The federal district court granted preliminary approval of the class action settlement reached on behalf of insureds who suffered property damage due to the 2018 Kilauea eruption on the Big Island. Aquilina v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152614 (D. Haw. Aug. 13, 2021).
After destruction of their homes due to lava flow, plaintiffs sued various insurers and agents as a putative class action. Plaintiffs claimed they purchased surplus lines policies brokered and underwritten by various defendants. The policies each contained an exclusion for the peril of lava flow, which plaintiffs claimed rendered them worthless or unsuitable given that their properties were located in a high-risk lava zone.
Plaintiffs alleged that defendants breached obligations under the Hawaii Surplus Lines Act, which required that surplus lines insurers conduct a diligent search for other available coverage before placing a homeowner with surplus lines coverage. Plaintiffs alleged defendants should have advised them of the availability of lava-damage coverage through the Hawaii Property Insurance Association (HPIA), a statutorily created association of admitted insurers established in part in response to Kilauea's eruption patterns, which made the private insurance market less likely to Insure certain high-risk areas.