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Assurant Explains Its Forced-Place Insurance Practices Amid Scrutiny

NU Online News Service, April 13, 9:58 a.m. EDT

Assurant Insurance Company’s specialty-property unit defended its forced-place-insurance practices, saying that, among other protections, it seeks to ensure that consumers are “well-informed” about their force-placed coverage.

The comments by Robert Byrd, senior director, communications at Assurant’s specialty-property unit, follow an announcement by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that it is drafting new regulations governing the insurance product.

Additionally, the New York Department of Financial Services said it plans to hold a hearing in May about forced-place insurance, and has asked nine underwriters, including two Assurance subsidiaries, to provide financial and other data regarding its issuance of these policies.

“We agree with the importance of ensuring consumers are well informed, with clear communication about their lender-placed coverage,” Assurant’s Byrd says.

He says that is why Assurant follows an extensive notification process before a policy is placed, with a large team of customer-service professionals who make extensive efforts to verify insurance.

“Every customer is contacted multiple times, alerted to a possible lapse, and reminded to restore coverage,” he explains.

He adds that in the event a policy is placed, all the homeowner has to do is show proof of continuous coverage, and the lender-placed policy is cancelled at no charge.

“Many of the suggestions being proposed for lender-placed insurance track the practices we have in place today,” Byrd says.

“As a leader in the industry, we have had productive discussions with the CFPB, and look forward to continuing to work in the best interest of consumers,” he states.

Speaking for Zurich, which has two subsidiaries that have been asked to provide information to the New York DFS, Steve McKay, media and public relations director for Zurichin North America, says Zurich has “and will continue to cooperate with the [NY DFS] inquiry.”

The regulations being drafted by the CFPB would give consumers more rights, including requiring servicers to give advance notice and pricing information before charging consumers for this insurance.

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