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Policy Exclusions Can Lead to Pretty Serious Disputes: It’s Time to Review Your Coverage


Oklahoma has been shaking and quaking for a few years now. On top of the instability coming from fracking, a new fault line was discovered in the aftermath of the 5.8 quake that hit earlier in September. The chances of seismic activity decreasing seem slim, so this is a good time to review your homeowners’ insurance policy for possible exclusions or gaps, in case of a life-altering event.

Most Oklahomans do not carry earthquake insurance, according to the Insurance Journal, but everyone should – even those who don’t live close to the oil fields. Most policies do not cover quakes, so you need to buy a separate policy for them, or pay for an endorsement on your current policy. Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak points out that because of “the possibility of aftershocks, insurance companies may impose a waiting period anywhere from 72 hours to 60 days after an earthquake, depending on the magnitude.”

Here is the thing: your policy, even with earthquake coverage, may not be enough. In the insurance business, they call it “anti-concurrent causation;” basically, it means that in the event of, say, an earthquake, you experience flooding in your home, but your homeowner’s policy only covers quakes, not floods, you may be denied for all of your damage.

Which exclusions should I look out for?

Aside from flooding, which may or may not be available to you, you should also check your policy to see if you are covered for:

  • Burst pipes
  • Electrical shorts leading to fire damage
  • Sewage backups
  • Slow leaks caused by unseen/undetected structural damage
  • Mold or other toxic materials

It really is critical that you double and triple check your policies, in case you’re missing coverage for a vulnerable area. Your agent should identify any gaps in coverage and explain to you what each additional policy costs and covers.

Bringing a bad faith action

If you do have all the proper insurance policies and endorsements, and your insurer still refuses to pay out your claim, you may have grounds for a bad faith action. Our attorneys use evidence to show that your claim should have been accepted and paid out, but was denied because:

  • Your agent failed to disclose any gaps in coverage you might have, or what your policy limits are
  • Your insurance application was never filed, thus leaving you without insurance
  • The insurance company does not want to pay, so they sent your claim around in circles and created obstacles to avoid payment
  • You were specifically told your insurance would cover damage from a variety of events, when it does not

These are all examples of bad faith, but they are not the only ones – not by a long shot. Oklahoma policyholders have rights, and the Stipe Law Firm fights to uphold them. If your sustained damage because of an earthquake, a flood, high winds etc., and your claim has been denied despite your having the appropriate insurance – or you were led to believe you did – our Oklahoma insurance dispute attorney can help. Please call (918) 505-7741 or fill out our contact form, and schedule your free consultation in our McAlester-based office today. You have enough to worry about; leave the heavy lifting to us.