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Experts Say Double Check Your Insurance Policy Before Disaster Strikes

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So far, insurance claims from last week's tornadoes have reached more than 22,000, adding up to at least $85 million. So far, insurance claims from last week's tornadoes have reached more than 22,000, adding up to at least $85 million.
Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry's home was damaged by a storm in April. Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry's home was damaged by a storm in April.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

A staggering number of Oklahomans have filed insurance claims from last week's tornado outbreak, and the state insurance commissioner's office expects those number to go up.

Oklahoma's tornado outbreak is a good reminder that we all need to double check our insurance policies, to make sure what we think is covered is actually covered.

So far, insurance claims from last week's tornadoes have reached more than 22,000, adding up to at least $85 million.

"Certainly, just the shear numbers and the impact of the claims dollars, reparability, all the aspects involved in the recovery, it's a very significant storm," said John Wiscaver, of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

Wiscaver, the co-chair of the Oklahoma Insurance Catastrophe Task Force, said, with nearly 4,000 damaged homes, eventual costs could be as much as $2 billion.

"it's really critical to know what your coverages are and make sure they're adequate before a loss happens," Wiscaver said.

Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry knows that firsthand. His home was damaged by a storm in April.

"Winds were in the 95- to 100-mile-per-hour range, and it took off about 20 percent of our roof," said Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry.

Because loss exposures are so heavy in Oklahoma, more insurance companies are switching to percentage deductibles, based on your homes' value, instead of straight dollar amount deductibles.

That's the kind of policy Perry has.

"It's pretty much standard in the industry now, that it's 1 percent of the value of your house in Oklahoma, if it is wind damage," Perry said.

Wiscaver said, "It is becoming more normal, more the norm, that on higher risk exposures, such as wind and hail to a roof, that more and more companies are initiating special deductibles."

The State Insurance Commissioner said, usually damage caused by wind, wind driven rain, trees or other falling objects, and the collapse of a home are covered under most standard homeowners policies. But they usually don't cover interior storm-water damage when there was no damage to the roof or walls, flood damage, or damage to trees, unless they land on and damage the house.

"It's critical you have an ongoing conversation with your insurance agent to know exactly what is covered. Talk about things you've changed at the home, any risks you have changed," Wiscaver said.

Insurance experts say it's good practice to meet with your insurance agent at least once each year to review your insurance policy.

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