Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak has issued an emergency order that clears the way for out-of-state appraisers to help with claims related to the winter storm.
The Insurance Department also has created a catastrophe response task force to coordinate efforts of the agency and the industry, Doak said.
“Undoubtedly, both consumers and insurers will face challenges in the days ahead and we want to eliminate or reduce as many barriers to a prompt recovery that we can,” he said.
Doak's declaration enables emergency claims adjusters to be licensed temporarily to expedite the insurance claims process and provide immediate assistance.
Automobile-related damage from vehicles that have stranded or wrecked probably will be the most frequent type of claims from the storm, Doak said. Residential and commercial building damage, such as the roof collapse at Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, likely also will be significant, he said. Agricultural buildings, which are not built to the standards of homes and other structures, likely also will suffer from the weight of snow and ice.
Finally, residents who slip while trying to traverse slick areas and those who overexert themselves while trying to clear heavy snow could prompt some insurance claims, Doak said.
“You pay for these premiums and this is when the insurance industry goes into action to bring you back whole,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Paul Wilkening will represent the Insurance Department on the task force, Doak said. Wilkening is a certified instructor and practitioner for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the first person at the Insurance Department to hold such certification, Doak said.
“It seems likely Oklahomans are going to be picking up the pieces left by the storm for some time,” Wilkening said. “It is important that Oklahomans keep themselves safe, protect their property and work with their insurance provider to begin the recovery process.”
Kim Decker, Oklahoma government affairs senior representative with Farmers Insurance Group, and John Wiscaver, Oklahoma public affairs director with State Farm Insurance, will co-chair the response task force, Doak said. Wiscaver was actively involved in coordinating his company's response to Hurricane Katrina, Doak said.
What Damage to Your Home is Covered?
Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, and the collapse of a structure due to weight of ice or snow, are covered under most standard homeowners policies. Frozen pipes might not be covered if the damage is due to the homeowner's negligence, such as failing to maintain adequate temperature in the home when you had the ability to do so.
SOURCE: Oklahoma Insurance Department.
What to Do if Your Home is Damaged:
• Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and all relevant information as soon as possible. Cooperate fully with your company or agent, asking what forms, documents and data you will need to provide in order to process your claim.
• Take photos or video of the damage.
• Make necessary repairs to prevent further damage to the property, but do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement with them on the cost of appropriate repairs.
• Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs that might be covered by your insurance policy.
• If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot stay, ask your insurance provider if you have coverage for living expenses incurred while repairs are being made. Save all receipts to document these costs.