Proposed Bill Could Impact Private Insurance Adjusters In Oklahoma

Monday, February 23rd 2015, 11:30 pm
By: News 9

Lawmakers are working to change the rules when it comes to fighting insurance companies, impacting many Oklahomans including disaster victims.

Senate Bill 439 passed the committee, but some fear it could really hinder people from getting all the insurance money that is owed to them.

In Oklahoma we deal with it all; many natural disasters and then the aftermath of trying to put everything back together.

Theresa Ramsey and her husband James said they are still doing that. Their home was blown away in the May 2013 El Reno tornado.

“You are just so devastated and to try to think of everything that you've lost,” she said. “It's almost impossible.”

They worked with their insurance company to get their claim to rebuild, but they didn't get all they were entitled to at first until the hired a private insurance adjuster to advocate for them.

Most of the time, private adjusters fight to get thousands of dollars more to homeowners than they would have gotten otherwise. Brown O'Haver Adjusters worked with hundreds of Oklahomans after the Moore and El Reno tornadoes including the Ramsey family.

“Some insurance companies offered 30 percent up front. Some insurance companies offered 60 percent up front. Some didn't offer anything,” Brown O'Haver Regional Manager Alice Young said.

Initially the Ramsey's collected $121,000, but their private adjuster got them $80,000 more.

However, Senate Bill 439 could put a stop to that by prohibiting someone from hiring a private adjuster until after a final settlement is made, and according to Young making businesses like hers take a very low fee.

She said she believes the bill means well.

“It's important for us to protect Oklahomans from bad people from out of state just like we want to protect them from bad contractors and bad roofers and all these other things that are happening,” Young said.

However, Young doesn't mean you eliminate them, much like she said she believes bill 439 will do to private adjusters.

News 9 was told the bill was proposed by the insurance department after complaints of public adjusters taking unfair fees.

News 9 tried contacting the author of the bill, but nobody returned our calls.