Assurant to Pay Restitution to Massachusetts Homeowners

December 21, 2015

The largest force-placed insurer in Massachusetts has agreed to provide refunds to homeowners to settle allegations that it improperly charged for force-placed insurance policies, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said.

Under the terms of the assurance of discontinuance, filed on Nov. 23, American Security Insurance, a subsidiary of Assurant Inc., will refund premiums to thousands of Massachusetts homeowners who were allegedly required to purchase unnecessary or overpriced force-placed insurance policies.

“We will not allow consumers to be overcharged for insurance products they do not need and will continue to seek accountability from mortgage servicers and their business partners, including force-placed insurance carriers,” Healey said.

The settlement provides full refunds for the periods of duplicative insurance coverage for any person who had acceptable homeowners insurance at the same time he or she was force-placed by a mortgage servicer. The settlement also requires refunds for policyholders who were overcharged for force-placed insurance policies because they were mistakenly sold commercial policies rather than less expensive residential policies.

The attorney general’s office said it will conduct an audit to identify eligible Massachusetts homeowners. To date, the attorney general has identified “thousands of potentially improper charges” that could result in millions of dollars in relief to homeowners. Aside from amounts identified in the audit, the agreement also requires Assurant to pay $565,000 to the state.

Lenders or mortgage servicers often rely on force-placed insurers like Assurant to monitor whether borrowers have maintained appropriate insurance coverage. When a borrower is believed to have failed to maintain appropriate coverage, the insurer issues a force-placed insurance policy and the mortgage servicer charges the premium for the policy to the borrower.

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Insurance Journal West December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015
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