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How to rebuild after a storm

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Posted at 1:30 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-30 14:30:16-04

Filing an insurance claim after severe weather strikes can be pretty straight-forward. What follows afterwards, however, can complicate the rebuilding process.

Some tornado victims are left without a road map when it comes to knowing how state insurance laws protect them. Oklahomans cannot be surcharged for weather-related losses. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak says consumers are always in control.

As for one Sand Springs homeowner, Kathy Lytle, she wishes things were done differently. Lytle still remembers March 25, 2015 vividly. A tornado picked up the roof of her home while she took shelter with her dogs. The force of the twister was evident as debris littered her yard. She filed for an insurance claim following the storm. A year later, she still isn’t in her home.

“I didn’t know what to do actually because I had never been in any type of disaster.”

After months of working with her insurer’s preferred company, her home is still inhabitable. Lytle is now stuck with finding a new contractor to complete the rebuilding process. “I just want to come home, “ Lytle said as she fought back tears.

It’s a different story for Aim High Academy Executive Director Jennifer Patterson. The same tornado that struck Lytle’s home damaged the facility her girls were practicing in.

RELATED: Aim High Academy bounces back after storm, starts practices at temporary facility | Tulsa Shock organization donates to Aim High Academy | Aim High Academy back on the mat after Wednesday's tornado destroyed their gym
 
The images of firefighters carrying out the little girls touched the nation. Three days after the severe weather outbreak, scores of volunteers showed up to begin the rebuilding process.

While Patterson and her girls were away at a competition, volunteers were able to recover all gymnastic equipment and list each item. They only had about an hour to determine what items sustained damage and which ones were destroyed. The act of categorizing every piece of equipment is an unnerving task after experiencing the full force of nature. It’s a process Doak says is important.

“Have your agent or broker come visit your home and walk through your home," he says. "Consumers aren’t obligated to go with who the insurance company recommends. One of the first things to do is check coverage limits."

“I wish I had researched further,” Lytle says.

Doak adds, “You may find your home is going to be replaced but you may not have enough additional living expense.” Consumers may find themselves paying for a mortgage even though you don’t have a home to live in. Homeowners and renters are encouraged to take the extra time and go over every detail of their policy. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Both Doak and Patterson agree it pays to be organized.

If you find yourself without enough coverage or end up getting dropped by insurance company, you can seek assistance from the Oklahoma Department of Insurance.  You can contact them toll free at 1-800-522-0071. You can also check out the Oklahoma Market Assistance Program (OK-MAP). There, the department of insurance lists how consumers can get help when having difficulty in obtaining adequate coverage on their home.

 

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