New York Obtains Major Lender-Placed Insurance Settlement

Posted on March 25th, 2013 in Mortgages, State Issues By BuckleySandler

On March 21, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced that it obtained a settlement from a major lender-placed insurer to resolve an investigation into the company’s practices. According to the DFS, the insurer allegedly drove up the price of lender-placed insurance by effectively offering banks a share in its profits by: (i) paying commissions to insurance agents and brokers affiliated with the banks even though the agents and brokers did not perform the customary tasks that would justify a commission, (ii) paying banks’ “expenses” related to lender-placed insurance, (iii) paying lump sum amounts, such as one bank’s $1 million termination fee for switching its business to another insurer, and (iv) allowing a reinsurance company owned by a bank to take as much as 75 percent of the premium. The DFS cited the insurer’s low loss ratio as evidence of how profitable lender-placed insurance has been for the insurer. The settlement agreement requires the insurer pay restitution to borrowers who were lender-placed after January 1, 2008 and meet certain criteria, as well as a $14 million penalty. The insurer also must (i) take specific steps to lower the cost of non-flood lender-placed insurance, (ii) cease numerous delineated practices, (iii) provide improved disclosures and notices to borrowers; (iv) improve its email retention policy; and (v) ensure that the amount of coverage lender-placed on any homeowner does not exceed the last known amount of coverage.

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