Tuesday's tornadoes caused “tens of millions of dollars” in insured losses across Oklahoma, but the losses could be much higher, an insurance industry spokesman said Wednesday.
More exact estimates won't be available for some time because adjusters are having some difficulty reaching all the areas that were hit by the tornado outbreak, said Jerry Johns, president of Southwestern Insurance Information Services.
“Preliminary estimated insured losses from the tornadoes and high winds in Oklahoma are going to initially be in the tens of millions of dollars, but those numbers could be several hundred million dollars when all is said and done,” Johns said.
Wind damage claims often are slow to be reported because many homeowners may not yet be aware of roof damage, he said.
“We stress these are probably just the first wave of claims to be filed and that number could go much higher,” he said.
State Insurance Commissioner John Doak on Wednesday declared an emergency, which allows emergency insurance adjusters to receive temporary licensing to work claims related to Tuesday's storms.
“A number of individual Oklahomans and businesses will need the assistance of their insurers to recover from damage caused by Tuesday's storms,” Doak said. “This order will help expedite that process.”
Johns said other recent tornadoes have limited the personnel insurers can bring to Oklahoma.
“Companies are going to be spread thin with the event in Missouri and the southeastern U.S., but they prepare for these types of events and will have specially trained units on the site as soon as it is safe to enter,” he said. “The best advice for storm victims is to make minor repairs when it is safe to do so and call their insurance agent or company immediately.”