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Private Mortgage Insurers Transfer Risk on $2.8T of Coverage

The U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI), which is the trade association representing the nation’s leading private mortgage insurance companies, has announced the industry has transferred more than $55 billion in risk on nearly $2.8 trillion of insurance-in-force from 2015-2021.  

This use of MI credit risk transfer (MI-CRT) reduced volatility in the business and brought more sources of private capital to the housing finance market. 

According to USMI, MI-CRT, combined with enhanced capital standards required by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), has transformed the industry from a cyclical business to a more stable, long-term manager of mortgage credit risk. 

“While some housing market participants either paused or reduced their CRT activities during the past two challenging years, the private MI industry continued to execute CRT transactions,” said USMI President Lindsey Johnson. “This underscores the confidence investors and reinsurers have in the private MI industry in terms of the critical role we play in helping millions of people access affordable mortgage credit while taking a disciplined approach to writing new business.” 

Johnson recently discussed MI-CRT with National MI President and CEO Adam Pollitzer: 

“MI-CRT is central to how the private MI industry manages credit risk. The tools we use—insurance-linked notes offerings, excess of loss reinsurance treaties, and quota share reinsurance agreements—each serve to absorb risk and loss in stress scenarios,” said Pollitzer. “CRT enhances our counterparties’ strength, bolsters and diversifies our funding profile beyond entity-based equity capital, and allows us to write more business and support more borrowers with greater efficiency. Every dollar of risk transferred through CRT opens another dollar of mortgage volume that we can support for new borrowers.” 

Between 2015-2021, the private MI industry issued 49 insurance-linked notes transferring $20 billion of risk on more than $2 trillion of notional mortgages to capital market investors. That constitutes $55 billion of risk transferred off private mortgage insurers’ balance sheets, meaning additional capacity to support new waves of borrowers. 

In 2021 alone, the industry insured $1.4 trillion of mortgages, including $1.2 trillion of mortgages backed by GSEs. 

“The private MI industry is better positioned today than ever before to support borrowers in need and provide private capital solutions that insulate lenders, the GSEs, and ultimately taxpayers from risk and loss in the event of an economic downturn,” said Pollitzer. “Over the last 10 years, the terms of our coverage, the regulatory framework governing our actions, our funding requirements and capital position, our underwriting standards, and the way we approach evaluating risk, pricing policies, and managing our tail exposure have all fundamentally changed. And the performance of the private MI industry through the arc of the pandemic serves as a highlight.” 

The MI industry has enabled more than 37 million families to access affordable, low down payment mortgages in its 65-year history. In 2021, the industry enabled nearly 2 million borrowers to access mortgage finance credit and supported $585 billion in mortgage originations. Nearly 60% of these insured loans went to first-time homebuyers, over 40% went to borrowers with incomes below $75,000, and the average loan amount for a mortgage with private MI was approximately $310,000. 

The USMI says that it works closely with federal policymakers, industry groups, and consumer organizations to support and advocate for low down payment homebuyers and homeowners throughout the year. The organization sent letters and released statements in support of bipartisan and bicameral legislative initiatives to make permanent the ability of homeowners to deduct MI premiums from federal income; submitted a comment letter on the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) Request for Input (RFI) on its Equitable Housing Finance Plans; and joined the Black Homeownership Collaborative in calling on the Biden Administration to focus on the critical need for housing production to address the significant deficit that continues to drive up home prices across the country. 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at kyle.horst@thefivestar.com.
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