You’re done crying over the shattered window and deep dents on your beloved car, and have come to terms with the fact Thursday’s massive hail storm damaged the shingles on your roof.
Insurance companies and claims adjusters across Lawton already are coping with scores of claims being filed by clients who are reporting damage to vehicles and structures because of winds and hail.
Larry Neal, with the J.T. Neal Agency, said the extent of Thursday’s storm will actually make the process easier for many Lawtonians because they will need to provide less information.
“Virtually, none,” Neal said of the information his clients and many others will need to provide to their insurance companies, adding he knows exactly what happened because he, too, was in Thursday’s hail storm. “Because it’s so obvious, there’s not much (information needed).”
Neal, who had already dealt personally with more than 10 clients by early Friday morning, said his first advice to everyone is protection.
“They need to do anything practical to keep property from being damaged any further,” he said, adding that could mean tarps on roofs to protect from rain, or removing wet ceiling tiles or any other water-damaged materials to prevent further damage. “We don’t want anything to mold. And, it’s going to be very obvious.”
He said many commercial businesses already were taking those protective steps early Friday, saying he already had seen broken storefront windows covered with plywood.
Neal said that while most policies have protection against hail and wind, there is a different deductible for such damage.
“We’re used to $500 deductible on homeowners (insurance),” he said, adding that on many policies, hail and wind damage include a deductible that is a percentage of the cost of repairs. “Very often, people have 1 percent wind and hail deductible, or even more. There is a special deductible that will apply.”
He said in many instances, those with car insurance will simply need to prove they have the insurance and provide a description of the vehicle.
“It’s very simple when you have something this broad, there are no special definitions,” Neal said, of the information that policy holders must provide.
It’s also going to be a lengthy process. Neal said “several thousand” houses and commercial buildings were damaged in the storm, and those doing the re-roofing are going to have to wait for roofing supply companies to get products to Southwest Oklahoma. And while there are at least five businesses in town that install vehicle windows, “a lot of windshields were broken out.”
State regulations also will provide protection to claimants with damage.
According to the Oklahoma Insurance Department, insurance carriers have 30 days to acknowledge claims and 60 days from proof of loss before they must pay, deny or investigate a claim.
Most standard homeowner policies will cover hail damage to the roof and other parts of a home, but because hail is the most common type of claim, insurance policies may include restrictions on hail damage coverage. That could mean exemptions for cosmetic damage, for example, or higher deductibles, the insurance department said. Policies in effect for high risk areas may have deductibles specifically for hail.
As for vehicles, AAA Oklahoma said hail damage coverage depends on your car insurance policy. While comprehensive coverage protects vehicles in hail and storm events, it typically carries a deductible. Basic liability or collision coverage does not cover hail damage.
Help is available from the Oklahoma Insurance Department by calling 800-522-0071