A forum on Oklahoma Business Transfers was conducted in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 21, 2018. The conference featured speakers from the insurance industry with expertise in business transfers as well as runoff business.

The discussion was interesting.  The panel compared the new Oklahoma laws with the Part VII transfer familiar to the London insurance market.  Oklahoma’ model became effective in November, 2018, and mimics Part VII.

Members of the legal team of the Oklahoma Insurance Department, along with the Commissioner, spoke about the history of the legislation.  The panel discussed the guidance the insurance department is providing to insurers wanting to make use of the new law. Obviously supportive of the new legislation, the insurance department is working to assist insurers who wish to transfer business with the intended result of legal finality.

Time will tell how the industry reacts to the new transfer act and the courts’ approach to the process.

The appraisal process uses a panel to settle a claim.The typical homeowner’s insurance policy has a clause allowing the parties to use appraisal to resolve disputes. The process is intended to quickly and economically determine the amount of a loss in cases of disagreement. Like many aspects of Oklahoma law, the use of a three person panel should be approached with the advice of an experienced attorney. The Oklahoma appellate decisions heavily impact the outcome.

In simple terms, appraisal involves three parties that serve as a panel.

Each side chooses someone to act as a disinterested appraiser. Then, the two appraisers choose the third person, known as the Umpire, by agreement. If the two appraisers are not able to pick the Umpire by agreement, then either side can ask the court to select the Umpire.

Continue Reading Using Appraisal To Settle Oklahoma Insurance Claims

Tornado damage leads to many Oklahoma insurance claims.

So far, 2018 is a notable exception to the number of tornadoes and the extent of the reported tornado damage. The National Weather Service reports there have been 18 tornadoes this year; the strongest being an EF2 and only one reported with this wind speed and strength.

Tornadoes cause so much destruction and damage to property in Oklahoma.

This is great news for Oklahoma property owners and insurers. Tornado damage to property costs insurance companies a lot of money in claims.

Hopefully the lack of damages and claims will give everyone a bit of a financial break for 2018.


The typical Oklahoma business manages a considerable part of its liability risks by purchasing insurance coverage. Businesses sometimes take their insurance coverage for granted.  They just assume insurance will be there if an accident happens.

It is not a wise risk management practice to simply assume you will have coverage for every situation.

A recent decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court brings the point home. In Siloam Springs Hotel, LLC v. Century Surety Company, 2017 OK 14, a hotel purchased liability coverage to protect against accidents and negligence. Century Surety Company sold the insurance policy.

Guests at the hotel were injured when carbon monoxide entered the air ducts due to leakage from the heater for the indoor swimming pool. The hotel believed it had insurance to cover the claims and potential lawsuits. However, the insurance company said there was no insurance to cover the injuries.  Apparently, there was an exclusion in the insurance policy.

Continue Reading Motels, Apartment Complexes, Restaurants, And Businesses Serving People Should Manage Risks


The plaintiffs, Walker Bark and Debra Yahquo, signed two contracts with Lake Country Chevrolet to purchase automobiles. A disagreement arose over the vehicles. Unable to resolve the dispute to their satisfaction, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit. They asked the court to rescind (set aside) the contracts and to recover damages for fraud by the car dealer. The car dealership filed a motion to compel arbitration to avoid litigation in court. Further, the dealership argued that the contracts signed by the plaintiffs said any disputes were to be determined through arbitration, not a lawsuit.

The plaintiffs responded asserting that Mr. Bark suffered from a service-related disability and cognitive impairment.  Because of this, he did not knowingly agree to any of the terms of the contract including the arbitration clause. As an alternative, the plaintiffs requested the court hold a hearing where it could hear evidence on the issue of whether cognitive impairment existed and the affect, if any, it had on the plaintiffs’ ability to comprehend the contract. However, the trial court refused to hold a hearing or hear evidence.  Instead, the court denied the dealership’s motion and allowed the lawsuit to proceed.

arbitration2As a result, the dealership appealed the decision. The appellate court reversed the ruling of the trial court and remanded the case back to the trial court with instructions that it conduct an evidentiary hearing. As part of this hearing, the trial court was instructed to make a determination as to the existence of the Plaintiffs’ mental capacity and ability to knowingly enter into a contract and agree to arbitration.

Bark v. Lake Country Chevrolet Cadillac, LLC, 2014 OK CIV APP 24, 321 P.3d 1007.

Arbitration clauses are present in many contracts as a means to resolve disputes.

Legal scholars disagree over the advantages/disadvantages of arbitration. For businesses, one benefit can be the confidentiality of the proceeding and the absence of any public proceedings that other customers might discover. However, a disadvantage is that the courts are provided at taxpayer expense to everyone. In arbitration, the participants are actually paying for the services of a private decision maker. The courts will generally require arbitration if it appears the parties to the contract agreed to do so.

If you have questions about a contract, arbitration, or you need legal assistance with another legal problem, maybe we can help you. Contact us now!

A grass fire burns March 7 in Harper County, Oklahoma. (KOKH/Steven Anderson)

Fires in northwest Oklahoma have damaged more than 800,000 acres.

The extent and size of the area damaged is hard for many of us to comprehend. As a couple of measuring sticks, there are 640 acres in one square mile. You would have to jog four miles to go around a section of land with 640 acres in it. If you divide 800,000 acres by 640, then you have 1,250 sections of land if each parcel was a separate property. When you consider the Boston marathon is considered a grueling 26 mile run, the entire race would be less than 8 sections if you ran around them one at a time.

Many people in Tulsa and Oklahoma City shop for homes with acreage to have a little space from their neighbors. Often, these properties sit on 2.5 acre or 5 acre lots. People who mow their 5 acre yards know how long it takes in the Summer months to mow 5 acres even on a yard tractor or riding mower.

The size of this fire and the amount of the damage is difficult to imagine. The photographs from the news account shows the entire skyline lit with fire. At night the specter of the fire becomes more real against the night sky.

Fire in Oklahoma is always serious, but rarely this widespread.

According to a recent news report, a car drove into the Silver Dollar Restaurant in Collinsville, Oklahoma.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.

 In a news account by Emory Bryan with the above photograph, she reported:

The police started an investigation, but witnesses told them the car that went inside first grazed another car, went over a curb and through the intersection before it hit the Silver Dollar Cafe.

“It didn’t really look like he slowed down until he hit the building, enough force to go right inside it,” witness Gary Nunley said.

Nunley was across the street on the sidewalk.

“Surprised me to see that, but when I saw the whole front of the building collapse, implode, and a huge cloud of dust roll across the street. . . .”

The car was barely visible under the roof with a large beam down on the trunk.

A firefighter told News On 6 the car knocked down the main support pillar at the front of the building. He said the next support pillar is what stopped the car.

The event offers all sorts of potential insurance issues.

The driver should have liability insurance coverage for property damage. Of course, the minimum limits of insurance coverage in Oklahoma require only $25,000 of insurance. The photograph shows extensive damage to the building.  However, the news report does not estimate the damages.  It is unknown if there is sufficient liability insurance to pay for everything.

Damage alone isn’t enough to require the auto liability insurer to pay for the loss. The driver must have also been negligent in some fashion. Hitting a building with your car leads to an assumption that proper attention wasn’t being paid. Nonetheless, negligence must be proven for there to be responsibility for the accident.

The police investigation will reveal more, but the obvious questions are “what was the driver doing, and where was he going?”. If the driver was working in the scope of his employment, then the employer may have some potential exposure to the damages by virtue of the employment status. Depending on the type of coverage of the employer, there might or might not be coverage for the losses.

Assuming the restaurant leased or rented the space, there could be a question about division of the liability insurance. For example, if the building was owned by someone other than the restaurant, there may be disputing claims for the available insurance. The building owner would potentially have a claim for structural damage while the restaurant might have its own claims for damaged equipment and downtime.

If the building was owned by someone other than the restaurant, the owner may have property damage insurance providing protection. We constantly advise our business clients to purchase insurance for the unexpected circumstances. Here is just one more example. One could assume the building owner went to bed the night before without any concern a car was going to crash into the structure the next morning.

The restaurant, like most businesses, hopefully purchased property insurance with some form of business interruption coverage. The insurance policy would usually cover the business personal property allowing replacement of the items. However, loss of revenue while the facility is closed is another matter. Business interruption claims can be a little more complicated than property damage to equipment, chairs, and tables.

Still yet is the vehicle and the damage to it.  The owner, who may or may not be the driver, may have collision coverage for the car. If so, payment may be available for the vehicle. Of course some people elect not to buy collision coverage if there isn’t a loan on the vehicle.

We haven’t touched on health insurance, disability insurance, or workers’ compensation insurance. All three types of insurance might be implicated depending upon the facts and circumstances.  The various insurance companies who pay the claims will probably want to subrogate or sue to recover the amounts they have to pay.

It’s amazing how many types of insurance can come into play with a simple automobile accident with no bodily injuries.

Everyone needs insurance for those unforeseen emergencies.


You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl! A woman burned down an apartment building causing reportedly $2 Million in damages. She was cleaning a squirrel for dinner by using a propane torch to remove the fur. A lot of folks enjoy squirrel, but they don’t like the cleaning and skinning part. This was first time we had heard about using a propane torch.

Well, here are a couple of takeaways for you:

  • Renter’s insurance is a great idea, you never know when a fire will occur.
  • Apartment owners need to make sure they have sufficient coverage limits.
  • There always a better way to skin a squirrel, well maybe?


The fire claim you have isn’t finished and its almost the beginning of storm season in March. You really don’t need a double claim involving fire and storm damages. It’s hard enough to settle one claim. It’s a lot more complicated to resolve two claims to the same property.

Insurance claims for loss of property or damage seemed more predictable in previous years.

It used to be that fires and the resulting insurance claims were over by March. It didn’t mean there weren’t fire claims, but historically there seemed to be more fires in the winter.  But, the winter rains and the warmer weather may not have come soon enough .  This year, however, fire officials are warning the drought has left the vegetation drier than normal.  Consequently, winds create the danger of grass fires and wild fires. 

Living in Oklahoma, you know that March – June tends to be the time of year for hail, tornadoes, strong winds, lightning, and all sorts of storm damage. These storms almost always produce a large number of insurance claims as a rule.

While tornadoes and fire are always the most dreaded property insurance claims due to the obvious dangers, hail accounts for a lot of damage. As an example, driving in to work there’s an RV dealership with what looks to be $7 – 9 Million in inventory. One hail storm could be devastating if hit there.

Hail4Car dealers, RV dealers, and all types of commercial coach and trailer distributors are wise to carry sufficient dealer open lot coverage to protect against hail. Homeowners and vehicle owners should make sure their property is properly covered. Some people prefer not to pay for comprehensive coverage for their older vehicles, but one hail storm can total a car.

We sometimes ask, “what other piece of property worth $6,500 do you leave sitting outside in the driveway uninsured?”.

Our law firm doesn’t sell insurance.  Likewise, we do not receive any commissions for recommending people to carry insurance coverage. We routinely see all kinds of insurance claims and disputes over losses.

It is sad to hear about those situations where people or business suffer damages without adequate insurance.

If you have questions or issue involving insurance coverage or bad faith, consider contacting us to discuss the situation.

Storm2Property insurance is the buffer to storms and the damages caused. Oklahoma is home to torrential rainfall, hail, high winds, and tornadoes. When spring begins, these storms can cause a lot of damage to homes. Wind and hail can damage roofs, tornadoes can demolish a house. Rain can quickly cause water damage if it enters the home. Thunderstorms caused over $10 billion in losses in the Spring of 2013. Thankfully insurance can be purchased to help in the event a storm causes damage to a home.

But, not all insurance policies are equal.

Some insurance policies will include coverage where others have exclusions. The policy language differs. Therefore, it is important to know the exclusions and limitations of the insurance policy under consideration. Generally, homeowners insurance policies cover more than just damage from a storm.  It is a good idea to know what other damages are covered.

Most policies will typically cover damage to a roof caused by high winds blowing off the shingles. If a hail storm causes damage to a roof, an insurance poliStorm5cy will commonly provide coverage for the damage caused by hail. However, an insurance policy may exclude some types of damage. Insurance adjusters inspect the property and determine the cause of the damage. The damage caused by a storm will be paid under the insurance policy terms and conditions.

Homeowners policies typically cover tornado damage. Whether the storm caused damage by high winds, falling trees or other objects, or building collapse a policy will likely allow for repair to the home. Many insurance policies allow for payment of additional living expenses if a home is totally destroyed or becomes uninhabitable due to a storm. Additional living expenses, or ALE, are often viewed as the increase in cost to live while repairs are being done. Additional living expense can include the cost of a hotel room plus any increase in the cost of food from eating out.

Thunderstorms with lightning can be a real hazard too. Lightning strikes can cause fires or cause electrical equipment to fail. An insurance policy may or may not cover lightning strikes. If lightning strikes and causes your power to fail and this causes damage, many insurance companies exclude the power failure. Damage caused by storm or wind driven rain is another area typically covered by homeowners insurance. However, it is important to differentiate between water damage caused by flood damage. A homeowners policy will usually not cover flooding. Flood insurance is a separate kind of insurance.

Coverage for damage caused by storms can be vast and complex, and insurance policies can be genuinely hard to understand.

Hiring an Oklahoma attorney who is experienced in insurance law is the best way to ensure you have an understanding of what the policy covers, what the exclusions are, and what the limitations are. Our Tulsa-based law office has worked insurance coverage matters all over the state of Oklahoma.