Sirens over Hawaii: How Does Insurance Deal with War?

warning siren over hawaii

A week or so ago, a news article came across the news wires of air raid sirens going off in Hawaii. These warnings were in response to missiles which have the range of hitting the islands being shot out over the Pacific Ocean by North Korea.

The response by the public ran the spectrum of total disregard like a comment by one individual who had heard these sirens back in the 80’s, “like if they do fire at us, what am I going to do or where am I going to go. We are told we would have up to 15 minutes before they explode so I’ll just grab a beer, sit down on my porch and watch the show”–to another who responds with, “these drills are terribly frightening but I do hope I have prepared enough emergency supplies so my family can survive the carnage.” Another response would come from those think by rioting or civil commotion the government can waive a magic wand and make bad guys go away. “We’ll just throw enough rocks and start a few fires or maybe break some innocent storekeeper’s windows to get the attention of the government and all will be well. We then can get on with another public cause we can demonstrate for so we can feel good about our public discourse.”

How does your homeowner or business owner policy respond to each of the above?

If the first event occurred, the national government would by all accounts declare a state of emergency and probably not take long in declaring the event an act of war. In either case, going to your policy you would read under the exclusion section: “WAR, including undeclared war, civil war, insurrection, rebellion, revolution, warlike act by military force or military personnel, destruction or seizure of property for use for any military purpose, and including any consequence of any of these. Discharge of a nuclear weapon will be deemed a warlike act even if accidental.” This reading will take about 3 minutes of your fifteen minutes of existence so you won’t have long to be upset. Not being a drinker, I  can only surmise if you drink slowly you could still get on the porch in time to watch the show.

However, if you are still around after the demonstrators went through your neighborhood displaying their displeasure in the public rhetoric by breaking your windows, sitting fire to your porch, tearing up your favorite coconut trees, and throwing your trash can out in the street, you could get your policy out and read under the perils of coverage section: RIOT OR CIVIL COMMOTION. Covered. You could calm your nerves with a beer before calling your insurance adjuster who would take a loss notice and instruct you on how to proceed.

One of the justifications for handling the loss due to one peril and not the other comes from the wide potential severity of the loss due to war as opposed to relatively limited severity of civil commotion–neither loss appealing to any one individual but helpful at least to some. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and the sirens over Hawaii will be muted permanently.

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