have flood insurance, Tom said.