FHFA Turns to Industry Lobbyist for Advice on Force-placed Insurance

Posted by NCBRC - June 20, 2013

DSC02743Mortgage lenders routinely require homeowners to purchase property insurance to protect the lender’s interest in the home in the case of fire or other casualty.  If the homeowner fails to purchase such insurance or fails to provide evidence of insurance, most loan documents will authorize the lender to purchase insurance to protect its interest.  This coverage is called forced-placed or collateral protection insurance.  Force-placed insurance has long been an area of abuse.    Not only do servicers improperly place policies, but the field is filled with price gouging and illegal kickbacks. Bankruptcy debtors have not been immune from troubles caused by force-placed insurance.  For example, in In re Cothern, 422 B.R. 494 (Bankr. N.D. Miss. 2010), the servicer’s unrelenting and improper efforts to collect force-placed insurance premiums drove the borrowers into bankruptcy.  “The incompetence here is absolutely radiant” is how the judge in Cothern describes the servicer’s conduct.

After years of effort to get Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to address the problem of force-placed insurance, Fannie Mae unveiled a plan last year that would have limited financial ties between servicers and insurers.  In February of this year, FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae, vetoed Fannie Mae’s plan–a plan that would have lowered the cost of force-placed insurance significantly. Now we learn from Jeff Horwitz at American Banker that FHFA’s “outside expert” on force-placed insurance is actually an industry lobbyist who is well versed in protecting financial institutions.  For more details, read Jeff’s article here.



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