In a recent news article published in The Oklahoman, the headline trumpeted “Oklahoma Led Nation In Natural Disaster Insured Losses In 2013.”1 Based on reports we receive, though, it seems an accurate subtitle would have read “But Was It Enough?” In this first installment of my Oklahoma Coverage Series, I’ll take a look at some disturbing trends being reported as to the manner in which some insurance carriers are treating Oklahoma policyholders.

The Oklahoman article says “insurers paid out $1.99 billion to Oklahomans due to storm damage in 2013.” The article goes on to quote Robert Hartwig, an economist that serves as President of the Insurance Information Institute, as follows: “Oklahoma’s policyholders received nearly $2 billion from their insurers in 2013 after multiple, deadly tornadoes struck Oklahoma, changing forever communities such as Moore.” Mr. Hartwig made his observations during a presentation at the latest National Tornado Summit held in Oklahoma City.

But Was It Enough?

Donnie Seburg, President of Vertex Roofing & Construction in Norman, Oklahoma, reports that those 2013 carrier payments fall far short of what the carriers should have paid. Improper depreciation calculations, failing to provide for proper ventilation requirements, and denying building code required upgrades are just a few of the common themes Mr. Seburg reports on behalf of his customers.

Donnie Seburg, inspecting roof damage after the storm

In addition, as has been reported all over the country, incorrect overhead & profit calculations remain another concern for Oklahoma policyholders.

Approaching Deadlines

Oklahoma endured devastating storm damage throughout May of 2013. The one-year anniversary of these storms occur in the coming weeks. This anniversary can become critical depending on the terms of each policyholder’s particular insurance policy.

We have received reports related to Oklahoma insurance policies – for both residential and commercial policies – of a contractual limitations period as short as one year from the date of loss for policyholders to bring suit against their insurance carrier. Accordingly, time may be running out in the near future for many policyholders to take action if their property damage claim was improperly paid.

How Does This Affect Me?

If you are a policyholder in the greater Oklahoma City area, take a look at your claim to see if these trends ring true. I also urge you to be aware of the approaching one-year anniversary for the storms. Make sure you find out whether your policy contains language that shortens the right to bring suit to one year from the date of loss.

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