Int Q&A – Servicing 1 – How do the flood insurance requirements under the Regulation apply to lenders under the following scenarios involving loan servicing?

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Q:  Servicing 1 – How do the flood insurance requirements under the Regulation apply to lenders under the following scenarios involving loan servicing?
 
A:   Scenario 1: A regulated lender originates a designated loan secured by a building or mobile home located in an SFHA in which flood insurance is available under the Act. The regulated lender makes the initial flood determination, provides the borrower with appropriate notice, and flood insurance is obtained. The regulated lender initially services the loan; however, the regulated lender subsequently sells both the loan and the servicing rights to a nonregulated party. What are the regulated lender’s requirements under the Regulation? What are the regulated lender’s requirements under the Regulation if it only transfers or sells the servicing rights, but retains ownership of the loan?

The regulated lender must comply with all requirements of the Regulation, including making the initial flood determination, providing appropriate notice to the borrower, and ensuring that the proper amount of insurance is obtained. In the event the regulated lender sells or transfers the loan and servicing rights, the regulated lender must provide notice of the identity of the new servicer to the Administrator of FEMA or its designee if the policy is an NFIP policy. In the case of a flood insurance policy issued by a private insurer, the lender should provide notice of the identity of the new servicer to the private insurer. Once the regulated lender has sold the loan and the servicing rights, the lender has no further obligation regarding flood insurance on the loan.

If the regulated lender retains ownership of the loan and only transfers or sells the servicing rights to a nonregulated party, and the policy is an NFIP policy, the regulated lender must notify the Administrator of FEMA or its designee of the identity of the new servicer. In the case of a flood insurance policy issued by a private insurer, the lender should provide notice of the identity of the new servicer to the private insurer. The servicing contract should require the servicer to comply with all the requirements that are imposed on the regulated lender as owner of the loan, including escrow of insurance premiums and force placement of insurance, if necessary.

Generally, the Regulation does not impose obligations on a loan servicer independent from the obligations it imposes on the owner of a loan. Loan servicers are covered by the escrow, force placement, and flood hazard determination fee provisions of the Act and Regulation primarily so that they may perform the administrative tasks for the regulated lender, without fear of liability to the borrower for the imposition of unauthorized charges. It is the Agencies’ longstanding position that the obligation of a loan servicer to fulfill administrative duties with respect to the flood insurance requirements arises from the contractual relationship between the loan servicer and the regulated lender or from other commonly accepted standards for performance of servicing obligations. The regulated lender remains ultimately liable for fulfillment of those responsibilities and must take adequate steps to ensure that the loan servicer maintains compliance with the flood insurance requirements.

Scenario 2: A nonregulated lender originates a designated loan. The nonregulated lender does not make an initial flood determination or notify the borrower of the need to obtain insurance. The nonregulated lender sells the loan and servicing rights to a regulated lender. What are the regulated lender’s requirements under the Regulation? What are the regulated lender’s requirements if it only purchases the servicing rights?
 
A regulated lender’s purchase of a loan and servicing rights, secured by a building or mobile home located in an SFHA in which flood insurance is available under the Act, is not an event that triggers certain requirements under the Regulation, such as making a new flood determination or requiring a borrower to purchase flood insurance. Those requirements only are triggered when a regulated lender makes, increases, extends, or renews a designated loan. A regulated lender’s purchase of a loan does not fall within any of those categories. However, if a regulated lender becomes aware at any point during the life of a designated loan that flood insurance is required, then the regulated lender must comply with the Regulation, including force placing insurance, if necessary. Depending upon the circumstances, as a matter of safety and soundness, the lender may undertake due diligence upon the purchase of a loan, which would make the lender aware of the lack of adequate flood insurance and trigger flood insurance compliance requirements. Further, if the purchasing lender subsequently extends, increases, or renews a designated loan, it must also comply with the Act and Regulation.
 
When a regulated lender purchases only the servicing rights to a loan originated by a nonregulated lender, the regulated lender is obligated to follow the terms of its servicing contract with the owner of the loan. In the event the regulated lender subsequently sells or transfers the servicing rights on that loan, the regulated lender must notify the Administrator of FEMA or its designee of the identity of the new servicer, if required to do so by the servicing contract with the owner of the loan.
 
 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
This Q&A was included in the Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance, which were issued on 05/11/2022.  They were published in the Federal Register on 05/31/2022 and may be found here:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/05/31/2022-10414/loans-in-areas-having-special-flood-hazards-interagency-questions-and-answers-regarding-flood
 

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