OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Nearly 71,000 insurance claims have been filed since violent tornadoes ripped through central Oklahoma last month, with payments already topping an estimated $560 million, the Oklahoma Insurance Department reported Tuesday.
“These numbers are more proof of the dramatic impact the tornadoes had on our state,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak said. “Thousands of Oklahomans are now in the process of rebuilding their lives. Insurance can help them do that and I am glad to see that so many of the victims were insured.”
Doak said the agency will hold weekly forums so residents affected by the storms can ask questions and receive assistance with insurance-related issues. Department experts will discuss how to file a claim, what to do if a claim is denied, how to file a complaint and how to spot fraud, among other concerns.
“The claims process can be complicated. My office is ready to assist consumers in any way possible,” Doak said.
Two of last month’s tornadoes were top-of-the-scale EF5s. One of those tornadoes hit Moore on May 20 with winds reaching 210 mph, and the other hit El Reno 11 days later with winds of 295 mph. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds more were injured.
The storms also damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.
Earlier this month, Doak announced that anti-fraud investigators would be patrolling tornado disaster areas searching for people who were looking to take advantage of storm victims. He said investigators are also verifying the licenses, permits and insurance of people and companies soliciting business from recovering storm victims.