Living in the middle of Tornado Alley, Oklahomans know how extreme the weather can be, and how much destruction a tornado or hailstorm can cause to a home or business. Even though most tornadoes don’t cause enough damage to make national headlines, the sheer number of strong storms that occur in this region has a cumulative effect, creating substantial financial risk to insurance carriers.

In 2017, Oklahoma ranked fifth in the nation for properties damaged by hail, with close to 650,000 affected, or 55% of all buildings in the state. Every year, population growth and urban sprawl contribute to a higher density of buildings in areas that were once open farmland, amplifying the mayhem when a tornado hits. Flying debris from structures nearby can make damages to a home or business much worse than a blown-off roof.

Wind and hail damage

Most claims for wind and hail damage to structures involve roof or shingle damage. While a standard homeowner’s insurance will cover hail damage to a certain extent, there are often restrictions to coverage. For example, sometimes an insurance company denies a claim because it says the the damage to be merely cosmetic, and does not alter the functionality of the house. In higher risk areas, insurance carriers may require a separate deductible for wind and hail damage.

After a disastrous storm hits a community, homeowners are sometimes frustrated by insurance companies that act in bad faith by delaying or denying claims. Insurance claims adjustors will cite building flaws, foundation settling and deterioration to the roof as reasons for denying or lowballing claims. Often their estimates are far lower than what a reputable building contractor would require for repairs.

For businesses that own commercial property in the path of destructive storms, property insurance, as well as business interruption coverage, are critically important to their survival. Most commercial property claims also involve roof damage, and often an insurance company will deny a claim, saying the damage is due to prior deterioration of the roof, not the storm. In addition to property damage, businesses must also fight to get compensation for lost revenue due to the interruption of business and relocation.

How to ensure coverage

Insurance companies have responded to the increased risk and higher payouts each year with higher premiums and greater restrictions on what coverage they will offer. Property owners increasingly seek legal remedies when claims are denied, delayed or underpaid. Getting the best insurance coverage sometimes means finding specialized representation that will effectively confront insurance carriers who won’t cover your claims.