Oklahoma Spring Storms Lead to Insurance Headaches

June 21, 2010

Property owners and insurers in Oklahoma are all suffering the effects of recent severe flooding and extensive damage from last month’s wind storms. The heavy rains earlier this month caused additional damage to the homes of some residents who had yet to make repairs made necessary by violent storms in May.

Most mainline commercial insurance companies don’t offer flood insurance, which must be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program, a division of FEMA, but those people who don’t have mortgages which require flood coverage may not be aware they need it.

Jerry Johns, president of Southwestern Insurance Information Service told reporters, “What’s sad is to see someone who thinks their homeowners’ insurance covers flooding – and a lot of people do – to realize that everything has been destroyed and they have to pay to replace it.” However, he explained, the average auto insurance policy that includes comprehensive coverage will pay for flood damage to vehicles, so motorists with flood-damaged cars would be well advised to file claims sooner rather than later.

Kim Holland, Oklahoma’s Insurance Commissioner, declared an emergency in May, after two different storm systems caused damaging wind, hail, and tornadoes. The move was designed to make it easier for out-of-state insurance adjusters to obtain licenses. The Insurance Department issued roughly 2,000 such licenses last month, including 500 that were temporary, expiring in 90 days, said spokesperson Jennie Kleese.

Holland estimated that the May storms caused about $1 billion in insured damage.

Johns, who is based in Houston, TX , said that Oklahoma has certainly had its share of catastrophes this spring. He said, “The only thing you don’t have are hurricanes but don’t rule that out.”