As lava continues to destroy homes in the Pahoa area, questions linger over how much homeowners can recover. Some have insurance, but what do the policies cover?

Homeowners can get insurance for lava damage. But it’s not cheap, and it’s nearly impossible to fully recover the loss of your property. 

Homes that have been damaged so far are in areas designated as Lava Zones 1 and 2. They are considered high risk areas due to volcanic activity.

An insurance expert says homeowners in these areas pay a premium to get coverage for lava damage. A typical home insurance policy is about $500 to $600 a year. 

With lava coverage, it can cost more than $3,000 a year. Even with insurance, if your house is destroyed, you won’t necessarily get fully reimbursed for it because the value of the home has depreciated.

“That could be devastating as well because the replacement value for a home may be $300,000 to rebuild and if it’s been 15, 20 years that they last built their home. They’re gonna have to factor in the depreciation and maybe they may not get $200,000,” said Sharilyn Tanaka of Atlas Insurance Agency.

Tanaka says typically, this type of insurance also comes with a higher deductible, maybe 10% of the value of the structure. So a $300,000 home, will have a $30,000 deductible.

“And so the loss has to be above that $30,000 in order for the insurance to respond,” she said.

Insurance companies make a distinction if your house is burned by lava or burned by something else even though lava caused the fire. In that case, even a regular homeowner’s policy will cover the loss because it’s considered as regular fire damage.

“It could be the heat from the lava is so severe that it cause the home to burn down. And if it’s fire that causes the damage and destroys the home, that’s covered,” said Tanaka.

Insurance companies and the state say this is a good time for those who live in or near the affected areas to check with their insurance agents to find out exactly what is covered in their homeowners insurance. Although at this point, it would be too late to make any changes in your policy.