MIAMI — It’s been a hectic 18 months-plus since Glen Mulready took office as Oklahoma’s 13th insurance commissioner.
“We had second most tornadoes in the history of Oklahoma, we had the worst flooding in the history of Oklahoma and now the pandemic. So it’s been an ‘exciting’ year and a half,” Mulready told members of the Miami Noon Lions Club Friday.
He met with local insurance agents and visited the Miami Fire Department prior to the Lions’ meeting at Northeastern A&M.
Mulready has been trying to clear up the misconception about flood insurance.
While it's a very well known item in Miami and Ottawa County, there still are many who don’t understand that it is.
“I think there is a lot of misunderstanding in the marketplace, maybe not as much as here in Miami and other places like that which are more familiar with flood insurance,” Mulready said. “But very basically, we try to educate consumers that your homeowners’ policy does not cover flood. I like to oversimplify it and just tell people if water comes in your house through a window, through the roof or a pipe burst, that is covered by your homeowners. But once it (water) hits the ground, its no longer covered by the homeowners’ policy.”
Mulready, a former state representative from Tulsa, became the 13th Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner in 2019.
Mulready said he toured portions of Sand Springs that was devastated by flooding last year.
“I talked to a number of folks that told me that had flood insurance. Their bank notified them that they no longer were required to carry it, and they drop it,” said Mulready, whose office has 125 employees, divided between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. “Those people had at least 4 feet of water in their house.”
He also saw the widespread flooding in Webbers Falls that forced the Sequoyah County town to be evacuated for almost two weeks.
The day after it reopened, he toured the area with emergency management personnel.
“This 70-something year old couple was trying to clean up, but you could see by the water line, they’d had about 8 feet of water in their house,” Mulready said. “It was their retirement home, fully paid for — and they didn’t have flood insurance. I was practically crying in their yard with them.”
Before the storm season in the spring, the commissioner’s office launched a “Mulready says get ready” campaign to educate those across the state about taking an inventory of what is in the house and if they have flood insurance.
“It was kind of corny, but catchy,” he said. “That carries into a lot of things, about retirement or life insurance. You’ve got to be ready. You’ve got to be prepared.
“We’ve used that with flood insurance quite a bit, too, with consumers.”
His office is responsible for a wide range of units, including anti-fraud, bail bonds, real estate appraisers and senior health issues.
Mulready said the OID works closely with the Attorney General’s office.
There were a record 149 tornadoes in Oklahoma in 2019 and despite the pandemic, 2020 has been quite eventful.
According to the National Weather Service, there have been 34 in the state as of June — none in Ottawa County.
On an upbeat note, there have been fewer earthquakes in the state
“The good news on earthquakes is they are down quite substantially; trickles of those but nothing substantially as we did just a few years ago,” he said.
“I checked in with them recently and they were down 80%. I checked our records the other day and we have not received a consumer earthquake complaint since 2018.”