The Norman Transcript

News Features

June 7, 2013

Tornado victims ‘bullied’

NORMAN — Tornado victims should not be bullied into signing contracts, said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak Thursday at Moore City Hall. High pressure sales and bullying are the most common complaints being registered by victims following recent storms.

“Take a deep breath, take a step back when these individuals approach you,” Doak said. “Make sure they have credentials.”

So far 32,000 insurance claims have been filed and $250 million advanced to customers by insurance companies since tornadoes began hitting the state on May 19. The Norman-Little Axe area was among affected communities, but the heaviest damage was in Moore — also a Cleveland County community — where an F-5 tornado tore through 14 city miles on May 20. Two weeks later, another F-5 hit El Reno in Canadian County on May 31.

“Unfortunately, those (insurance) dollars are often the target of scams,” Doak said.

With thousands of Oklahoma homes damaged in the violent spring weather this year, con artists will be drawn to the area, he warned.

In Moore, all contractors are required to have a license from the city as well as a state license. The city has issued 257 licenses so far.

Doak warned people to be leery of anyone going door-to-door in damaged areas offering clean up or repair services.

“While many are honest and responsible, many are not,” he said.

Contractors who are not licensed and bonded may do shoddy work. Valid insurance adjusters have cards issued by the Insurance Commission.

When hiring a roofer or contractor, Doak said to ask for and check all references, compare prices and ask to see the person’s driver’s license. Write down the name and driver’s license and take down the vehicle tag number as well.

“Never sign a contract with blanks,” Doak said. “And never pay in full until all of the work has been completed.”

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