Mortgage delay for wildfire victims

CREEK COUNTY, Okla. - Barren, fire scorched earth.

It's all that's left of Sherry Cheek's home, which burned in last fall's ferocious wildfires in Creek County.

"We had really good memories there."

But as Sherry browses through those memories on her laptop, bad ones are still fresh on her mind.

She and her husband want to sell the land and move on with their lives.

But they claim their mortgage company has painfully delayed that move.

"It's been a very big headache, it's been almost like I was getting to the last straw."

For some reason, Sherry tells us, their first mortgage holder, Wells Fargo, wasn't releasing $30,000 of insurance money that was supposed to go to their second mortgage company.

The Cheeks needed that money for a clear title, so they can sell.

Sherry says she made call after call to Wells Fargo with no luck.

"I have begged, I have cried, I have been angry, I even cussed."

The problem solvers called Wells Fargo, and it wasn't long until that 30 grand was finally released to the second mortgage company.

But there was now another problem.

Even with all the insurance money, the Cheeks still didn't have enough to replace everything they lost, all because of the coverage they had.

"Mine was not adequate, mine was not replacement cost," Sherry says.

And the Cheeks aren't alone.

The state insurance commissioner says some seventy percent of all the wildfire victims last fall, had inadequate coverage.

Or, since they had already paid off their mortgage, had no coverage at all.

The commissioner says too many Oklahomans are in the same position.

"Some folks are really gambling, with a lot of their financial assets at play."

John Doak says everyone should have all the coverage they can afford.

Replacement coverage, if possible, for your house and your possessions, as well as a policy that pays for expenses if you're ever out of your damaged or destroyed home for a long period of time, since you'll still be expected to pay your mortgage.

Invite your insurance agent into your home once a year, the commissioner says, to make sure you have the coverage you need.
And take into account any special collections you may have, like jewelry, furs or guns, which usually need extra riders to be covered.

"If we can get Oklahoma consumers to think about these things in advance of the tornado and hail season, they're going to be better served."

And wildfire season too.
Look no further than Sherry and her husband, as they try to recover from their fire and financial storm.

And with more reports of earthquakes in Oklahoma, the insurance commissioner says you may want to consider earthquake coverage, too.

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