Sunday, October 6, 2013
How Does Insurance Payee Match Up with Claims of Ownership of the Loan?
by Neil Garfield
There have been many admissions by government officials and even parties to the litigation over mortgage Foreclosures to the effect that at this point the ownership of most loans is in doubt. Even President Obama said it, reflecting the views and advice of the senior advisors at the White House. On appeal, recently in California, BOTH sides admitted they had no way of identifying the true creditor --- and that is why we have all this litigation, why we have gridlock on modifications and settlements. So what do we do?
One insurance expert I interviewed suggested that his industry might solve the problem, but I think his points raise more questions than answers. Nonetheless, to prove the question, and overcome certain presumptions that are legally applied, examining the insurance policies and the changes that occur in forced placed insurance might reveal the issues and even illuminate the potential solution.
Bank of America is an example of a bank that rushes to take any excuse to place insurance from their own carrier BalBOA, naming BOA as the loss payee on liability policies. The usual previous loss payee was someone else --- perhaps the originator or some alleged assignee. The procedure of forced placed insurance creates both additional income to the bank and skips over the question of who owns the loan. When the insurance is reinstated or shown to have never lapsed in the the first place, it often names BOA thus lending support to the bank's position that it is the owner of the loan.
Looking at the title insurance, who is the loss payee? Besides the owner's policy there is a rider for the mortgagee named in the mortgage. Of course that party may not be a mortgagee when the mortgage is examined carefully. But changes in loss payees under title insurance usually requires notice and consent of the owner of the property.
Thus the question could be asked in Discovery about who was responsible for tracking title insurance, liability insurance and PMI, why does the policy name a loss payee other than the bank claiming ownership and what efforts were made by the bank to correct the identity of the creditor?
The same thing applies to PMI. If the payee is somebody different than the Forecloser you will notice that none of the banks allege that this is a breach of the mortgage contract. Why not? I think it is because the insurer would demand more proof than what is offered in court as to ownership and that the bank would not be able to satisfy the insurer that it had an insurable interest in the property.