CHARLES ELMORE – PALM BEACH POST

Wells Fargo Bank and insurer QBE have agreed to pay an estimated $19.25 million to more than 24,000 Florida homeowners under a proposed settlement that plaintiff attorneys call “unprecedented.”

Without admitting wrongdoing, the firms would settle claims they inflated premiums — often to five or six times above normal rates — for “force-placed” insurance. Lenders may impose such insurance in cases where a homeowner falls behind on payments or lets coverage lapse, but attorneys for homeowners have argued such charges have often been abusive and loaded with kickbacks for banks.

The proposal filed in U.S. District Court in Miami May 13 is subject to a judge’s approval, which the parties are seeking within 60 days.

Plaintiffs attorney Adam Moskowitz of Coral Gables said the settlement’s cash and credit refunds of 25 percent of premiums represent the highest percentage of any case involving force-placed insurance, to his knowledge.

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