OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- As tornado season intensifies, Oklahoma's top insurance official said Tuesday he is compiling a consumer bill of rights to let home and car owners know what their legal rights are when they are affected by severe weather or some other calamity.
Commissioner of Insurance John Doak said the index will summarize consumer rights under state law and Department of Insurance rules and will help consumers who file a claim with their insurer to repair their vehicle or home.
"We know that we're going to have weather in Oklahoma," Doak said. About $26 million in insurance claims has already been paid to repair damage to homes and vehicles damaged in a tornado that struck Woodward in April 2012 and millions more has been paid in recent years to repair home and vehicle damage caused by hail storms across the state.
Doak said the Oklahoma City and Lawton areas were hit by large hail just last weekend.
"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," the insurance commissioner said. "We need these claims paid promptly."
Legislation that authorizes the consumer guide was passed in the state Senate Monday and is pending in the House.
Doak and state lawmakers said the index will answer many common questions consumers have about their insurance. The Insurance Department receives 30,000 phone calls a year from consumers and many of their questions are the same, Doak said.
"Consumers don't know what they don't know," said Sen. Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso. "Consumers have rights. You need to know what your rights are."
Doak said the guide will be posted on his agency's website, which is visited by about one million consumers a year, and will be available in a variety of other ways.
"It's a quick read for those people on the consumer side of things," said Rep. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore.
Among other things, the guide spells out consumer rights when claims are accepted or denied, the cancellation of insurance policies and complaints filed against insurers.
- Natural Phenomena