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Fraud a danger for property owners in wake of storms, Oklahoma officials warn

Oklahoma tornadoes: Insurance industry officials warn that con artists often prey on disaster victims.
by Don Mecoy Published: April 17, 2012
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Oklahoma victims of the weekend tornado outbreak should use caution to avoid fraudulent operators who sometimes turn up after natural disasters, state Insurance Commission John Doak said.

“The Oklahoma Insurance Department takes insurance fraud seriously, especially exploitation of the elderly, and I would strongly recommend all homeowners to be cautious of unknown home repair crews,” Doak said.

Doak also issued a disaster declaration that allows out-of-state claims adjusters to begin assessing the damage more quickly.

Representatives of several insurance companies responded to the disaster with additional personnel and other resources.

Farmers Insurance claims personnel, agents, district managers and employees are helping customers throughout tornado-stricken areas, said John Lucido, Farmers state executive director.

The company sent a mobile command center to Woodward that will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and could remain longer if needed, Lucido said. The bus is at Roach Body Shop, 3800 Oklahoma Ave. in Woodward.

The vehicle includes communication and computer equipment that can be used by the public, he said.

Estimates of insurance property losses in the storms were not immediately available as claims adjusters still were gathering information, State Farm spokesman Jim Camoriano said Monday.

State Farm also has brought a team of disaster responders to the state to help with claims, Camoriano 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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Also ...

Attorney general

provides advice

Attorney General Scott Pruitt suggested the following tips for choosing a proper contractor or repair service:

• Ask people you trust for referrals.

• Whenever possible, deal with local firms.

• Check out the repair service with the Attorney General's Public Protection Unit and the Better Business Bureau.

• Ask for customer references.

• Get written estimates from several firms.

• Don't do business without a written contract.

• Get all guarantees, warranties and promises in writing.

• Agree on start and completion dates and have them written into the contract.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt cautioned people to be wary of repair services and contractors who:

• Solicit door-to-door.

• Offer discounts for finding other customers.

• “Just happen to have” materials left over from a previous job.

• Accept only cash payments.

• Pressure you for an immediate decision.

• Ask you to pay for the entire job up-front.

SOURCE: OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE

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