The Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) says insurance claims from a series of tornadoes in May jumped to 70,782 with insurance payments reaching close to $562 million.
Claims from the two worst outbreaks numbered 40,264 for May 19th and 20th and 29,355 for May 30th and 31st. Homeowners claims has the largest insurance pay-out totaling $437 million for the four day period with 33,808 claims. Auto is close behind in number of claims at 31,693 claims and insurance pay-out of more than $80 million.
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak says the numbers are proof of the dramatic impact of the tornadoes on his state and he is happy to see that so many victims are insured.
Doak says the department launched a series of forums to allow the state’s tornado victims to receive assistance with insurance-related issues such as claims filing and fraud.
The commissioner also advised public adjusters to refrain from charging customers more than 10 percent of their claims settlement after negotiating compensation for property claims.
“Oklahoma storm victims need alternatives and assistance, but they also need to keep as much of their insurance claim as possible,” he says.
While the OID is monitoring all claims handlers' fees, it asks that all adjusters carry a state proof of license up to 90 days after the catastrophe, and that they ask for no payment in advance of a settlement.
Meanwhile, the OID issued a bulletin to all licensed P&C insurers and producers to keep their customer’s on their current policies for 60 days after the completion of repairs.
“As a result of the devastating tornado outbreak, thousands of Oklahomans have filed property claims,” says Doak. “Because of that, insurers are now reassessing risks and issuing nonrenewal notices. Due to the backlog of work that contractors and repair shops are currently experiencing, many repairs won’t be completed before the policy expires. That results in open and pending claims that prevent the policyholder from obtaining replacement coverage.”
The Insurance Consumer Bill of Rights, passed by the state legislature in early 2013, says that insurers may not cancel, refuse to renew or increase the premium of a homeowner’s policy which has been in effect more than 45 days solely because the insured has filed a first claim against the policy.