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Insurance commissioner: If April showers bring May flowers, get flood insurance

By Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready

As a resident of Tulsa for the past 25 years, it was devastating to watch our neighbors’ homes destroyed in May 2019. It was emotional because it was not just the building itself they lost, but also the contents. When my boys and I went out to help clean the waterlogged neighborhoods, we found pictures, keepsakes, kids’ drawings and letters from loved ones—all things that can’t be replaced. We are back to April two years later and I want all Oklahomans to ask themselves if they have the necessary insurance coverage to mitigate its consequences. 

During the late hours of April 30 and the morning of May 1, 17 tornadoes struck Oklahoma. The storm carried 5 to 6 inches of rainfall. Thousands of Oklahomans were devastated by flooding resulting in more than $31 million in estimated losses. More than 6,000 flood claims were reported. Unfortunately, many residents did not have flood insurance and some of them are still trying to recover today. 

As April showers bring May flowers, I’m encouraging Oklahomans to Get Ready now and prepare for the worst. Flooding can cause catastrophic damage, and preparation now will lead to a better recovery later. Here are three important reasons to consider flood insurance today: 

You Live in Oklahoma. Flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States. While most standard homeowners policies cover tornadoes, hail, and wildfires, they do NOT cover floods. There is at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding in high-risk areas during a 30-year mortgage.  

30-Day Waiting Period. It typically takes 30 days for a flood policy to go into effect, so the time to buy is well before a disaster. That is why you need to purchase or renew flood insurance well in advance. Waiting until you see the water rushing is too late. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) today.  

Cost of Flooding. Flooding can be an emotionally and financially devastating event. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an inch of water in a home could cause more than $27,000 in damages. About 33% of all flood claims come from outside of high-risk areas. In 2019 nationally, the average flood insurance claim payment was $53,301while the average flood insurance premium payment was $674. 

While we cannot prevent another flood from occurring, we can get our state financially prepared for the damage when it hits. Let’s make sure that Oklahomans understand their flood risk. As I always like to remind folks… If it rains where you live, it can flood where you live.

If you have questions about other insurance issues, please contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071 or visit our website at www.oid.ok.gov.