Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak’s visit to Purcell last week was one of multi-purposes.
He met his campaign pledge to visit every county once a year - McClain County was the final one for 2012 - and it was an opportunity to familiarize Amanda Riddle of Pauls Valley with her territory as the department’s newest field representative.
Doak also visited with insurance agents in Purcell, as well as Wadley’s Funeral Home.
The department regulates 100,000 insurance agents, as well as bail bondsmen, real estate appraisers and funeral home trust accounts.
Doak said the department employs about 115 in Oklahoma City and also staffs a small office in Tulsa.
Insurance is a $15 billion market in Oklahoma, Doak said, and the department generates “about $225 million in revenue - premium taxes paid by insurance companies.”
Most of the revenue goes into pension funds for police and firefighters.
Not only is the department self-sustaining, Doak said, but last year gave back $5 million budget surplus to the state.
Doak also took the opportunity to announce a joint uninsured motorist initiative between the Oklahoma Insurance Deparment and Department of Public Safety.
The initiative is a get-tough measure aimed at getting uninsured motorists off the road.
Any driver who is stopped by police and found not to have liability insurance can expect to pay a hefty fine and have their vehicle towed.
Another responsibility of the office is ISO ratings on the state’s 1,400 fire departments. One is the best rating; 10 is the worst.
Purcell’s fire department is a four; 682 fire departments across the state are rated at nine.
The ratings are based on the following formula - firefighting ability, equipment, engines and personnel, 50 percent; water supply, 40 percent; and communications, 10 percent.
Doak said his department fields about 30,000 phone calls a year from insurance customers, in addition to 1 million hits on the website.
Much of the department’s work deals with fraud.
Fraud scams often target senior citizens, Doak said, and may involve seminars, the internet, telephone and mail solicitations.
One recent investigation in Tulsa and Wagoner counties involved a con artist who was encouraging senior citizens to exchange their life insurance annuities for fake gold certificates.
“If we can help one Oklahoma senior keep their life savings, it will be worth it,” he said.
Doak encouraged McClain County residents with insurance concerns to contact Riddle at 405-420-5398 or 800-522-0071.
She can also be reached at email@example.com.