Greg B. Smith, NY Daily News
UNEMPLOYED SOCIAL worker Mary Burton had never heard the term “forced place insurance” when the monthly mortgage payments on her modest Staten Island home suddenly shot up from $864 to $1,297.
Her homeowner’s insurance had lapsed, and her lender, Citibank, had automatically tacked on new — much more expensive — insurance to her mortgage. She’s now fighting to dodge foreclosure.
“I’m sitting on the edge of the precipice now,” Burton, 62, said Thursday at a state Department of Financial Services hearing looking at the growing number of complaints about price-gouging in this obscure brand of insurance.
DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky noted a “huge uptick” in this extremely expensive insurance where premiums are up to 10 times the usual rates.
The phenomenon took off after the housing market collapsed in 2008 and more homeowners fell behind on insurance payments.
Maria and Bill Massanet, retirees living in Staten Island, dodged foreclosure in 2011, but were then hit with “forced place insurance” from QBE Insurance — even though their homeowner’s insurance hadn’t expired.
Repeatedly they told QBE they already had coverage, but their mortgage still jumped from $1,542 to $1,900 per month.