A new law requested by Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak aims to protect Oklahoma storm victims. Senate Bill 439, signed by Gov. Mary Fallin Monday, ensures transparency and accountability in the insurance adjusting process.
“I am proud that Gov. Fallin and the Oklahoma Legislature saw the importance of this bill,” said Doak. “After a natural disaster, storm survivors are vulnerable. This new law will protect Oklahomans by making sure all public adjusters follow the same rules.”
Public adjusters are licensed insurance claims adjusters who appraise and negotiate an insurance claim on behalf of the policyholder. Unlike an insurance company adjuster, public adjusters advocate for the claimant.
Senate Bill 439, written by Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, and Rep. Randy Grau, R-Oklahoma City, specifies certain required and prohibited actions of public adjusters. It also sets requirements for contracts used by public adjusters. Some of the new rules include:
Cannot charge more than 10 percent of the total claim on a non-commercial claim after a disaster.
Must hold any insurance proceeds on behalf of the policyholder in a non-interest bearing account in a FDIC-insured bank.
Claim records must be kept for at least five years and are subject to inspection by the Insurance Commissioner.
The new law also states that unauthorized adjusting practices in the state of Oklahoma will be considered a misdemeanor.
“In light of the recent devastating storms in our communities, this legislation is as important as ever and will serve to protect our citizens when they are most vulnerable,” Grau said. “This bill is the result of the hard work and collaboration of numerous individuals including Commissioner Doak, two national public adjusting organizations, local public adjusters and consumers.”
“This common sense reform is a huge step toward protecting Oklahomans when they need it most,” Quinn said. “I’m grateful to the Insurance Commissioner and his staff for working to pass this legislation and grateful to Gov. Fallin for signing the bill.”
The law goes into effect November 1.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.