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Oklahoma Concerned Over Earthquake Coverage Denials

March 4, 2015 AAIS Advisory notice

A recent bulletin from Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak expresses concern over the "extraordinary denial rate of earthquake claims" over the past two years. According to the bulletin, approximately 100 claims for earthquake damage were filed in Oklahoma in 2014, but only eight were paid.

Doak writes that he is concerned that insurers are invoking exclusions in earthquake policies for "man-made" earthquakes based on a still "unsupported belief" that hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and water disposal injection wells cause earthquakes.

In light of that, Doak writes that he is "considering market conduct examinations to ascertain the facts" concerning the overall denial rate of earthquake claims, as well as denial of earthquake claims on the basis of exclusions for pre-existing damage.

If an insurer intends to invoke exclusions for pre-existing damage, Doak says that "I expect that the insurer has inspected the property prior to inception of the coverage."

The bulletin concludes by stating that licensed insurers in Oklahoma are expected to ensure that their claims adjusters receive adequate training in the complex and specialized nature of earthquake claims.

AAIS Advisory notices are posted periodically to announce AAIS product developments, and to provide news items that are relevant to our program users. Advisory notices are news summaries that paraphrase documents which should be consulted directly for complete, authoritative information. 

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