Ask Henry

Determining Adequacy of Insurance Limits
Dear Henry,
Do you have an explanation as to why Fannie Mae allows the cost approach to be used for determining adequacy of insurance limits? Let me explain.

“The lender wants to be sure the property owner carries adequate insurance to protect the lender.”

If this were the case, why would the lender request the cost approach? The cost approach is a new construction based estimate, not the cost to rebuild after a loss. It may be more accurate to say that lenders need documentation to satisfy Fannie Mae requirements to sell their mortgages into the secondary market. The estimate from the cost approach will satisfy Fannie Mae, but that wouldn’t be adequate insurance to protect the borrower or the lenders’ collateral. The insurance industry has different cost guides.

  • Marshall & Swift/Boeckh – RCT & BVS (not the same cost guide as the MVS books)
  • Xactware – 360-Value
  • e2Value

These are all reconstruction based replacement cost estimating tools. Borrowers that are advised to set their insurance limits based on the “replacement cost” estimate in the cost approach section of the real estate appraisal will be underinsured. They won’t have enough to fully recover from a total loss, and they’ll be in jeopardy of a coinsurance penalty on any partial losses.

So I ask again, can you explain why Fannie Mae allows the cost approach to be used for determining adequacy of insurance limits?

J. Nixon

Dear John,
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac do not require the Cost Approach but permit its use when the appraiser thinks it is necessary. If in your scope of work dialogue with the lender/client a cost approach is asked for I see nothing to prevent you from providing it. I do believe that the reproduction cost you provide could be useful to the lender. I don't understand why using the reproduction cost would result in the property being under insured. There are a variety of ways homeowner insurance policies are written concerning what definition of value will be used to determine the amount of a claim or the amount of insurance needed.

Many insurance policies are based on the Actual Cash Value of the improvements. This is the depreciated value of the improvements. It does not include the value of the site and site improvements. Some insurance policies are based on replacement cost of the improvements. Usually this is less than the reproduction cost. The URAR begins the cost approach with an estimate of the "Reproduction Cost."



Push for National Flood Insurance Extension — with Reforms
Based on material provided by

As of Valentine's Day, Feb. 14th, 41 signatures had been secured on a letter from senators to the Senate leadership urging prompt action on legislation reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program.

At a press conference at the new Capitol Visitors’ Center, Senators John Tester (D-MT) and David Vitter (R-LA), the primary sponsors of the letter, said they would use the letter to persuade Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Majority Leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the Minority Leader, to put the NFIP long-term extension bill on the floor as soon as possible. Prompt action is needed because the current extension for the program ends May 31.

The current program has been operating on last minute extensions (with some breaks in the program) since September, 2008. As noted at the press conference by Charles Chamness, president and CEO of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the new flood season begins June 1, the day after the program expires.

Senator Tester acknowledges that support for the bill is not the holdup; the holdup is that Senator Reid is concerned that Senator McConnell will seek to use the "must-do bill" to push through controversial provisions opposed by Senate Democrats.

“Senator Vitter and I are very well aware that that this possibility exists on all bills, and we will have to work hard to ensure that the bill remains as narrow as possible,” Tester explained. Vitter added: “For no good reason, the NFIP was shut down for 53 days in 2010” because an extension to the program ran out. As a result, over 1,400 home closings were either cancelled or postponed. (He was citing data provided by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.) According to officials, in 2010, the NFIP lapsed four times and flood coverage could not be purchased or renewed for a total of 53 days.

Senator Vitter says Congress “must take the next step and pass legislation providing a long-term reauthorization of the program” before May 31. Also attending the meeting were officials of the Heartland Institute, the National Wildlife Federation, American Insurance Association, Taxpayers for Common Sense, American Rivers, NAMIC and RAA. All are supporting the effort to have the Senate act promptly on reauthorization legislation.

The Senate bill has no name. The House bill, H.R. 1309, the “Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011,” passed last July by an overwhelming majority. The bill, sponsored by Representative Judy Biggert, (R-IL), would, among other provisions, extend the NFIP until Sept. 30, 2016. The Senate Banking Committee moved a similar bill "to the floor" in early September 2011. However, floor action has been pending since then. The letter was written to encourage movement on the reauthorization prior to the May 31st deadline.


Landy Insurance Company Partners with Navigators Management Co., Inc., to Expand Professional Liability Coverage

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The Navigators Group, Inc. (NADAQ: NAVG) has announced that its principal underwriting subsidiary, Navigators Management Company, Inc., is continuing to expand its Professional Liability capabilities by partnering with the Herbert H. Landy Insurance Agency to provide Errors & Omissions Insurance to Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Appraisers.These new programs are expected to be available on a nationwide basis, effective June 1, 2011.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with Navigators,” states Betsy Magnuson, President of the Herbert H. Landy Insurance Agency. “Their Professional Liability team has extensive expertise in this class of business and this will provide us with a fresh perspective and enable us to bring innovative solutions to the marketplace. We anticipate that combining the strengths of our two organizations will be a win-win for our clients and trading partners throughout the country.” The new Real Estate Agents and Brokers and Real Estate Appraisers Errors & Omissions Programs will offer expanded coverage options, as well as higher limit capacity.