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Hawaii’s coral reefs are now insured. The first policy of its kind in the nation.

<i>DLNR/KITV</i><br/>Hawaii now has a special insurance policy to protect its coral reefs
Hawaii now has a special insurance policy to protect its coral reefs

By ‘A’ali’i Dukelow

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — While you may be familiar with insurance policies that cover certain belongings, such as cars and homes, certain policies can also cover natural resources.

Hawaii now has a special insurance policy to protect its coral reefs, the first of its kind in the United States.

The Nature Conservancy bought the policy for funding to repair coral reefs from the pounding surf generated during natural disasters.

According to Makale’a Ane, who leads the conservancy’s community engagement and partnerships, the money would be available immediately after any storm with wind speeds that reach at least 50 knots.

“With climate change and increasing intensity of storms in Hawaii, and we’ve seen more tropical storms than hurricanes, hopefully this is a way we can help to respond to damage from tropical storms and hurricanes,” Ane added.

The conservancy developed the world’s first reef insurance policy for hurricanes specifically after Hurricane Delta struck Mexico in 2019.

Because the money would become available when a storm of a certain strength hits, the conservancy won’t have to prove damages, allowing for quick action.

“The coral gets damaged and is rolling around in the ocean and it only has a certain survival time so we have to respond immediately,” Ane said.

Response efforts would involve surveying the damages, removing debris, and retrieving corals that can be re-attached.

If the water is too dangerous for scuba divers to fasten the coral fragments, they’ll have to store them in a nursery until it’s safe to do so, which would add costs.

The amount of money paid out will depend on damages, but the maximum payout is $2 million.

“Coral reefs provide protection against flooding on our coastline and protect our infrastructure like roads and buildings, so just the basis of us living here and being able to live in Hawaii I feel like it’s very important to protect this ecosystem,” Ane said.

The conservancy is planning to train volunteers to help restore coral reefs next year.

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