Oklahoma Flooding Causes Insurance Problems for Some Homeowners

June 21, 2010

Recent severe flooding in Oklahoma, on top of extensive damage caused by violent storms in May, have caused headaches for property owners and insurers alike in that state. The June deluge caused additional to homes of some residents still waiting for repairs from May’s heavy storms, but many may not have insurance coverage for losses caused by flooding.

Most mainline commercial insurance companies don’t offer flood insurance, which can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“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,” said Jerry Johns, president of Southwestern Insurance Information Service.

However, a typical auto insurance policy that includes comprehensive coverage will pay for flood damage to vehicles, Johns said. Motorists with flood-damaged cars should submit claims quickly, he said, because there likely will be a large number of such claims filed.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland declared an emergency in May after two separate storm systems spawned damaging wind, hail and tornadoes, to make it easier for out-of-state insurance adjusters to obtain licenses. The Insurance Department issued about 2,000 nonresident adjuster licenses in May, including more than 500 temporary licenses that are good for 90 days, spokeswoman Jennie Kleese said.

Hundreds of adjusters who came to Oklahoma to assess claims after those May storms remain in the state, Johns said, “and many of those adjusters will be there for months on end.”

Holland has estimated the two May storms caused roughly $1 billion in insured damage.

Johns, who is based in Austin, Texas, said Oklahoma has had its share of catastrophes this spring.

“The only thing you don’t have are hurricanes but don’t rule that out,” he said.

Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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