Like many controversies, mortgage lenders' use of force-placed home insurance arose from what was once a well established and unquestioned practice. For many years, homeowners who failed to maintain property insurance could count on their banks buying it for them and passing on the cost.

It is the way that banks have been buying such insurance that's become a hot topic recently. Most of the nation's top mortgage servicers outsource their force-placed programs, yet reap commissions on the policies. Consumer advocates have alleged such arrangements amount to pay-to-play kickbacks in which insurers pay banks for access to borrowers and then stick homeowners with exorbitant premiums.

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