Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak said his office is working to educate residents about the risks posed by earthquakes in the wake of a series of temblors that have rocked Oklahoma in recent weeks. Over the weekend, Oklahoma was hit with a 5.6 magnitude earthquake.
Doak said the roughly nine quakes seen during October should serve as a warning to Oklahoma residents. "The last five years in Oklahoma have been highly unusual. There have been more earthquakes and tremors under 5.0, until today, than I believe there've been in the last 50," Doak said. "This is the largest, most powerful earthquake to ever hit Oklahoma."
Doak, who spoke to Best's News Service during the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' fall meeting in National Harbor, Md., said he and his staff are working to inform consumers about the availability of earthquake coverage and what to do in the event that a powerful earthquake hits the state. "Oklahomans know what to do in the case of a tornado. We have those on a pretty regular basis. And now we're dealing with these tremors, so we're trying to understand what does that mean for our state and consumers and commercial folks," Doak said.
Doak said on Nov. 4, his office put out an earthquake advisory that tells consumers it is "good time for policyholders to speak with their agents -- and for agents to be fully prepared to inform their policyholders -- about the subject of earthquake insurance."
The advisory also said after temblors occur, a waiting period normally exists before coverage can be added to a homeowners or commercial property insurance policy, but immediately in the wake of a quake is a good time for consumers and insurers to discuss all options.
The NAIC developed a 20-page consumer guide to earthquake insurance earlier this summer, which it redistributed over its Twitter account over the weekend.
Earthquakes have garnered a great deal of attention this year, given massive events that struck Japan and New Zealand earlier this year. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook Virginia in August, causing roughly $100 million in insured losses, according to estimates put out by catastrophe risk modeler Eqecat (Best's News Service, Sept. 12, 2011).
The series of unusual catastrophes seen this year, including earthquakes, have put increased pressure on insurers' financials. The third quarter's catastrophes continue to take their toll on insurers' bottom lines as several companies saw preliminary net losses mount in the tens of millions (Best's News Service, Oct. 13, 2011).
To see more about the interview with Doak, go to: http://bcove.me/bt1qxuoh
(By Jeff Jeffrey, Washington Correspondent: firstname.lastname@example.org)