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Insurance claims filed in response to several May tornadoes jumped to 60,308 Tuesday, with insurance payments topping $470 million, the state Insurance Department said.

“These numbers are already staggering, and this is just the beginning,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak said.

“Many of the victims haven't received their entire settlement checks yet, so that payment number will continue to go up for a while,” Doak said. “This is something the state of Oklahoma is going to be dealing with for a long time. Those affected by the storms need to know that we're here to help for as long as it takes.”

More than 29,000 homeowners claims have been filed from tornadoes of May 19-20 and of May 30-31, resulting in payments totaling more than $385 million, the agency said. More than 28,000 auto claims — private and commercial — were filed, with payments of more than $62 million.

Commercial property claims totaled 1,849 as of Tuesday, with payments exceeding $19 million. About 700 other types of claims were filed, which resulted in payments of more than $3 million, the department said.

Calls to the Oklahoma Insurance Department's consumer assistance division have risen 59 percent since the May 20 tornado. The staff also has sent out about 40 Request for Assistance forms per day since May 20. The form is available online at www.ok.gov/oid/assistance/request.php. Once the form is filed, agency representatives can investigate a complaint against an insurer.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb recognized the efforts of the agency's employees.

“You guys have been working extremely hard,” Lamb said. “From consumer assistance and licensing to legal and senior issues, you've done it all. I can't thank you enough for your dedicated service to the state of Oklahoma. You have already helped countless citizens, and I know it's just the beginning. You've been outstanding.”

The agency's licensing division has issued 2,967 licenses in the past 12 business days. That's compared to 2,723 issued in the entire month of April. The spike is mostly attributed to out-of-state adjusters being granted emergency licenses to handle the increase in claims.

Agency representatives are stationed at Westmoore High School from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Help also is available by calling (800) 522-0071.

(Source: NewsOK.com)
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