Oklahoma Watches and Warnings

UPDATE: Family with botched storm shelter receives brand new one to go in its place

UPDATE 9/27/18 - It was love at first sight for Brad Harness.

He and his family have a brand new storm shelter from Storm Safe Shelters.

The company came and yanked out the old, botched storm shelter and put a new one in its place.

Remember, water got underneath the family's old shelter and pushed it right up out of the ground.

The old shelter was insured, but brad's insurance didn't want to pay to repair it, they say because the damage was caused by shifting or moving earth and that is not covered by their insurance policy.

What we decided to do was team up with Mark Able of Premier Custom Homes and Storm Safe Shelters to put a new shelter in the ground at no charge to the family.

“This was a no brainer for Premier,” Mark said. “We saw this and this was a calling that I needed to get with you guys.”

Mark and Premiere are footing the bill.

“There is rebar that goes into the existing slab that ties in this whole piece,” he added.

We climbed inside for a closer look.

It felt roomier and really bolted down.

Most importantly, it’s another level of protection for this family during storm season.

Update 9/11/18 - Check this huge worry off Brad Harness' to do list.

“I’m very surprised,” he exclaimed.

Mark Able of Premier Custom Homes was watching News 4 the other night and thought to himself, “I was born and raised in Oklahoma, so anything we can do to help.”

Right away he picked up the phone and called his buddy Jason Whitlock from Storm Safe Shelters.

The In Your Corner team, Premiere, and Storm Safe are joining forces to replace the Harness' faulty shelter.

Jason explained some of the installation process.

“Our rebar that we're going to put in is going to go back over the top of that and that's going to keep that extra solid.”

Storm Safe wants to offer the shelter at cost and Premier Custom Homes will pick up the rest of the tab.

“We'll have this gone, hauled off, brand new concrete, brand new storm shelter in place properly by the end of the week,”

This is a big deal for brad and his family.

Remember, water got underneath their old shelter and forced it out of the ground.

Even though the shelter is insured, Liberty Mutual doesn't want to pay for repairs.

You see damage caused by shifting or moving earth is not covered by most insurance policies.

Brad points out, “The principal of it for me is to fight the insurance on it, because I just feel like they're not doing what they're paid to do.”

The In Your Corner team connected Brad with independent insurance adjuster, Alice Young, who's still trying to help brad get more money from his insurance.

Brad and his wife just had a baby.

After months of being unemployed, Brad started a new job Monday and now there is more peace of mind for this growing family.

“From the bottom of our hearts, as a father taking care of three girls and a wife, it gives us a lot of security,” Brad said.

Here's another added bonus.

Storm Safe also provides a lifetime warranty that is fully transferable.

  • Storm shelter installers are largely regulate themselves.
  • Remember, you're paying for the shelter and the installation.
  • Really spend some time reviewing the design plans and find out what kind of installation you'll be getting, because how they plan to anchor the shelter is a big deal.

OKLAHOMA CITY - Brad Harness says it looked like a small river rushing out of his garage.

He recalled, “It was going into our laundry room and our kitchen and our master bedroom was flooded.”

The water spewing from the family's busted hot water tank forced the family's below-ground storm shelter right out of the floor.

Brad filed a claim with his insurance, Liberty Mutual.

His policy covers actual damage to his shelter, just not when it moves.

He said, “To me it's not rationale.”

We had independent insurance adjuster Alice Young from Brown O'Haver review Brad's policy.

She told us it looks like Liberty Mutual has an exclusion on their policy for earth movement.

“The water damage in this case is actually insured,” she said. “Whether it was in the house or outside, it was insured, but the water caused the storm shelter to move, which means that it's excluded.”

We saw standing water still in Brad's shelter.

Young says if it was damaged, Liberty Mutual should still be on the hook for those repairs.

She added, “If there is water damage, if he is, I think he should be paid for the water damage and rusting, because that's going to have be taken care of regardless of whether it moved.”

We alerted Liberty Mutual and while they do not publicly comment on the details of their customers' claims, they did agree to reach out to their claims team to have someone contact brad to fuuther discuss his concerns.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear Brad has much recourse, even if the storm shelter wasn't installed properly.

The installer who put it in is out of business.

Not to mention Brad wasn't the original buyer and most warranties are non-transferable.

It doesn't help that the storm shelter industry regulates itself.

Most cities however do require installers get a permit and submit their design for review.

Inspection Services Superintendent, Mike Miller, says with limited resources and inspectors, it would be virtually impossible to watch each shelter being installed.

Inspections are done after they get put in the ground, but by that point, the customer could have a faulty shelter install and not even know it.

“The storm shelters are being placed in the ground [and] they're certified by an engineer that's licensed in Oklahoma to not leak, not float and withstand the ground forces that push in on them,” Miller said. Otherwise anyone could stick a concrete or metal box in the ground.”

That didn’t matter much in this case.

It looks like Brad still got stuck with a faulty shelter install.

Miller tells the In Your Corner team he and his team have shopped around the idea of introducing a city statute that would require storm shelter companies register with the city and post a bond.

“That would be one protection measure for the homeowners, if something like this would happen you would have some recourse to go back on,” he said.

That is unless an installer goes out of business.

Liberty Mutual is still denying Brad's claim for shelter repairs. 

He's stuck with a shelter he doesn't trust to protect his family.

The In Your Corner bottom line:

  • Get references.
  • Undertand your storm shelter's warranty.
  • You should know what kind of installation you're getting.
  • Alice Young and Brown O'Haver are still trying to help brad get more money from his insurance.
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