Insurance customers left blowing in the wind

October 13, 2008 1:00:19 PM PDT
Dozens of Hurricane Ike victims who thought they had insurance found out the hard way they are not covered at all.RELATED
- Letter to customers
- Statement from insurance company

The trouble was discovered after the storm when those with damage filed a claim, only to learn their insurance agent had apparently not given the premiums to the Texas Windstorm Association.

"I just can't imagine what would make someone do something like that and if he has ever given one thought to the disruption and problems he has caused in others people's lives," said customer D'Lorah Carwile.

Carwile is one of 75 insurance customers who paid for windstorm insurance but who did not actually have any coverage. The Texas Department of Insurance is investigating whether her agent, Darryl Golter, pocketed the money and didn't buy the insurance.

Carwile was left with no coverage for thousands of dollars in damage to her home, something she learned only after trying to file a claim.

"I think that was the one time since the storm that I cried," she said. "Because I had no earthly idea what I would do."

Today the company that employed Darryl Golter has a plan to help those who thought they were covered.

In a statement released late Thursday, American National Insurance Company said:

"The companies will offer to pay claims from hurricane Ike that would have been payable under the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association policies if they had been in force."

Welcome news to Carwile who was originally told no such offer would be made.

"I was contacted this morning by American National and given the option of either A, having being refunded on my premium for Windstorm policy or B, having my home fixed," she said.

For those families that paid Golter for windstorm insurance but who did not have any damage, American National is offering to refund premiums. John Watkins paid for coverage for the last four years.

"I would like to contact Texas Windstorm Insurance or have my new agent do that and go back and see if I was on the system for previous years and how long this has been going on," Watkins said.

If you have paid for windstorm insurance and are concerned that you may not have a valid policy, you can call the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and they can tell you if your policy is valid.

The Texas Department of Insurance is investigating this. A spokesperson tells us the agent could lose his license, be forced to pay fines and the case could be handed over to the Harris County District Attorney's Office to see if any criminal charges can be filed.

This is far from over, we'll keep you updated.

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

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