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Officials: Tips for handling insurance claims following severe storms

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Many Oklahomans are cleaning up the mess left behind by severe storms that moved through Oklahoma this past weekend.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department released several tips to help homeowners navigate insurance claims.

  1. Know what your insurance covers
    Fallen trees and limbs– A lot of damage caused from this weekend’s storms came in the form of fallen trees. If a tree or limb hits a home or another insured structure, standard homeowners insurance provides coverage for the damage the tree does to the structure and the contents inside it. It does not matter if you own the tree. If a tree causes damage to your car, comprehensive coverage of an auto policy would cover the cost of repair.
    Flooding- Flood damage is generally not covered by a standard homeowners or renter’s insurance policy. But flood damage to your is covered under comprehensive coverage of your auto insurance policy.
    Lightning – Damage caused by lightning is covered by standard homeowners and business insurance policies. Some home and business insurance policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of lightning striking a home or business. There is also coverage for lightning damage under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.
  2. Start the claims process as quickly as possible
    Time requirement– Most insurance companies have a time requirement for filing a claim, so call them immediately once you have a list of home inventory that was damaged or lost.
    Car damage– If your car sustained damage while in your garage or carport, it is covered by your auto insurance policy, not homeowners.
  3. Understand the claims process
    Filing your claim– After filing your claim, your insurance company will send a claims adjuster to your home to assess the damage at no cost to you. The adjuster will walk through your home to see the damage and then complete an assessment.
    Paying your claim – You may receive more than one check. The first may be an emergency advance. If there is a mortgage on your home, the payment for structural damage may be payable to you and your mortgage lender. Lenders may put that money into an escrow account and pay for repairs as the work is completed.

The Oklahoma Insurance Consumer Bill of Rights is a summary of your legal rights under state laws. If you feel your insurance company is not responding quickly enough or completing a reasonable investigation into your claim, contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 800-522-0071.