Customers learn they don't have insurance

October 13, 2008 1:00:43 PM PDT
Some Pasadena hurricane victims who thought insurance would cover their damage are discovering a terrible secret. RELATED
- Statement from insurance company
- Hurricane Ike produces 76,000 damage claims

Their insurance agent is under investigation for allegedly taking money for windstorm insurance policies, and then not sending the premiums to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency.

Before Hurricane Ike hit, insurance agent Darryl Golter appeared to be like any other agent. Now his office is shut down, his home is for sale and Golter is under investigation for selling windstorm insurance policies but not forwarding the premiums to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency.

One customer told us he's been left without coverage. A sign on Darryl Golter's office directs his customers to another agent. A sign outside Golter's Pasadena home lists it for sale.

When we called the number on the house for sale sign, a woman who identified herself as Darryl's mother told us Golter was in Dallas. When we said we were with Channel 13, she hung up. Moments later, a woman identified by neighbors as Golter's mother, stopped in front of the home and ripped down the for sale sign. She also tried to rip a piece of paper about the for sale house out of my hand.

WATCH WHAT HAPPENS WHEM WOMAN DRIVES UP

One of Golter's customers is talking about the payments he says he made to the agent.

"He was supposed to fund it to Texas Windstorm but, evidently he took off with it or spent it," said customer Dr. John Watkins.

This is the way windstorm insurance works in Texas. Customers pay their insurance agent, who then sends the money on to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency to purchase the policy.

The Texas Department of Insurance is investigating whether Golter was taking the money, but not passing it on to the insurance agency as his customers allege.

Dr. Watkins first heard of a problem Friday when he got a call from investigators.

"I funded that in January, she said, 'well it is not in the system, you do not have it' and I said 'my agent is Darryl Golter' and she said he is under investigation right now," Watkins said.

Officials with the Texas Department of Insurance confirm an investigation into Golter is underway. In the meantime they tell consumers who thought they had insurance coverage to call FEMA if they have damage caused by Hurricane Ike.

Officials with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency tell me they are currently changing the payment structure to allow direct payments by consumers, a move the agency says will help eliminate fraud.

The American National Insurance Company of Galveston, Texas says it appears that 75 families were affected. The company says it will offer to pay claims from Ike that would have been payable under the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association policies if they has been in force. READ MORE OF THE STATEMENT

If you know anything about this incident, please contact Jeff Ehling here.

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