OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) is available to assist Oklahomans affected by the recent severe storms that swept through Eastern Oklahoma over Father’s Day weekend. Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready encourages residents to contact the OID with insurance questions or concerns at 1-800-522-0071.
“Navigating through the insurance claim process during this time can be confusing and stressful. I would like to remind all Oklahomans that we are here to help if you are overwhelmed by the insurance claim process or have issues with your insurance agent or insurer,” Commissioner Mulready said.
Commissioner Mulready also said understanding your coverage and deductible amount is important to decide whether you want to file a claim. If your damages do not exceed your deductible, the repairs will be an out-of-pocket expense.
The OID shares some commonly asked questions and the answers about storms and home insurance coverage:
- Will my insurance company pay for repairs if a fallen tree damages my roof?Your policy has a list of covered perils; if the tree falls on your house because one of the covered perils occurred, then the company would pay to remove the tree from the roof and repair the damage to the house. Insurance is not responsible for wear and tear or neglect, so if you have a dead and unsafe tree, they could deny coverage if it just topples from being dead.
- A tree fell and landed in my yard. Will my insurance pay to remove it?
Typically, fallen trees are not covered unless it has fallen on your house or driveway. It will cover damage to your fence, roof, troughs, windows, porches and outbuildings. However, debris removal from your yard, in the absence of physical property damage, will generally be at your own expense.
- If a neighbor’s tree caused damage to my property, are they responsible for damages?
Only if your neighbor was negligent would their policy pay for your damage. If the damage is from an act of nature, then the neighbor is not liable, and you would need to file the loss with your insurance company or agent.
- A storm caused my tree to fall on my car. Will my homeowners insurance pay for the damage to my car and to remove the tree?
The homeowner’s policy pays for damage to the home and for liability when an insured is negligent. In this case, you would need to file the claim with your auto insurance carrier to have the vehicle repaired. If you only had liability coverage, then you would be out of pocket for repairs or replacing the vehicle.
- Does homeowners insurance cover the cost of a hotel in the event of loss of power?
In the event of a covered loss, like fire, and your house is uninhabitable during repairs, unsafe living conditions, or loss of utilities, temporary lodging costs are often covered. However, homeowners insurance policies generally won’t pay for additional living expenses such as a hotel room simply because of an off-premises power outage. You would have to have a direct/physical on-premises loss before most insurance carriers would consider Additional Living Expenses (ALE) reimbursements for hotel stays. I encourage you to contact your insurance agent to determine if your policy would provide ALE for your particular situation.
- Does homeowners insurance cover spoiled food after a power outage?
The homeowner’s insurance policy generally pays for food spoilage as long as the power outage was caused on your premises. Ask your agent or adjuster to verify how this scenario would be adjusted as it would follow your policy language. Finally, take pictures, keep a detailed list of the food items you had to throw away, and share it with your adjuster. This will assist the adjuster in assessing the loss.
When it comes to effectively submitting home insurance claims, the most important thing is to immediately document the damage to your property. Take photographs of the damage and make a list of everything you want to show the adjuster. Contact your insurance provider to get clarification and details regarding your policy. For more information, please visit our post-disaster resource page at www.oid.ok.gov/AFTER or call OID Consumer Assistance Division at 1-800-522-0071.