inhalation can cause severe medical issues both at the time of the exposure or
later in life, which involves health insurance coverage. Most of the 57 deaths following the Mount St. Helens eruption in
1980 were caused by asphyxiation due to
inhaling hot ash.
Property policies in general do not cover
earth movement, and volcanoes are no exception. Volcanoes generate tremors before,
during and after eruptions, and earthquake
insurance must be purchased separately.
An FC&S subscriber asked whether or
not lava flow was excluded based on the
landslide earth movement exclusion. The
exclusion in both the HO- 3 and the DP- 3
policies states, “Earth Movement means:
a. Earthquake, including land shock waves
or tremors before, during or after a volcanic
eruption; b. Landslide, mudslide or mudflow;
c. Subsidence or sinkhole; or d. Any other
earth movement including earth sinking, rising, or shifting caused by or resulting from
human or animal forces or any act of nature
unless direct loss by fire or explosion ensues,
and then we will pay only for the ensuing loss.
This exclusion does not apply to loss by theft.”
The answer to this question really depends on whether or not the lava causing
the damage was fresh and still in the liquid
state, or if it had solidified and formed igneous rock. In the case of fresh lava, the earthquake exclusion would not apply. In the case
of solidified lava, the earthquake exclusion
would prevent recovery for those damages.
Nationally, there are active volcanoes in
Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Kilauea on the Hawaiian Islands is the most active of the five
volcanoes that form the Hawaiian Islands,
and has been continually erupting for more
than 30 years, spewing a large lava fountain
and releasing gas and dust. The volcano is
under constant surveillance and at the first
sign of activity, residents living nearby are
asked to evacuate their homes.
When a family is asked by the authori-
ties to vacate their home, the cost of being
displaced may be covered by their home-
owners insurance policy, HO 00 03. The
Civil Authority Prohibits Use section pro-
vides coverage for additional living ex-
penses and fair rental value (as defined by
the policy) for no more than two weeks,
as long as the insured has been displaced
from the premises by a civil authority be-
cause of direct damages to a neighboring
premises as result of a covered peril. If
the lava sets neighboring homes on fire
and the authorities decide to evacuate the
area, the insured will receive living ex-
penses for up to two weeks.
Volcanoes are not your average haz-
ard; but the damage they cause, like many
other perils, is insurable.
Hannah Smith ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is
a staff writer with FC&S, the premier
resource for insurance coverage
analysis. Additional information about
FC&S Online is available at www.
ALL TYPES OF PROPERTY LOSSES SINCE 1962
RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL AND CATASTROPHIC CLAIMS
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