Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have completed a major overhaul of their master policy requirements for private mortgage insurance the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced today. The changes meet one of FHFA's 2013 Conservatorship Scorecard goals for the two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), aligning their individual policy requirements. The changes are the first made to the master policies in many years FHFA said
Private mortgage insurance is required of borrowers who provide less than a 20 percent downpayment on a home purchase. While the premiums are paid by the borrower, the insurance covers losses for the lender or the loan's owner should the homeowner default on payments. Mortgage insurance master policies specify the terms of business interaction between seller-servicers and mortgage insurers. FHFA said the GSEs have worked with the mortgage insurance industry to identify and fix gaps in the existing master policies and the new policies will, among other things, facilitate timely and consistent claims processing.
The changes include a requirement that the master policies support various loss mitigation strategies that were developed during the housing crisis to help troubled homeowners and establishes specific timelines for processing claims, including requests of additional documentation. The changes also seek to address a frequent source of complaints from homeowners, setting standards for determining when and under what circumstances the mortgage insurance must be maintained or can be terminated. The changes are also designed to promote better communication among insurers, servicers, and the GSEs.
"Updating the mortgage insurance master policy requirements is a significant accomplishment for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," said FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco. "The new standards update and clarify the responsibilities of insurers, originators and servicers and they enhance the insurance protection provided to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which ultimately benefits taxpayers."
The changes will be incorporated by mortgage insurance companies into new master policies which will be filed with state insurance regulations for review and approval. FHFA said it expects the master policies will go into effect in 2014.
Andrew Bon Salle, Fannie Mae's Executive Vice President, Single-Family Underwriting, Pricing, and Capital Markets said of the changes, "Mortgage insurers are an important part of the mortgage finance system and these changes help lay the foundation for a stronger system going forward. These updates will help us better manage our credit risk, which we believe will ultimately benefit Fannie Mae, mortgage insurers, homeowners and taxpayers."