During a Memorial Day weekend of destructive tornados that passed through the El Reno, OK and surrounding areas in the Central portion of the state, six people lost their lives. Two were confirmed dead in El Reno, two others in nearby Maynes County, and one fatality occurred in Stephens and Payne Counties, according to officials.

The entire event is tragic; people we know and love lost everything, in some cases. It’s going to take some time to rebuild, but we know our community is strong.

We also know that there’s no way to guarantee it won’t happen again. Tornadoes are a part of life in Oklahoma. That is why we wanted to talk a bit about insurance today, so that you now what you need to protect yourself the next time Mother Nature strikes.

Obtain separate coverage for natural disasters if necessary

Some insurance policies for residential homes and businesses cover damage due to events such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. However, this is not the case with every policy. Some policies are named perils policies, which means they only cover what’s listed. These tend to be less expensive, but it can make claiming a loss more difficult. The other type of policy is an all risk policy, which will cover everything except certain events or losses that are specifically excluded.

As a current or pending policyholder, it is important to review any insurance policy carefully, particularly before choosing a plan. This includes the fine print. You must know what is covered and what is not covered under the terms of the policy in order to avoid unwelcome surprises if a natural disaster strikes.

Many families and individuals living in Oklahoma are a subject to tornado activity and flooding. Purchasing a separate insurance policy to cover these types of events is recommended when necessary.

What should your policy include?

A residential insurance policy in general should protect the policyholder against a specified list of damages that can include: wind damage, falling trees, smoke and fire damage, hail damage, burst pipes, explosions, falling objects, damage from the weight of ice and snow, vandalism, theft, civil commotions/riots, and personal property liability lawsuits.

A commercial insurance policy should cover everything in the residential policy, but also cover: loss of business, payroll coverage, loss of rental income, damage to inventory, machines, buildings, and materials, ingress/egress, denial of access, and extra expenses.

In the case of the El Reno tornados, FEMA has been authorized to provide federal assistance to Canadian County which includes El Reno and the surrounding severely hit areas.

What if your insurer denies your claim?

Insurance companies are only permitted to deny claims if:

  • The policyholder fails to follow the terms of the policy
  • The claim is fraudulent
  • The claim is made for an uncovered damage

If your residential claim is denied or unnecessarily delayed, it is important to start recording all of your interactions with the insurer. Record who you speak to and the time you speak to them. Keep track of all expenses related to your home and the damage it has sustained. Take detailed notes of your phone conversations. Follow everything up with emails to document the communication. Photograph everything extensively. It is important to hire an attorney to help you pursue the insurance coverage you deserve. After you do so, cease all direct contact with your insurance company representative and allow your attorney to act in your best interests.

If your commercial claim is denied, do not fight the insurance company on your own. You may become embroiled in a complicated appeals process and spend hours dealing with your insurance representative while making little to no progress. Instead, attend to the important tasks of running your business and contact an experienced Oklahoma City insurance dispute attorney to help you obtain the insurance coverage you are owed under the terms of your policy.

If your home or business has sustained damage in a severe weather event, you have a right to expect your insurer to abide by the terms of your policy and send you the money you need. However, if you suffer an insurance claim denial, you may not know what to do next. At Cunningham & Mears, we can help by holding your insurance company accountable for the insurance payout you are owed. To set up a free consultation about your case, give us a call today at 405.212.9234 or complete our contact form.