Oklahoma's hail and wind damage could cost insurers $400 million

An Oklahoma-based insurance company says the storm was major but not a catastrophic event.
by Don Mecoy Published: June 5, 2012

Last week's storms caused an estimated $400 million in insured property damage, an insurance industry group estimated, although a major provider said Monday that the hail and high winds were not a catastrophic event.

“From the standpoint of comparing this to the hail event we had a couple of years ago in the spring that was just a massive hailstorm, it is not even close to the magnitude of that event,” said John Wiscaver, vice president of public affairs for Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance.

Wiscaver said media coverage of last week's hailstorms may have left the impression they caused heavy property damage.

“We've certainly had some damaging hail that's been in isolated areas throughout the state,” he said. “But we've not seen nearly the level of claims anticipated based on the level of (media) coverage and level of reported hail that hit in some of the areas.”

The Texas-based Southwestern Insurance Information Service issued the $400 million preliminary estimate of insured losses based on surveys of its members, which include Oklahoma's largest insurance providers, said Sandra Helin, president of the industry group.

“That's preliminary,” Helin said. “The numbers change. For one company, it doubled between Thursday and Friday.”

Claims for damage caused by the storm are widespread, Helin said. The $400 million estimate doesn't include commercial losses or businesses that lost income due to storm damage, she said.

Group 1 Automotive Inc., a publicly traded company that operates eight Oklahoma City area car dealerships, reported last week that it expected to incur after-tax charges related to its insurance deductibles in the range of $1.8 million to $2.3 million because of damage to its vehicles at seven of its local stores.

by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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Storm victims who have problems with insurance claims may call the Oklahoma Insurance Department's Consumer Assistance Team toll-free at (800) 522-0071.

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