Many homeowners and business owners in Oklahoma suffer catastrophic losses due to damage to homes, businesses and property from tornadoes, thunderstorms and hail storms. As a result of the violent weather, Oklahoma led the nation in insured losses in 2013, with insurers paying out almost $2 billion. As any property owner knows, Oklahomans pay some of the highest homeowners’ insurance premiums in the nation because of frequent violent weather.

Homeowners’ insurance covers tornado damage and other storm damage, but many insurance companies act in bad faith when it’s time to reimburse property owners for their losses. They try to deny the claim or pay far less than the amount the homeowners’ policy promises.

The attorneys of Burch, George & Germany can help if your homeowners’ insurance company is not responding properly to a claim for storm damage. Failing to investigate, not offering a settlement in a reasonable amount of time, and not offering an appropriate settlement are among many bad faith practices that insurance companies pursue to save money. We can meet with you for free to advise you of your legal rights and how we can help you obtain a proper claim settlement.

Six Steps to Securing Your Catastrophic Loss Claim in Oklahoma

A homeowners’ insurance policy is a binding contract providing that the insurer will pay the policyholder certain compensation for specified damage to his or her home and other property. This contract establishes an “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” between the insurance company and the homeowner.

Unfortunately, insurance companies know they can save money if they pay less than what is owed to a homeowner. They act in bad faith to obscure facts of the policy and deny or reduce the amount of the claim. Because of the complexity of an insurance policy, it is also easy for an insurer to ignore portions of the policy and fail to inform the homeowner of additional benefits they are owed.

You can protect yourself from bad faith practices by the company that holds your homeowners’ insurance. After suffering catastrophic losses from a tornado, hailstorm, a lightning strike or other severe weather, take these steps to protect your right to appropriate insurance payments:

  1. Photograph the damage. Before any repair work begins, get multiple photos of interior and exterior damage from multiple angles to portray the full extent of the damage. If fallen trees or other debris is part of the damage to your home, take photos that show it.
  1. File a claim. Contact your insurance company to advise them that your home has been damaged and that you are filing a claim. Provide information about the damage as requested. Be prepared to email or otherwise send photos of the damage. Follow any instructions your insurer provides for obtaining repair estimates.
  1. Secure the property. If you have to live elsewhere because of roof or wall damage, broken windows, etc., first secure your property with plywood, tarps, plastic sheeting, etc., and remove valuables from the home. If you have lost power to the home, remove perishable food. If you pay to stay in a motel, hotel, apartment, etc., save receipts for all expenses.
  1. Save records of the claim. Save copies of any written correspondence, damage photos and receipts for any expenses connected to the storm damage, including for temporary housing and repair supplies.
  1. Cooperate with the adjustor. An insurance adjustor may be sent to your home to assess the damage. He or she may offer you a settlement on the spot. You should not accept a settlement unless it meets either the maximum allowed by your policy or it equals or exceeds a guaranteed price you have in hand for full repair and/or replacement of your damaged property. Do not sign anything offered by a claims adjustor or any insurance company representative. You could be signing away your right to further compensation.
  1. Contact an Oklahoma catastrophic loss attorney. A lawyer experienced with catastrophic loss claims in Oklahoma can handle your claim for you and review any settlement offer you have received. Once retained, your attorney will serve as your representative in dealings with the insurance company, contractors, suppliers and others. If your insurer acts in bad faith, and is slow to respond to your claim or tries to short-change or deny a payout, an attorney working for you can file a lawsuit to compel payment that you are due.

Contact Our Experienced Oklahoma Catastrophic Loss Lawyers

If you have suffered significant damage to your home or other real property from a tornado or other storms in any of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, a Burch, George & Germany lawyer can help you obtain proper compensation for your losses. We’ll make sure your insurer lives up to the contracted agreement they have with you through your homeowners’ insurance policy. Don’t delay. Call us today at 405-213-0674 or fill out our online form for a free initial consultation.

More Information

The Oklahoman – Oklahoma led nation in natural disaster insured losses in 2013