In the wake of the flooding in Oklahoma City that has killed one and injured more than one hundred and thirty people, many homeowners are at risk of having their insurance policies canceled, non-renewed or receiving a rate increase. Even worse, some homeowners could discover their insurance policies are not even real. Many residents seeking help from insurance companies are now looking for answers elsewhere, such as from our expereinced insurance bad faith attorneys at Atkins and Markoff.
PROTECTING OKLAHOMA HOMEOWNER RIGHTS FROM CANCELLATION, NON-RENEWAL AND RATE INCREASES
Insurance companies are constantly evaluating their risk portfolios for many different reasons. But doing so puts the policy holder in a dangerous predicament. If the homeowner’s policy is cancelled or not renewed while he is waiting for repairs then he will not have coverage and will not be able to obtain new insurance until after the repairs are completed. That is because insurance companies will typically not insure any property that has substantial damage and is in need of repairs or has an existing claim.
The Oklahoma government is doing what it can to help. Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland issued a bulletin to all insurance companies in the state “strongly advising” them to maintain coverage until repairs from recent storm damage are completed. Holland asks insurance companies to retain their policyholders for at least 60 days. This will allow Oklahomans a chance to look for new coverage if the company is planning on canceling or not renewing their policies.
While the Oklahoma Insurance Department is asking insurance companies to cooperate, there are still tens of thousands of Oklahomans whose homes have been damaged by floods, high wind, hail and tornadoes. And because the damage is so wide spread, roofing and building contractors have become backlogged leaving many waiting weeks or even months for repairs to be completed. That means a person whose policy is cancelled or not renewed, even with the sixty day grace period, might be left without home insurance coverage and a house in desperate need of repairs.
But while the law may not be able to protect you from flood waters, it can protect your rights as a homeowner. Oklahoma law specifically prohibits insurance companies from cancelling, not renewing, or increasing rates exclusively for filing the first claim against a policy. If you or someone you love believes that your insurance company has violated your rights, contact one of the skilled attorneys at Atkins & Markoff today.
PROTECTING OK HOMEOWNER RIGHTS FROM INSURANCE FRAUD
With the decline of the economy in recent years, the Oklahoma Insurance Department has reported an increase in insurance fraud. Earlier this year, Insurance Commissioner Holland fined a Tennessee company and two of its affiliates $25,000 each for violating a cease and desist order she issued in November of last year for illegally selling insurance products in Oklahoma.
The company, American Trade Association, and its various affiliated organizations are under investigation in many other states for selling insurance products without a license and for failing to pay claims. One Oklahoma family sent hundreds of dollars a month to the company, but when a family member became sick they discovered their insurance policy was not real.
Homeowners can protect themselves from insurance fraud by calling the Oklahoma Insurance Department to confirm that any company offering insurance or insurance-like products is properly licensed to do business in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Insurance Department consumer hotline is 405-256-2606.
But what about homeowners who have already fallen victim to insurance fraud? A homeowner can spend thousands of dollars paying insurance premiums only to discover the policy isn’t real when he attempts to file a claim. And with the flood, wind, and hail that has ravished homes throughout the state, a homeowner could be left with a damaged home and no insurance coverage to help pay for the repairs. If you or someone you love has been victimized by insurance fraud, contact one of the skilled insurance claim attorneys at Atkins & Markoff today.