Skip to Content
Everything Else

Spineless Insurance Commissioner to Blame for Oklahoma’s Ultra-High Home Insurance Rates…

Earlier this year, I got a notice in the mail that my home insurance was increasing by about 25%, effectively making the escrow portion of my mortgage payment more than what I pay in principal and interest.

Inspired to save money, I hopped on the internet and shopped around with some of the name-brand insurance players. I was shocked to see that even with the hefty increase, my current insurance was way cheaper than what was being quoted by others.

Like everyone else in this land of red dirt, I chalked this up to just another drawback of living in Oklahoma – a hail-crazed place in the middle of tornado alley that’s resulted in my house needing three new roofs in 15 years.

Well, at least that’s what I thought. It turns out, I was only half right.

Thanks to an investigation by the NY Times, I’ve learned that expensive home insurance is another drawback to living in Oklahoma, but it’s not because of our weather.

It’s actually the result of our spineless Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready failing to protect the people he represents and rolling over and asking for a belly rub whenever insurance companies request a premium increase.

You know, Oklahoma Standard type of stuff.

Overall, the Times investigation is pretty compelling.

Backed by data, research, and good reporting, the expose’s main takeaway is that despite people in various states sharing equal risks when it comes to home damage, residents in certain red states – like Oklahoma – pay significantly more in home insurance premiums than others.

The Times went to one of their favorite Oklahoma locales – Enid – to prove this point:

Enid, Okla., surrounded by farms about 90 minutes north of Oklahoma City, has an unwelcome distinction: Home insurance is more expensive, relative to home values, than almost anywhere else in the country.

Enid is hardly the American community that is most vulnerable to damaging weather. Yet as a share of home prices, insurance costs more in parts of Enid than in New Orleans, much of which is below sea level. More than in Paradise, Calif., which was destroyed by the Camp fire in 2018. More than in the Florida Keys, which are frequently wracked by hurricanes. Even more than in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where houses have begun slipping into the rising sea.

Enid’s plight reveals an odd distortion in America’s system of pricing home insurance. As a warming planet delivers increasingly damaging weather, the cost of home insurance has jumped drastically. But companies are charging some people, especially in the middle of the country and parts of the southeast, far more than other homeowners with similar levels of risk, an examination by The New York Times has shown.

The Times also provided specific examples of how the illogical wild swings in insurance pricing that aren't grounded in logic affect Oklahomans.

According to their research, Oklahomans who live on the edges of the state pay “70 percent higher” than their neighbors who live just across the border. This is “despite [them] having similar levels of exposure to disasters, according to federal data.”

For example:

Megann Johnson is an insurance agent in Enid whose own home insurance premiums almost doubled, to $4,860 this year from $2,570 in 2021. She says her aunts, who sell insurance in nearby Kansas, tease her about what they call Oklahoma’s “stupid” high rates. “Our risk is the same, right?” Ms. Johnson said. “We’re 50 miles from the state line.”

Pretty absurd, huh? I thought I'd seen and read all the various ways to spell Megan, and that's the dumbest one yet.

Just like with everything else that’s wrong with this state, the primary blame for Oklahoma’s high home insurance rates falls on the shoulders of uninformed Oklahoma voters and the bought-and-paid-for right-wing ideological hacks they elect to public office.

According to the Times, research shows that higher premiums are being charged in states where regulators apply less scrutiny to requests for rate increases, which means in Oklahoma they’re basically able to charge whatever they want thanks to Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready.

Glen W. Mulready, Oklahoma’s elected insurance commissioner, has never exercised his power to deny a rate increase requested by an insurance company for home insurance. He said he believed that competition, not regulation, was the best way to hold down prices.

“We allow the competitive free market to work,” he said in an interview. If national companies raised rates in Oklahoma to make up losses in states like California, they would lose business to local insurers, Mr. Mulready said.

Yep, when presented with data that insurance companies are basically inflating prices for residents in Oklahoma to make up for lower premiums in other states, he sticks his head in the sand and goes with some hollow, canned ideological response.

He should have been more honest and said:

“We allow the free market to work… especially for the greedy insurance companies that are screwing over Oklahomans!”

Oh well, I guess you can’t blame him for taking that approach. If insurance companies routinely gave me money, I’d probably look the other way when they’re ripping off my neighbors and constituents, too.

For giggles, I tried digging through the Oklahoma Ethics Commission’s cumbersome, hard-to-navigate website that I think was developed in FrontPage in 2008 to see how much money Mulready has accepted from insurance companies.

Here’s a bit of what I found in my five frustrating minutes navigating the site:

Wow. Can you believe it?

An Oklahoma politician who was elected to oversee and regulate an industry is also accepting money from the industry he’s supposed to oversee and regulate!

No conflict of interest there!

If the whole Insurance Commissioner thing doesn’t work out for Glen, he should run for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. He’d fit right in!

I know most Oklahoma officials are crooked and corrupt, but this instance seems especially heinous. I hope the legitimate media fully investigates just how much money this guy has taken from insurance companies over the years.

In addition to that, on a personal vendetta note, I hope that Emily Sutton blows a hail storm in Mulready’s direction, or better yet, some guy selling home alarms steps into a sinkhole while walking through the Insurance Commish’s lawn and breaks an ankle. Might as well kill two birds with one stone!

Okay, that last one may be extreme.

In all fairness to Mulready, he has supported token legislation that won’t address the real problem – Oklahomans getting screwed over by insurance companies due to a lack of regulation – but will at least subsidize the always honest and reliable Oklahoma roofing contracting industry by issuing grants to a small number of people who want to install indestructible roofs onto their property:

Mulready's office claims grant recipients can save up to 42% on premiums, but that requires believing both insurance companies and the pet politician they donate to. Please do that at your own risk.

Anyway, you can read the full NY Times report here. It’s a nice infuriating read, and does a great job reminding us why and how Oklahoma is such a shitty state.

Also, if you’re bored and want to contact Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready’s office, and let them know your thoughts on his novel “Let the free market work, even when it isn’t” administration policy, you can contact him here.

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter