Woodward homeowners battle insurance companies


WOODWARD, Okla. — Four months after a deadly twister ripped through Woodward, many homeowners say they’re stuck in limbo fighting with their insurance companies.

A brand new house is being built next to Traci Armstrong’s empty lot but she can’t start anything. 

She hasn’t gotten the money from her insurance company. 

“It really does. It makes me really angry,” Armstrong said. 

In another neighborhood, Joe and Karla Banks are living in a camper in their back yard. 

“This corner of the house came up. You can see along this whole joist where it’s sort of been separated and pushed back together,” Joe Banks said.

Contractors Banks brought in said the house needs to be torn down. 

But the insurance company won’t pay because their opinion is it can be fixed. 

“Really let down. I mean, I don’t want to say the word ‘betrayed’ but we expected better,” Banks said.

Matt and Jessica Hyman are also stuck in a struggle with their insurance company. 

“It’s all stripped away from you and it shouldn’t be because we pay for insurance,” Jessica Hyman said.

All of these homeowners have turned to attorney Jeff Marr. 

“We’ve been to house after house after house and they’re all the same thing. They should be a no-brainer. Pay them. Pay the people,” Marr said. 

Marr has seen cases like this before. 

He won a large class action lawsuit against an insurance company after the May 3, 1999 tornado. 

This time around, Marr is representing 30 policy holders in Woodward, about a third of the homes that were destroyed in that town. 

“I didn’t expect that number for the population. I mean, I really didn’t expect 30 claims where people are in the same boat,” Marr said.

All homeowners are saying it’s a sad situation that they had to turn to an attorney to get something they thought would automatically be there after a disaster.  

“We felt like there was a game being played here and everybody knew the rules but us,” Joe Banks said.

Not just one insurance company is to blame. 

Marr said many different companies are represented among his clients. 

He plans not only to get his clients their insurance money but then to take these companies to court and, he said, make them pay for the suffering they’ve put his clients through.

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