Category Archives: Risk

Regulating climate-related risks

The social and economic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have had a significant impact on our lives over the course of 2020. It has been argued, though, that the changes we have seen over 2020 pale in comparison to the expected impact that climate change will have on our societies and economies. Some predict that we have just 10 years to act on climate change before the damage to the planet is irreversible.  

With this in mind, regulators are looking to the financial services industry to better understand the challenges posed by climate risk, including a transition to a low-carbon economy. This briefing note by Milliman’s Sinéad ClarkeOrlaith Lehane and Eóin Stack provides a beginner’s guide to climate risk for Irish insurers. It includes a high-level introduction to climate-related risks and information on what the Central Bank of Ireland and European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority are currently doing in relation to climate risk in addition to an overview of the approach taken by regulators in the UK. 

Mortgage default risk drops in Q2 2020, despite pandemic, due to home price growth and refinance volume

Milliman today announced the second quarter (Q2) 2020 results of the Milliman Mortgage Default Index (MMDI), which shows the latest monthly estimate of the lifetime default risk of U.S.-backed mortgages.

During Q2 2020, the economic component of default risk for government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) acquisitions (purchased and refinanced loans backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) defied expectations, decreasing for the first time since at least Q3 2019 as a result of home price growth and robust refinance volume. In Q2, approximately 70% of mortgage volume was refinance loans, which are considered lower risk relative to purchase loans. Because of this, and an increased demand for housing, overall default risk for GSE loans decreased, from 1.99% in Q1 2020 to 1.74% in Q2.

Low interest rates have driven homeowners to refinance in record numbers, with 2020 refinance volume exceeding $1 trillion and totaling more than the volume of 2018 and 2019 combined. That, coupled with home price growth, has resulted in an improvement in mortgage default risk in Q2, despite the economic stressors from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Ginnie Mae acquisitions, the MMDI rate increased from 10.33% in Q1 2020 to 10.61% in Q2 2020, driven mainly by increased refinance volume. Many of these loans were originated through streamlined refinance programs, where a credit score is not provided. A credit score of 600 is conservatively assigned, which increases borrower default risk during heavy refinance periods

The models used in Milliman’s MMDI analysis rely on home prices to forecast default rates, and do not rely on unemployment rates, nor do they have specific adjustments for special legislative actions or programs such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

For more information, click here.

Record-setting wildfires put homeowners insurance in jeopardy

As the 2020 wildfire season again exceeds historical norms, insurers and policymakers must turn their attention from the literal fires to the figurative one: the threat—and increasing likelihood—that this escalating wildfire risk will result in a homeowners insurance crisis in the state of California.

For homeowners, insurance is often the last line of defense against losing everything to wildfire. However, for many, this crucial financial backstop is rapidly becoming harder to obtain as insurers reduce their portfolios due to billions in losses and regulatory restrictions on reflecting the true cost of risk in the premiums charged. This withdrawal is creating an untenable situation for many Californians and efforts to address it are becoming an urgent priority for policy makers.

In this article, Milliman professionals explain in more detail the state of home insurance in California and the regulatory efforts to address the issues thus far.

How has COVID-19 affected the U.S. mortgage marketplace?

Now that we are several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, sufficient data exists to analyze its effects on the mortgage market and draw conclusions on the impact this disruption will have on the marketplace for the rest of 2020 and into next year.

The mortgage market started the year with robust origination volume, investor appetite, an expanding credit box, and home price appreciation. The pandemic shifted the scene significantly, triggering steep mortgage rate declines, undocumented forbearances to mortgagees, and a freeze of investor appetite. The Federal Housing Finance Agency also released a proposed rule in advance of recapitalizing and potentially releasing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae from conservatorship, which has widespread implications for the future of the mortgage market.

In this paper, Milliman’s Nate Gorst and Jonathan Glowacki discuss each development and also discuss the impact of these events on the mortgage and housing market.

Climate change ranks as humanity’s top challenge – now what?

Climate change is one of a number of interconnected risks threatening the stability of the global financial system. This year, for the first time, the World Economic Forum ranked it as the top challenge facing humanity. This issue has not gone away amid COVID-19, which has exposed how actions in one country can have direct consequences for the whole world.

In this article, Milliman’s Neil Cantle and Nancy Watkins, along with The Oracle Partnership’s Peter Kingsley, discuss the role actuaries and insurers can play in tackling climate change following the coronavirus crisis.

Understanding the FHFA’s new refinance fee

In August, the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) announced an Adverse Market Refinance Fee of 0.50% applicable to refinance mortgages purchased by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the Enterprises). The intent of the fee is to help buffer the Enterprises’ finance from adverse market conditions and to increase their capital positions as the FHFA prepares to release them from conservatorship.

The way this fee may affect the mortgage market and borrowers is not straightforward. In this article, Milliman’s Nicholas Beihoff, Ryan Lindsay, and Jonathan Glowacki provide clarity on the fee and its potential impact. They demonstrate how the fee will likely have a limited impact on borrowers looking to refinance their mortgages into a lower interest rate.