Insurance payments from the spate of tornadoes that struck Central Oklahoma in May have topped $1 billion — and the claims process still is ongoing for many property owners in the state.
“$1 billion is a big number, and we expect that to climb,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak said. “Many consumers have yet to begin the rebuilding process and insurers have not totally closed many claims yet.”
Oklahomans have filed nearly 91,000 insurance claims since May 19, according to the Oklahoma Insurance Department.
Included in the $1 billion are many payments from insurers for temporary living expenses. What is not included are the final insurance settlements that many property owners are waiting to receive, Doak said.
The rebuilding process in Moore after the May 20 tornado is slow but ongoing, Mayor Glenn Lewis said.
Many businesses in the Moore area still are waiting to receive their final insurance claim settlement before rebuilding, he said.
“The commercial side of things doesn't seem to be moving fast enough,” Lewis said.
More than 80 building permits have been filed with Moore in tornado-affected areas since May 20, Lewis said.
“We expect a whole lot more to come in over the next few months,” he said.
The cost of other Oklahoma's May storms still is dwarfed by other natural disasters.
Insurance payments from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 topped $76 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Insurers paid out more than $35 billion in claims from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Insurance payments from the EF5 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., in 2011 totaled more than $2.2 billion, according to the institute.
It is not uncommon for property owners to still be waiting on unresolved insurance claims three to four months after a large-scale disaster, Doak said.