By Glen Mulready
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner
Recovering from a disaster can be difficult and stressful. Most natural disasters happen unexpectedly and can have a significant impact on your mental and physical health.
Fortunately, the State of Oklahoma has excellent disaster assistance resources. Knowing how to access them makes the recovery process faster and less stressful.
This Mulready Says Get Ready Part III: After the Storm offers general advice on what to do after a disaster. Here are three important post-disaster steps to remember:
1. Take care of yourself and your family.
Your first concern after a disaster is the health and safety of your family. Check for injuries and seek medical help for any injured family members.
If the storm destroyed your home, business, or personal property, be aware that cleaning up and repairing the damage can be physically, mentally, and financially challenging.
Inform your local authorities of any damage you may have and any immediate help you may need, such as food and shelter. You can report flood and storm damage to pity.ok.gov.
For non-emergency disasters or health and social services information, please contact your local 2-1-1. Services are available 24 hours a day.
2. Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.
Document all your damage before cleaning. Take photos or videos and make a list. Check out our free home inventory checklist if you haven’t created a home inventory.
Keep all your receipts for repairs and disaster cleanup.
Contact your insurance agent to start the claims process as soon as possible.
Work with your adjuster and complete proof of loss to support your claim.
3. Be aware of post-disaster frauds and scams.
DO NOT give out any personal information such as your social security number or bank account number unless you are sure they are safe. Local officials, state and federal workers like FEMA inspectors never need this information to provide services.
Beware of people knocking on doors or calling homeowners claiming to be building contractors. They may be scammers, especially if they ask for financial information.
Report suspicious activity to local authorities and the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721. You can also contact the Oklahoma Department of Insurance Anti-Fraud Unit at [email protected] or 1-800-522-0071.
To help Oklahomans prepare for this stormy season, I’ve released the three-part chronicle series—Mulready Says Prepare: Before, During, and After the Storm. This comprehensive series will provide general preparedness advice before, during and after disasters. To visit www.oid.ok.gov/news to consult the columns Part I: Before the storm and Part II: During the storm. Also be sure to listen to our podcast Mulready Minutes Episode 10: The Readiness Movement, Parts I & 2 on www.oid.ok.gov/podcast to learn how to prepare for severe weather. For more disaster preparedness resources: www.oid.ok.gov/getready.
If you have questions about other insurance issues, please contact the Oklahoma Department of Insurance at 1-800-522-0071 or visit our website at www.oid.ok.gov.