An insurance company may be in big trouble for denying claims based on a homeowner's past credit problems. WFTV Action 9, a Florida news station, has exposed the unfair tactics of Universal Property and Casualty after it denied the claim of a Seminole County family whose home was completely ravaged by a fire.
When Jose and Evelyn Vazquez lost their house in a fire, they were devastated, but hopeful that insurance would help them rebuild their life. Their fire was ruled accidental, but Universal Property and Casualty ended up denying their $400,000 claim. Universal said that Jose Vazquez did not disclose his credit problems from years ago.
When this happened, the Vazquez family contacted Action 9, who went straight to Florida's Insurance Consumer Advocate. State investigators then found 300 other cases in which Universal denied a claim based on a person's credit history. The Office of Insurance Regulation determined that Universal unjustly denied the claims. The company is now required to reopen the cases it denied, change its policies, and pay a $1.2 million fine. It was also instructed to reopen the Vazquez fire claim and only focus on the fire and the fact that it was accidental.
Jose and Evelyn Vazquez are thrilled with the ruling, especially since it has been nine months since the fire took their home. They've been living with friends since then and are happy to finally feel like they are getting the help they need.
Robin Westcott, Florida's Insurance Consumer Advocate told Universal, "You are not going to treat the consumers of our state this way, and you'll be penalized very heavily for doing so."