AN ORGANIZATION FORMED TO RECOUP the remaining assets of the Home Owners Warranty (HOW) Insurance Co. estimates that roughly 6,000 builders may be able to recover a total of $80 million.
HOW was a builder-owned company based in Virginia that provided 10-year warranty insurance to home buyers. The company went into receivership in 1994 when an actuarial report sponsored by the state declared that HOW was insolvent.
At that time, the state's insurance commissioner appointed a deputy receiver to operate HOW until the 10-year warranty expired on all outstanding policies. After the 10-year period passed, the state approved a liquidation plan in 2005 that gives the deputy receiver up to five years to pay the builders.
J. Roger Glunt, a builder and NAHB president the year before HOW went into receivership, called former HOW executive director Robert Johnston and asked him to help the builders recoup the money more quickly. Not long after that call, the HOW Builders Representation Group was formed, and the group hired New Jersey attorney Jerry Cureton, who agreed to take the case for a 25 percent contingency fee.
Cureton says the plan is to pull together a list of as many builders eligible for a refund as possible and present it to the deputy receiver this fall.
“If we go down to Virginia with all the claims in order, we hope we can streamline the process and provide a good basis for an interim distribution,” says Cureton, who adds that payments will be based on a builder's ownership in his or her company and the dollar amount of the claims the insurance company had to pay out while the builder was a member of HOW.
Builders who think they are eligible for a refund should visit www.howbuilders.com.