The Real Deal New York

Regulator questions Ocwen Group’s insurance deal

State's top banking cop wants to know if policies are enriching Ocwen while hurting homeowners

August 04, 2014 02:45PM

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From left: Benjamin Lawsky and Ocwen CEO Ronald Faris

From left: Benjamin Lawsky and Ocwen CEO Ronald Faris

New York state’s top banking regulator is questioning whether subprime loan servicer Ocwen Group is enriching itself through an insurance program, potentially at the expense of at-risk homeowners.

Department of Financial Services superintendent Benjamin Lawsky sent a letter to Ocwen regarding an arrangement brokered by its affiliate, Altisource, to provide a type of homeowner coverage called force-placed insurance, Reuters reported.  Banks and lenders often take out force-placed policies on properties that lack coverage or are insufficiently covered, according to the news agency.

Since premiums are passed on to homeowners, Lawsky worries that it’s in Ocwen’s interest to choose force-placed insurance with high premiums, which could push borrowers who are already on the brink into foreclosure.

“Ocwen hired Altisource to design Ocwen’s new force-placed program with the expectation and intent that Altisource would use this opportunity to steer profits to itself,” Lawsky said in a letter cited by Bloomberg News.

Last year, Ocwen settled a case over alleged homeowner fraud with the U.S. government for $2.1 billion. [Reuters] and [Bloomberg News]Tom DiChristopher

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