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Mortgage insurance: market structure, underwriting cycle and policy implications

“This [Joint Forum] report on Mortgage insurance: market structure, underwriting cycle and policy implications examines the interaction of mortgage insurers with mortgage originators and underwriters. It makes the following set of recommendations directed at policymakers and supervisors which aim at reducing the likelihood of mortgage insurance stress and failure in such tail events:

  1. Policymakers should consider requiring that mortgage originators and mortgage insurers align their interests;
  2. Supervisors should ensure that mortgage insurers and mortgage originators maintain strong underwriting standards;
  3. Supervisors should be alert to – and correct for – deterioration in underwriting standards stemming from behavioural incentives influencing mortgage originators and mortgage insurers;
  4. Supervisors should require mortgage insurers to build long-term capital buffers and reserves during the troughs of the underwriting cycle to cover claims during its peaks;
  5. Supervisors should be aware of and take action to prevent cross-sectoral arbitrage which could arise from differences in the accounting between insurers’ technical reserves and banks’ loan loss provisions, and from differences in the capital requirements for credit risk between banks and insurers;
  6. Supervisors should be alert to potential cross-sectoral arbitrage resulting from the use of alternatives to traditional mortgage insurance; and
  7. Supervisors should apply the FSB Principles for Sound Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices to mortgage insurers noting that proper supervisory implementation necessitates both insurance and banking expertise.”

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