Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 13, 2012

State official works to stay in touch

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Pauls Valley was one of many stops as Oklahoma's insurance commissioner looks to stay in touch with all of the state by visiting all 77 counties each year.

John Doak told the PV Democrat his annual tour through the state allows him to talk about the issues that need attention.

The tour, he said, is also something he is committed to doing while serving as the state's insurance commissioner.

“My commitment to Oklahoma is to go to every county each year while I'm in office,” Doak said during his visit to Pauls Valley.

“The one reason we're here is to have relationships with communities,” he said.

“There are a lot of issues going on. We work to help people understand the issues.”

Doak said he knows there are a lot of people with questions about insurance as his office receives plenty of phone calls and online hits on the website each week.

“We know consumers want to see us, and we want to be responsible for meeting their needs.”

According to Doak, there are a couple of issues right at the top when it comes to the public's concerns.

“Workers compensation is the number one issue. The number two issue is uninsured motorists driving down our highways,” he said.

“Oklahomans are tired of being involved in accidents with people who don't have insurance. Consumers are really upset about being in these accidents and it's their rates that go up.”

He's stresses there are measures being taken to move us in the right direction, such as tougher penalties for motorists caught without insurance.

“Fines are stiffer and vehicles can towed,” Doak said.

Another penalty for uninsured drivers is their licenses can also be suspended when they're caught.

Doak's office is also working with law enforcement on the issue of getting on-board systems into each patrol car allowing officers to instantly check the status of a motorist's insurance coverage.

“We're addressing public education and how to work with law enforcement on this issue,” he said.

Yet another goal is to work with rural firefighters, who Doak says he thanks for their service in battling wildfires in many rural areas over the past few weeks and months.

The thing here, he said, is to help rural areas take measures to improve their insurance ratings, which means lower insurance costs for those living in those areas.

Doak is referring to ISO ratings, which stands for Insurance Service Office ratings.

Insurance ratings are often based on the ISO information on a particular city or area. A rating of 1 is the best, while a 10 is the worst.

He says the ISO rating here in Pauls Valley is a 4, while the rural areas of Garvin County are at a 9. That high rating for rural areas is mainly due to a number of issues, such as limited funding for rural fire departments and the amount of updated equipment they use to fight fires.

“By the time I leave office if we can have our average ratings in these areas be an 8 or a 7 then I've helped a lot of people in rural Oklahoma,” Doak said.

“These are things that can be done that can help the ISO rating. It's long overdue, but what's important is we're starting to have discussions on what we can do.”

Doak adds he wants anyone with questions or concerns to contact his office or his field representative here, Amanda Riddle. Her email is amanda.riddle@oid.ok.gov or by phone call toll free at 800-522-0071.