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Insurance official: Wildfire losses costly, tragic

Oklahoma wildfires have scorched thousands of acres and destroyed scores of buildings, and much of the damage is uninsured, state Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak said Monday.
by Don Mecoy Published: August 7, 2012
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The wildfires that torched scores of homes and other structures in recent days left “hundreds of millions of dollars” in damage, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak estimated Monday.

And much of that destroyed property is uninsured, Doak said.

“My heart goes out to people who don't have insurance,” Doak said.

Oklahoma, which is among the worst states for the number of drivers who lack required vehicle insurance, also appears to have a large number of uninsured homes, Doak said.

“Insurance is not mandated on a home once you have it paid off. It is a personal choice,” he said. “We hate to see anybody without insurance.”

Faith-based and charitable organizations are working to help those uninsured Oklahomans who suffered losses from the wildfires, Doak said.

An estimate of the losses from the fires is hard to gauge, Doak said. “Statewide, I would put it in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.

Command post set up

Doak's agency set up a command post near Mannford and has representatives helping fire victims in Sand Springs, Drumright and Bristow.

“When somebody's home is completely burned down, they have no cellphone, they have no wallet, they have no insurance information,” he said. “It's a place they can come and we can answer consumer questions and make sure their insurance claims are moving along.”

The Insurance Department has asked companies to come to the Mannford site to create a one-stop location for those who suffered losses in the area, Doak said.

One of the state's major property and casualty insurance providers, Allstate Insurance Co., has sent one of its Catastrophe Response Vehicles to the area, company spokeswoman Kari Mather said. The vehicle is equipped to help customers file claims and get answers to insurance questions, Mather said.

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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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Information

Oklahomans can reach the Oklahoma Insurance Department's Consumer Assistance team toll-free at (800) 522-0071 or online at oid.ok.gov.

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