Fatherly Advice – Hawaiian Style Home Insurance

Pictured home: 14-3497 Lehua Rd. Pahoa, HI 96778

My father loved football. At 5’3” he was built more like a chest freezer than an actual football player but it didn’t seem to deter him. One of my favorite stories involves a group of his football buddies who rounded the corner one day to find him with a flat tire on a flatbed full of ice. They asked if he needed help. He told them that he would lift the truck if they could just put the tire one. He was tough. Few people crossed him and he was very effective if you were on the receiving end of his belt. Here’s the thing. When he spoke, we listened. He talked a great deal about football, fishing and, more practically, insurance. He often repeated the adage that “the time to get insurance is when you don’t need it”.

If you have been on the Big Island long enough, you know that insurance changes can be unpredictable. When a disaster occurs, we’ve learned to expect some kind of change about a year later. Finding proper coverage can be challenging.


Some years ago, finding coverage in Lava Zones 1 & 2 became almost impossible. Values today far exceed the $350,000 limit on the old State guaranteed plan created to fill this void. Owners must choose expensive alternative coverage…if you can find one. In zone 3 (Hilo, Keaau to Ainaloa) my own carrier, USAA, traditionally among the most liberal, stopped writing new policies years ago. Heck, I can recall when State Farm and Allstate would write policies in lava zones 1 & 2. Not gonna happen!


Condo owners should be aware that a new law requires insurance for the interior of your unit. Zephyr Insurance, our major source for hurricane policies in the State of Hawai`i, will not write new coverage for single wall homes or homes built prior to 1981 which have not been retro-fitted with hurricane straps. Additionally, the change affected homes within 2,500 ft of the ocean, unless the vertical distance justifies an exemption. Many carriers aren’t licensed in Hawai`i. but so far lenders have accepted the coverage.


Remember, flood and hurricane coverage require a waiting period. If a disaster is imminent, a freeze will be placed on new policies. This affects upcoming closings. No one wants to see a sale fall apart because of confusion regarding insurance. Check availability early!

Father Knows Best

So take some timely advice from the star guard of the 1932 Columbia County Tigers, William Edward “Shorty” Sheppard, “Don’t wait until the day you need coverage to apply!” Miss you Pepa! Happy Father’s Day!!!

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at denise@hawaiilife.com or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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