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

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By ‘A’ali’i Dukelow

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HONOLULU (KITV) — While you may be familiar with insurance policies that cover certain assets, such as cars and homes, some policies may 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 purchased the policy for funding to repair coral reefs from surf waves generated during natural disasters.

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

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

Conservation developed the world’s first reef hurricane insurance policy specifically after Hurricane Delta hit Mexico in 2019.

Since the money would become available when a storm of a certain strength hit, the reserve would not have to prove damage, allowing for quick action.

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

Response efforts would involve surveying the damage, removing debris, and salvaging any corals that may be attached.

If the water is too dangerous for divers to fix the coral fragments, they will have to store them in a nursery until they can do so safely, which would increase costs.

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

“Coral reefs provide flood protection to our coastline and protect our infrastructure like roads and buildings, so just the basis of our life here and our ability to live in Hawaii, I think it’s very important to protect this ecosystem,” Ane said.

Conservation plans to train volunteers to help restore coral reefs next year.

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