Mansell, Engel & Cole

Earthquake insurance in Oklahoma: some interesting numbers

There are several prominent takeaways from an in-depth and reflective media article written earlier this year on the topic of earthquakes in Oklahoma.

Undoubtedly, this tops the list: Earthquake occurrences and attendant quake damage comprise a very real threat to residents across the state.

Support for that unfortunate reality is myriad and multi-sourced, and readily buttressed by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey. They recently posited that millions of Oklahomans live in areas having a "significant potential for serious seismic activity and damaging results.

Logically, that might call out for safeguards accorded through earthquake insurance, which, reportedly, hundreds of thousands of residents have purchased. One of them is Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak, who strongly urges policy protection for families and businesses across the state, saying that self insuring is a bad idea and could even lead to bankruptcy.

A troublesome question for many quake policyholders who have sought to secure peace of mind through policy purchases, though, has been this: "How can I collect for a loss?"

And, indeed, that seems a most logical query, given insurers' notably dismal track record in paying out on quake-related loss claims. Here are some telling statistics:

  • Over a multi-year period, insurers have raked in $211 million on quake policies, yet paid out only $5 million on damage claims
  • Only about 16 percent of claimants suffering losses over that period have been paid anything at all

The payout rate is so low, say Oklahoma insurance officials, because policies are intended to safeguard against only catastrophic damage.

Judging from the impressively high rejection rates, many state policyholders might be wondering what threshold level of damage and destruction must be realized to qualify as "catastrophic."

Policyholders with questions or concerns regarding policy particulars, a recalcitrant insurer response, a denied claim or other related matter might reasonably want to consult with a proven claimants' insurance attorney for guidance and, when necessary, strong legal representation.

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