Radian Group 10-K 2012
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
x ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011
o TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission file number 1-11356
RADIAN GROUP INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES o NO x
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. YES o NO x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. YES x NO o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). YES x NO o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check One):
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes o No x
As of June 30, 2011, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $553,787,209 based on the closing sale price as reported on the New York Stock Exchange. Excluded from this amount is the value of all shares beneficially owned by executive officers and directors of the registrant. These exclusions should not be deemed to constitute a representation or acknowledgment that any such individual is, in fact, an affiliate of the registrant or that there are not other persons or entities who may be deemed to be affiliates of the registrant.
The number of shares of common stock, $.001 par value per share, of the registrant outstanding on February 24, 2012 was 133,290,984 shares.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Forward Looking Statements—Safe Harbor Provisions
All statements in this report that address events, developments or results that we expect or anticipate may occur in the future are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the United States ("U.S.") Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In most cases, forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as "anticipate," "may," "will," "could," "should," "would," "expect," "intend," "plan," "goal," "contemplate," "believe," "estimate," "predict," "project," "potential," "continue," or the negative or other variations on these words and other similar expressions. These statements, which may include, without limitation, projections regarding our future performance and financial condition, are made on the basis of management's current views and assumptions with respect to future events. Any forward-looking statement is not a guarantee of future performance and actual results could differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statement. The forward-looking statements, as well as our prospects as a whole, are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements, including the following:
For more information regarding these risks and uncertainties as well as certain additional risks that we face, you should refer to the Risk Factors detailed in Item 1A of Part I of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We caution you not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which are current only as of the date on which we filed this report. We do not intend to, and we disclaim any duty or obligation to, update or revise any forward-looking statements made in this report to reflect new information or future events or for any other reason.
Business Overview and Operating Environment. We are a credit enhancement company with a primary strategic focus on domestic, first-lien residential mortgage insurance ("first-lien"). Our business segments are mortgage insurance and financial guaranty. Through our financial guaranty segment, we maintain a sizable financial guaranty insured portfolio, consisting of public finance and structured finance risks. Prior to January 1, 2011, we also had a third segment—financial services.
In recent years, our business has undergone significant changes due to the macroeconomic conditions and specific events that affect the origination environment and credit performance of our underlying insured assets. The ongoing downturn in the housing and related credit markets, characterized by a decrease in mortgage originations, decline in home prices, mortgage servicing and foreclosure delays, deterioration in the credit performance of mortgage and other assets originated prior to 2009, together with current macroeconomic factors such as limited economic growth, the lack of meaningful liquidity in some sectors of the capital markets and continued high unemployment, has had, and we believe will continue to have, a significant negative impact on the operating environment and our results of operations. See Note 1 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements. Beginning in 2008, we undertook a number of strategic actions and initiatives to respond to the economic and market conditions, including the following:
During 2011 and thus far in 2012, our business strategy continues to be primarily focused on: (i) growing our mortgage insurance business by writing high-quality mortgage insurance in the U.S.; (ii) managing losses in our legacy mortgage insurance and financial guaranty portfolios; (iii) reducing our financial guaranty exposure and our exposure to non-traditional insured risks; and (iv) pursuing opportunities for increasing Radian Group's available liquidity and for enhancing Radian Guaranty's statutory capital position. See Note 1 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information.
Our businesses have been significantly impacted by, and our future success may depend upon, legislative and regulatory developments impacting the housing finance industry. Freddie Mac and Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) are the primary beneficiaries of the majority of our mortgage insurance policies, and the Federal Housing Authority (“FHA”) remains our primary competitor outside of the private mortgage insurance industry (see “Regulation—Federal Regulation—The GSEs and FHA”). Federal and state efforts to support homeowners and the housing market, including through the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan (“HASP”), have had a positive impact on our business (see “Regulation—Federal Regulation—Homeowner Assistance Programs”). Various regulatory agencies are now in the process of developing new rules under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) that are expected to have a significant impact on the housing finance industry, and the U.S. Congress is engaged in planning for the reform of the housing finance market, including the future roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (referred to collectively as, the "Government Sponsored Enterprises" or “GSEs”) (see “Regulation—Federal Regulation—The GSEs and FHA—Housing Finance Reform and —The Dodd-Frank Act”).
We are subject to comprehensive regulation by the insurance departments in the states where our insurance subsidiaries are licensed to transact business. Under state insurance regulations, Radian Guaranty is required to maintain minimum surplus levels and, in certain states, a minimum amount of statutory capital relative to the level of risk in force, or "risk-to-capital." Sixteen states (the risk-based capital or "RBC States") currently have a statutory or regulatory risk-based capital requirement (a "Statutory RBC Requirement"), the most common of which (imposed by 11 of the RBC States) is a requirement that a mortgage insurer's risk-to-capital ratio may not exceed 25 to 1. Unless an RBC State grants a waiver or other form of relief, if a mortgage insurer is not in compliance with the Statutory RBC Requirement of an RBC state, it may be prohibited from writing new mortgage insurance business in that state. As a result of ongoing incurred losses, Radian Guaranty's risk-to-capital ratio increased to 21.5 to 1 as of December 31, 2011 (after consideration of a recent $100 million contribution from Radian Group). Radian Guaranty's risk-to-capital ratio is expected to continue to increase and, absent any further capital contributions from Radian Group, is expected to exceed 25 to 1 in 2012. In order to maximize our financial flexibility, we have applied for waivers or similar relief for Radian Guaranty in each of the RBC States. In addition, pursuant to approvals we received from the GSEs in February 2012, we intend to write new first-lien mortgage insurance business in Radian Mortgage Assurance Inc. ("Radian Mortgage Assurance"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Radian Guaranty, in any RBC State that does not permit Radian Guaranty to continue writing insurance while it is out of compliance with Statutory RBC Requirements. See “Regulation—State Regulation—Risk-to-Capital Ratio."
Business Segments. Our business segments are mortgage insurance and financial guaranty.
Prior to January 1, 2011, we also had a third segment—financial services. See "Business—Financial Services."
A summary of financial information for our current business segments for each of the last three fiscal years, and for our former financial services segment for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, is included in Note 3 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements. Radian Group serves as the holding company for our insurance subsidiaries and does not have any significant operations of its own.
Background. Radian Group has been incorporated as a business corporation under the laws of the State of Delaware since 1991. Our principal executive offices are located at 1601 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103, and our telephone number is (215) 231-1000.
Additional Information. Our website address is www.radian.biz. Copies of our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, as well as any amendments to those reports, are available free of charge through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). In addition, copies of our guidelines of corporate governance, code of business conduct and ethics (which includes the code of ethics applicable to our chief executive officer, principal financial officer and principal accounting officer) and the governing charters for each committee of our board of directors are available free of charge on our website, as well as in print, to any stockholder upon request. Information contained or referenced on our website is not incorporated by reference into and does not form a part of this report.
Our mortgage insurance segment provides credit-related insurance coverage, principally through private mortgage insurance, and risk management services to mortgage lending institutions. Private mortgage insurance protects the holders of our insurance from all or a portion of default-related losses on residential mortgage loans made generally to home buyers who make down payments of less than 20% of the home's purchase price. Private mortgage insurance also facilitates the sale of these mortgage loans in the secondary mortgage market, most of which are sold to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Traditional types of private mortgage insurance include "primary mortgage insurance" and "pool insurance." In the past, we offered pool insurance on a limited basis.
Primary Mortgage Insurance. Primary mortgage insurance provides protection against mortgage defaults at a specified coverage percentage. When there is a claim under primary mortgage insurance, the coverage percentage is applied to the claim amount, which consists of the unpaid loan principal, plus past due interest (which is capped at a maximum of two years) and certain expenses associated with the default, to determine our maximum liability.
We provide primary mortgage insurance on a flow basis and we have also provided primary mortgage insurance on a “structured” basis (in which we insure a group of individual loans). In flow transactions, mortgages typically are insured as they are originated (or shortly after), while in structured transactions, we typically provide insurance on a group of mortgages after they have been originated. A portion of our structured business has been written in a “second loss” position, meaning that we are not required to make a payment until a certain aggregate amount of losses have already been recognized. Most of our structured mortgage insurance transactions in the past have involved non-prime mortgages (non-prime mortgages include Alternative-A (“Alt-A”), A minus and B/C mortgages, each of which are discussed below under “Mortgage Insurance—Direct Risk in Force—Mortgage Characteristics”) and mortgages with higher than average loan balances. A single structured mortgage insurance transaction may be provided on a primary or pool basis, and some structured transactions include both primary and pool insured mortgages. Included in our primary mortgage insurance in force and risk in force is modified pool insurance, which differs from standard pool insurance in that it includes an exposure limit on each individual loan as well as an aggregate limit of loss for the entire pool of loans.
In 2011, we wrote $15.5 billion of primary mortgage insurance, compared to $11.6 billion of primary mortgage insurance written in 2010. The increase in 2011 compared to 2010, is mainly attributable to an increase in the penetration rate of private mortgage insurance in the overall insured mortgage market, as well as an increase in our market share. All of our primary mortgage insurance written during 2011 and 2010 was written on a “flow” (which is loan-by-loan) basis. Primary insurance on first-lien mortgages made up $30.7 billion or 93.7% of our total first-lien mortgage insurance risk in force at December 31, 2011, compared to $31.5 billion or 92.8% at December 31, 2010.
Pool Insurance. We have not written pool insurance since 2008. Prior to that, we wrote pool insurance on a limited basis. Pool insurance differs from primary insurance in that our maximum liability is not limited to a specific coverage percentage on each individual mortgage. Instead, an aggregate exposure limit, or “stop loss, (generally between 1% and 10%), is applied to the initial aggregate loan balance on a group or “pool” of mortgages. In addition to a stop loss, many of our pool policies were written in a second loss position. We believe the stop loss and second loss features have been important in limiting our ultimate liability on individual pool transactions.
We wrote much of our pool insurance in the form of structured transactions, whole loan sales and credit enhancement on residential mortgage loans included in residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”). An insured pool of mortgages may contain mortgages that are already covered by primary mortgage insurance. In these transactions, pool insurance is secondary to any primary mortgage insurance that exists on mortgages within the pool. Generally, the mortgages we have insured with pool insurance have similar characteristics to mortgages insured on a primary basis.
Pool insurance made up approximately $2.1 billion or 6.3% of our total first-lien mortgage insurance risk in force at December 31, 2011, as compared to $2.5 billion or 7.2% at December 31, 2010.
In addition to traditional mortgage insurance, in the past we have provided other forms of credit enhancement on residential mortgage assets. We stopped writing this "non-traditional" business in 2007, other than a small amount of international mortgage insurance, which we discontinued writing in 2008. Since 2007, we have been pursuing opportunities to reduce our legacy, non-traditional mortgage insurance risk in force through a series of commutations, transaction settlements and terminations. Our total amount of non-traditional risk in force was $214 million at December 31, 2011, as compared to $455 million at December 31, 2010.
These products, which we no longer offer, included:
We set our premium rates at origination when coverage is set. Premiums for our mortgage insurance products are set based on performance models that consider a broad range of borrower, loan and property characteristics. We set our premium levels commensurate with anticipated policy performance assumptions, including, without limitation, expectations and assumptions about the following factors: credit loss given default; policy duration; management and policy acquisition costs; taxes; and required capital supporting policy coverage level. Our performance assumptions for claim frequency and policy life are developed based on internally developed data as well as data generated from independent, third-party sources. The components for setting our premiums that relate to policy coverage, expenses and capital are based on data and models that are developed internally. Premium levels are set to achieve an appropriate, risk-adjusted rate of return on capital given net performance expectations. Mortgage insurance premium levels are subject to approval by all state insurance regulators.
Premiums on our mortgage insurance products can be paid either monthly, up-front as a single premium, or as a combination of an up-front premium plus monthly renewal. For monthly paid premiums, we receive a monthly certificate premium payment and provide ongoing loan level coverage. For single premium insurance, we receive a single premium payment that is funded in advance and provides loan level life-of-loan coverage. In addition, we have split coverages for which we receive a single premium payment when the loan is made, plus ongoing monthly renewal premiums. Approximately 51% of our new insurance written ("NIW") in 2011 was written with monthly premiums and 44% was written with single premiums.
Mortgage insurance premiums are financed through a number of methods and can either be paid by the borrower or by the lender. Borrower-paid mortgage insurance ("BPMI") premiums can be funded either through borrower escrow or financed as a component of the mortgage loan amount. Lender paid mortgage insurance ("LPMI") premiums are paid by the lender and are typically passed through to the borrower in the form of additional origination fees or a higher interest rate on the mortgage note.
Loans are underwritten to determine whether they are eligible for our mortgage insurance. We perform this function directly or, alternatively, we delegate to our customers the ability to underwrite the loans based on agreed-upon underwriting guidelines.
Delegated Underwriting. Through our delegated underwriting program, certain customers that have been approved by us are able to underwrite loans based on agreed-upon underwriting guidelines. Our delegated underwriting program currently involves only lenders that are approved by our risk management group. Delegated underwriting allows our customers to commit us to insure loans meeting agreed-upon guidelines. This enables us to meet lenders’ demands for immediate insurance coverage. With delegated underwriting, because the underwriting is being performed by third parties, we have additional rights to rescind coverage if an insured breaches any of the representations and warranties pertaining to application of the agreed-upon underwriting guidelines to the insured loan. Additionally, any fraud or misrepresentation would also provide us with rights to rescind coverage. We plan to offer a limited rescission waiver program for our delegated underwriting customers, in which we agree not to rescind or deny coverage due to non-compliance with our agreed-upon underwriting guidelines so long as the borrower makes 36 consecutive payments (commencing with the initial required payment) from his or her own funds. As part of this program, which has been approved by Fannie Mae but remains subject to final approval by Freddie Mac and certain state insurance departments, we may require that some or all of the loans underwritten through the program be run through an approved fraud model as part of the origination process. This program does not restrict our rights to rescind coverage in the event of fraud or misrepresentation in the origination of the loans we insure. As of December 31, 2011, approximately 62% of our total first-lien mortgage insurance in force had been originated on a delegated basis, compared to 59% as of December 31, 2010. See “Risk Factors—Our delegated underwriting program may subject our mortgage insurance business to unanticipated claims."
Non-Delegated Underwriting. Lenders that either do not qualify or choose not to participate in our delegated underwriting program can submit loan files to our Field Service Center for underwriting. In addition, lenders participating in our delegated underwriting program may choose not to use their delegated authority and to submit loans directly to our Field Service Center. For those loans underwritten by us, we generally do not have the remedies for breach of representations or warranties that we do with respect to delegated underwriting. We mitigate the risk of employee underwriting error through quality control sampling and performance monitoring. As of December 31, 2011, approximately 38% of our total first-lien mortgage insurance in force had been originated on a non-delegated basis, compared to 41% as of December 31, 2010.
Contract Underwriting. In our mortgage insurance business, we also have a contract underwriting program through which we provide an outsourced underwriting service to our customers. For a fee, we underwrite our customers’ loan files for secondary market compliance (i.e., for sale to the GSEs), and may concurrently assess the file for mortgage insurance. During 2011, loans underwritten through contract underwriting accounted for 8.7% of insurance certificates issued for our flow business. Such loans are included within the non-delegated underwriting percentages above.
Typically, we agree that if we make a material error in underwriting a loan, we will provide a remedy to the customer by purchasing the loan, by placing additional mortgage insurance on the loan, or by indemnifying the customer against loss up to a maximum specified amount. During 2011, we paid losses related to these remedies of approximately $7 million. We have limited the recourse available to our contract underwriting customers to apply only to those loans that we are simultaneously underwriting for compliance with secondary market compliance and for potential mortgage insurance. We monitor this risk and negotiate our underwriting fee structure and recourse agreements on a client-by-client basis. We also routinely audit the performance of our contract underwriters.
Our business has traditionally involved taking credit risk in various forms across various asset classes, products and geographies. Credit risk is measured in our mortgage insurance business as risk in force, which approximates the maximum loss exposure that we have at any point in time.
The following table shows the direct risk in force associated with our mortgage insurance segment as of December 31, 2011 and 2010:
Risk in force for modified pool loans, which we include in primary insurance risk in force, was $270 million and $289 million as of December 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively.
The following discussion mainly focuses on our primary risk in force, which represents approximately 93.1% of our total mortgage insurance risk in force at December 31, 2011. For additional information regarding our pool and non-traditional mortgage insurance risk in force, see "—Business—Mortgage Insurance—Business—Traditional Risk and Mortgage Insurance" and "—Business—Mortgage Insurance—Business—Non-Traditional Risk.”
We analyze our portfolio in a number of ways to identify any concentrations or imbalances in risk dispersion. We believe the performance of our mortgage insurance portfolio is affected significantly by:
The following table shows the percentage of our direct primary mortgage insurance risk in force and the associated percentage of our mortgage insurance reserve for losses (by policy origination year) as of December 31, 2011 and 2010:
A significant portion of our total mortgage insurance in force (and consequently our premiums earned) is derived from policies written in prior years. Therefore, the amount of policy cancellations and the period of time that our policies remain in force can have a significant impact on our revenues and our results of operations. One measure for assessing the impact of policy cancellations on insurance in force is our persistency rate, defined as the percentage of insurance in force that remains on our books after any 12-month period. Because most of our insurance premiums are earned over time, higher persistency rates enable us to recover more of our policy acquisition costs and generally result in increased profitability. At December 31, 2011, the persistency rate of our primary mortgage insurance was 85.4%, compared to 81.8% at December 31, 2010. Historically, there was a close correlation between low or declining interest rate environments and lower persistency rates, primarily as a result of increased refinance activity. However, in recent years, despite historically low interest rates, our persistency rate has remained high, as many borrowers have been unable to refinance due to home price depreciation, the weak housing market and limited access to mortgage credit.
The following tables show the percentage of our direct primary mortgage insurance risk in force and the associated percentage of our mortgage insurance reserve for losses (by location of property) for the top 10 states and top 15 metropolitan statistical areas (“MSAs”) in the U.S. (measured by primary mortgage insurance risk in force as of December 31, 2011) as of December 31, 2011 and 2010:
Although geographic dispersion is an important component of our overall risk diversification, we believe that other factors also contribute significantly to the quality of the risk in force, including product distribution and our risk management and underwriting practices.
LTV. An important indicator of claim incidence in our mortgage insurance business is the relative amount of a borrower’s equity that exists in a home. Generally, absent other mitigating factors such as high Fair Isaac and Company (“FICO”) scores and other credit factors, loans with higher LTVs at inception (i.e., smaller down payments) are more likely to result in a claim than lower LTV loans. For example, claim incidence on mortgages with LTVs between 90.01% and 95% is significantly higher than the claim incidence on mortgages with LTVs between 85.01% and 90%. In the past, we insured a significant number of loans with LTVs between 95.01% and 100% and a small number of loans having an LTV over 100%. These loans are expected to have a higher claim incidence than mortgages with LTVs of 95% or less. In 2008, we discontinued writing insurance on mortgages with LTVs higher than 95%. In 2010, we resumed writing business on loans with LTV ratios between 95.01% and 97% on a highly selective basis. The average LTV of our primary new insurance written in 2011 was 90.45%, compared to 89.83% and 89.63% in 2010 and 2009, respectively.
Loan Grade. The risk of claim on non-prime loans is significantly higher than that on prime loans. We generally define prime loans as loans where the borrower’s FICO score is 620 or higher and the loan file meets “fully documented” standards of our credit guidelines (as compared to Alt-A loans discussed below) and/or the GSE’s guidelines for fully documented loans. Prime loans made up substantially all of our primary new insurance written in 2011 and 2010. Prime loans comprised 84.8% of our primary risk in force at December 31, 2011, compared to 82.6% at December 31, 2010. We expect that prime loans will continue to constitute substantially all of our primary new insurance written for the foreseeable future.
We generally define Alt-A loans as loans where the borrower’s FICO score is 620 or higher and where the loan documentation has been reduced or eliminated. Because of the reduced documentation, we consider Alt-A loans to be more risky than prime loans, particularly Alt-A loans to borrowers with FICO scores below 660. We have insured Alt-A loans with FICO scores ranging from 620 to 660. Alt-A loans tend to have higher loan balances than other loans that we insure because they are often more heavily concentrated in higher-cost areas.
We generally define A minus loans as loans where the borrower’s FICO score ranges from 575 to 619. We also classify loans with certain characteristics originated within the GSE’s automated underwriting system as A minus loans, regardless of the FICO score.
We generally define B/C loans as loans where the borrower’s FICO score is below 575. In the past, certain structured transactions that we have insured contained a small percentage of B/C loans.
Adjustable Rate Mortgages (“ARMs”); Interest-Only Mortgages. We consider loans to be ARMs if the interest rate for those loans will reset at any point during the life of such loans. Our claim frequency on insured ARMs has been higher than on fixed-rate loans due to monthly payment increases that occur when interest rates rise. It has been our experience that the credit performance of loans subject to reset five years or later from origination perform more like fixed-rate loans, as these loans are less likely to result in a claim than ARMs with shorter fixed periods.
We also have insured ARMs that provide the borrower with a number of different payment options (“Option ARMs”). One of these options is a minimum payment that is below the full amortizing payment, which results in interest being capitalized and added to the loan balance so that the loan balance continually increases. This process is referred to as negative amortization. As of December 31, 2011, Option ARMs represented approximately 2.2% of our primary mortgage insurance risk in force compared to 2.9% at December 31, 2010. We have not written any Option ARMs since 2007.
We also have insured interest-only mortgages, where the borrower pays only the interest charge on a mortgage for a specified period of time, usually five to ten years, after which the loan payment increases to include principal payments. Interest rates on interest-only mortgages may reset, in which case we would consider this to be an ARM, or may be fixed. These loans may have a heightened propensity to default because of possible “payment shocks” after the initial low-payment period expires and because the borrower does not automatically build equity in the underlying property as payments are made. At December 31, 2011, interest-only mortgages represented approximately 6.2% of our primary mortgage insurance risk in force compared to 7.3% at December 31, 2010.
As of December 31, 2011, our exposure to ARMs represented approximately $3.5 billion or 11.3% of our primary risk in force. Approximately 58.6% of the ARMs we insure, including Option ARMs and interest-only ARMs, have already had initial interest rate resets. An additional 13.1%, 9.4% and 4.9% are scheduled to have initial interest rate resets during 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Loan Size. The average loan size of our primary mortgage insurance in force (by product) as of December 31, 2011 and 2010 was as follows:
The five states (or districts) with the highest average loan size (measured by primary mortgage insurance in force as of December 31, 2011) and the corresponding average loan size as of the dates indicated were as follows:
Property Type. Our risk of loss also is affected by the type of property securing our insured loans, and we have adjusted our underwriting guidelines to limit our exposure to certain property types. For example, we are no longer insuring properties with multiple units.
We believe loans on single-family detached housing are less likely to result in a claim than loans on other types of properties. Conversely, we generally consider loans on attached housing types, particularly condominiums and cooperatives, to be more volatile due to the higher density (and greater supply in some markets) of these properties.
Occupancy Type. We believe that loans on non-owner-occupied homes purchased for investment purposes are more likely to result in a claim and are subject to greater potential declines in value than loans on either primary or second homes and borrowers are more likely to neglect maintenance and repairs on these homes.
It has been our experience that higher-priced properties experience wider fluctuations in value than moderately priced residences and that the incomes of many people who buy higher-priced homes are less stable than those of people with moderate incomes. Therefore, we believe such higher-priced properties are more likely to result in a claim.
The following table shows the percentage of our direct primary mortgage insurance risk in force (as determined on the basis of information available as of the date of mortgage origination) by the categories and dates indicated:
Defaults. The default and claim cycle in our mortgage insurance business begins with our receipt of a default notice from the servicer. For financial statement reporting and internal tracking purposes, we do not consider a loan to be in default until the borrower has missed two monthly payments.
Defaults, whether voluntary or involuntary, can occur due to a variety of factors, including death or illness, divorce or other family problems, unemployment, overall changes in economic conditions, housing value changes that cause the outstanding mortgage amount to exceed the value of a home, or other events. Depending on the type of loan, default rates may be affected by rising interest rates or an accumulation of negative amortization. Involuntary defaults are those that occur due to factors generally outside the control of the borrower (e.g., job loss, unexpected interest rate changes or death). Voluntary defaults are those where the borrower willingly walks away from his or her mortgage obligation despite the ability to continue to pay. These types of defaults often are caused by significant declines in property values where the borrower makes a decision not to continue to support a mortgage balance that exceeds the value of the home. Voluntary defaults may be exacerbated by the fact that many borrowers in the past were not required to pay closing costs or make a significant, if any, down payment on their homes, leaving these borrowers with little incentive to remain in their homes when values have depreciated. In addition, we believe that some borrowers may voluntarily default on their mortgages to take advantage of loan modification programs.
Reserves for losses are established when we are notified that a borrower has missed two monthly payments. We also establish reserves for associated loss adjustment expenses ("LAE"), consisting of the estimated cost of the claims administration process, including legal and other fees and expenses associated with administering the claims process. We maintain an extensive database of claim payment history and use models, based on a variety of loan characteristics, including the status of the loan as reported by its servicer and the type of loan product to determine the likelihood that a default will reach claim status. We also forecast the impact of our loss mitigation efforts in protecting us against fraud, underwriting negligence, breach of representation and warranties, inadequate documentation and other items that may give rise to insurance rescissions and claim denials, to help determine the default to claim rate. Lastly, we project the amount that we will pay if a default becomes a claim (referred to as "claim severity"). Based on these estimates, we arrive at our estimate of loss reserves at a given point in time. A detailed description of our reserve policy and methodology is contained in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Critical Accounting Policies—Reserve for Losses” and in Notes 2 and 10 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
The following table shows the number of primary and pool loans that we have insured, the number of loans in default and the percentage of loans in default as of the dates indicated:
The following table shows the number of modified pool loans that we have insured (included within primary insurance), the number of loans in default and the percentage of loans in default as of the dates indicated:
The default rate in our mortgage insurance business is subject to seasonality. Historically, our mortgage insurance business experiences a fourth quarter seasonal increase in defaults and a first quarter seasonal decline in defaults. While this historically has been the case, macroeconomic factors in any given period may influence the default rate in our mortgage insurance business more than seasonality.
The following table shows the number and percentage of primary mortgage insurance defaults by policy origination year as of the dates indicated:
The following table shows the trend in our default rates on our primary insured book of business at the end of each quarter following the year of original policy issuance, referred to as a “year of origination.”
Business written in 2005 through 2008 contained a significant number of poorly underwritten and higher risk loans. As a result of this and the economic downturn, which began in 2007, we expect substantially higher ultimate loss ratios for these loans than in previous policy years. In 2008, as a result of the significant downturn in the housing market, we implemented a number of changes to our underwriting guidelines aimed at significantly improving the risk characteristics of the loans we were insuring. As a result of these more restrictive underwriting guidelines, the default rates for vintages beginning in the second half of 2008 have significantly improved, in particular when compared to the 2005 through the first half of 2008 books of business.
Beginning in 2009, our insured vintages consist of loans with significantly improved risk characteristics, including predominantly prime credit quality, with FICO scores of 740 or above and LTV ratios lower than any of our previous policy years.
The following table shows the states with the highest number of primary mortgage insurance defaults (measured as of December 31, 2011) and the corresponding percentage of total defaults as of the dates indicated:
Although the states of California, Illinois, Georgia and Ohio account for a large portion of our total defaults, their share of total defaults is generally proportional to the size of their insured portfolios. In the state of Florida, however, the number of defaults in Florida compared to total defaults is disproportionately larger relative to the size of Florida's insured portfolio. This disproportionate share of total defaults is the result of Florida having experienced the largest declines in home prices, high levels of unemployment, and a higher level of exposure to riskier products. Given our exposure to these states, our loss experience has been significantly affected and will continue to be negatively affected if in these states, the pace of improvement fails to accelerate or conditions there should deteriorate again.
Claims. Mortgage insurance claim volume is influenced by the circumstances surrounding the default. The rate at which defaults cure, and therefore do not go to claim, depends in large part on a borrower’s financial resources and circumstances, local housing prices and housing supply (i.e., whether borrowers may cure defaults by selling the property in full satisfaction of all amounts due under the mortgage), interest rates and regional economic conditions. In our first-lien mortgage insurance business, the insured lender is required to complete foreclosure proceedings and obtain title to the property before submitting a claim. It can take anywhere from three months to five years for a lender to acquire title to a property through foreclosure, depending on the state. On average, we do not receive a request for claim payment until approximately 18 months following a default on a first-lien mortgage. This time lag has increased in recent years, as we have observed a slowdown in foreclosures (and consequently, a slowdown in claims submitted to us) largely due to foreclosure moratoriums imposed by various government entities and lenders and increased scrutiny in the general foreclosure process. In our second-lien mortgage insurance business, foreclosure is not required and claims are typically submitted based on a contractual number of days that a borrower is in default. As a result, we typically are required to pay a claim much earlier, within approximately 150 days of a borrower’s missed payment.
Claim activity is not spread evenly throughout the coverage period of a book of business. Historically, relatively few claims on prime business are received during the first two years following issuance of a policy and on non-prime business during the first year. Claim activity on prime loans has historically reached its highest level in the third through fifth years after the year of policy origination, and on non-prime loans, this level historically has been reached in the second through fourth years. Based on these trends, approximately 27.6% and 35.6% of our primary risk in force at December 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively, had not yet reached its highest claim frequency years. All of our pool risk in force at December 31, 2011, had reached its highest expected claim frequency years. Notwithstanding historical trends, the insurance we wrote from 2005 through 2008 has experienced default and claim activity sooner and to a significantly greater extent than has been the case historically for our books of business.
The following table shows cumulative "direct claims" (i.e., claims paid before reinsurance recoveries) paid by us on our primary insured book of business at the end of each successive year after origination, expressed as a percentage of the cumulative premiums written by us in each year of origination:
Direct Claims Paid vs. Premiums Written—Primary Insurance
The following table shows "net claims" (i.e., claims paid after reinsurance recoveries) paid information for primary mortgage insurance for the periods indicated:
The following tables show direct claims paid by policy origination year and the states with the highest direct claims paid (measured as of December 31, 2011) as of the periods indicated:
Claims paid in California, Florida and Arizona continue to account for a disproportionate share of total claims paid reflecting the significant home price depreciation in those states and the higher percentage of Alt-A loans, which have had a higher claim frequency, as well as the relatively high proportion of risk in force in those states.
Severity. In addition to claim volume, claim severity is another significant factor affecting losses. The severity of a claim is determined by dividing the claim paid by the original loan amount. The main determinants of the severity of a claim are the size of the loan, the amount of mortgage insurance coverage placed on the loan and the impact of our loss management activities with respect to the loan. Pre-foreclosure sales, acquisitions and other early workout efforts help to reduce overall claim severity as do actions we may take to reduce claim payment for servicer negligence as discussed below in "Claims Management." The average claim severity for loans covered by our primary insurance was 27.2% for 2011, compared to 27.4% in 2010 and 26.6% in 2009. The average claim severity for loans covered by our pool insurance was 45.1% for 2011, compared to 48.1% in 2010 and 33.4% in 2009.
We have significant resources dedicated to our mortgage insurance claims management department in order to effectively manage losses in the weak housing market and high default and claim environment. Claims management pursues opportunities to mitigate losses both before and after claims are received.
In our traditional mortgage insurance business, upon receipt of a valid claim, we generally have the following three settlement options:
In general, we base our selection of a settlement option on the value of the property. In 2011, we settled 83.5% of claims by paying the maximum liability (compared to 85.3% of claims in 2010), 16.5% by paying the deficiency amount following an approved sale (compared to 14.5% of claims in 2010) and less than 1% by paying the full claim amount and acquiring title to the property (also less than 1% in 2010). Declining property values in many regions of the U.S. since 2007 have made our loss management efforts more challenging.
After a claim is received and/or paid, our loss management specialists focus on:
When a claim is submitted for payment, we currently review each claim to investigate (i) whether the loan qualified for insurance at the time the certificate of coverage was issued, and (ii) whether the insured has satisfied its obligation in meeting all necessary conditions in order for us to be required to pay a claim. We may deny a claim if the servicer does not produce documents necessary to perfect a claim, including evidence that the insured has acquired title to the property, within the time period specified in the master insurance policy with our lending customers (the “Master Policy”). Most often, a claim denial is the result of the servicer’s inability to provide the loan origination file or other servicing documents for review. If, after requests by us, the loan origination file or other servicing documents are not provided to us, we deny the claim. Under the terms of our Master Policy, our insureds must provide to us the necessary documents to perfect a claim within one year after foreclosure.
We have the legal right, under certain conditions, to unilaterally rescind coverage on our mortgage insurance policies. Under the terms of our Master Policy, we have 60 days to pay the claim, subject to various conditions, such as the insured providing additional items necessary for us to complete a review of the claim. If we determine that a loan did not qualify for insurance, as part of our internal procedures, we issue an “intent to rescind” letter that explains the basis of our decision and provides the insured with a period of up to 90 days from the date of the letter to challenge or rebut our decision. We are not contractually obligated under the terms of our Master Policy to provide the insured with this opportunity to rebut our decision to rescind coverage.
Typical events that may give rise to our right to rescind include the following: (i) we insure a loan under our Master Policy in reliance upon an application for insurance that contains a material misstatement, misrepresentation or omission, whether intentional or otherwise, or that was issued as a result of any act of fraud, subject to certain exceptions, or (ii) we find that there was negligence in the origination of a loan that we insured. We also have rights of rescission arising from a breach of the insured’s representations and warranties contained in an endorsement to our Master Policy that is required with our delegated underwriting program, and we may in certain circumstances seek to rescind structured transactions for breach of representations and warranties pertaining to the insured loans having been underwritten in accordance with the agreed underwriting guidelines, and in the absence of any fraud or misrepresentation.
If a rebuttal to our decision to rescind is received and the insured provides additional information supporting the continuation (i.e., non-rescission) of coverage, the claim is re-examined internally by a second, independent group of individuals. If the additional information supports the continuation of coverage, the insurance is reinstated and the claim is paid. After completion of this process, if we determine that the loan did not qualify for coverage, the insurance certificate is rescinded (and the premium refunded), and we consider the rescission to be final and resolved. Although we may make a final determination with respect to a rescission, it is possible that a challenge to our decision to rescind coverage may be made for a period of time after we have rescinded coverage. Under our Master Policy, any suit or action arising from any right of the insured under the policy must be commenced within two years after such right first arose and within three years for certain other policies, including certain pool insurance policies.
In addition, we have rights under our Master Policy to adjust, or in some circumstances deny, claims due to servicer negligence. Examples of servicer negligence may include, without limitation, a failure to report information to us on a timely basis as required under our Master Policy, a failure to pursue loss mitigation opportunities presented by borrowers, realtors, and/or any other interested parties, a failure to pursue loan modifications and/or refinancings through programs available to borrowers or an undue delay in presenting claims to us (including as a result of improper handling of foreclosure proceedings), which increases the interest (up to a maximum of two years) or other components of a claim we are required to pay.
Although we could seek post-claim recoveries from the beneficiaries of our policies if we later determine that a claim was not valid, because our loss mitigation process is designed to ensure compliance with our policies prior to payment of claim, we have not sought, nor do we currently expect to seek, recoveries from the beneficiaries of our mortgage insurance policies once a claim payment has been made.
Our mortgage insurance business has a comprehensive risk management function, which is responsible for establishing our credit and counterparty risk policies, monitoring compliance with our policies, portfolio management and communication of credit related issues to management and our board of directors.
We believe that understanding our business partners and customers is a key component of managing risk. Accordingly, we assign individual risk managers to specific lenders and servicers so that they can more effectively perform ongoing business-level due diligence. This also allows us to better customize our credit and servicing policies to address individual lender-specific and servicer-specific strengths and weaknesses.
Our Portfolio Management group oversees the allocation of capital within our mortgage insurance business. This group establishes the portfolio limits for product type, loan attributes, geographic concentration and counterparties, and also is responsible for evaluating and negotiating potential transactions for terminating insurance risk and for distributing risk to others through risk transfer mechanisms such as captive reinsurance or the Smart Home arrangements discussed below under “Reinsurance—Ceded.”
Our Surveillance group, within Portfolio Management, monitors and analyzes the performance of various risks in our mortgage insurance portfolio. Our Credit Analytics group then uses this information to develop our mortgage credit risk and counterparty risk policies, and as an input to our proprietary default and prepayment models. Our Valuation group, within Portfolio Management, analyzes the current composition of our mortgage insurance portfolio and monitors for compliance with our internally defined risk parameters. This analysis involves assessing risks to the portfolio from the market (e.g., the effects of changes in home prices and interest rates) and analyzing risks from particular lenders, products and geographic locales.
Our Credit Analytics group establishes and maintains mortgage-related, credit risk policies regarding our willingness to accept risk and counterparty, portfolio, operational and structured risks involving mortgage collateral. Credit Analytics also establishes risk guidelines for product types and loan attributes. The Credit Analytics group is also responsible for the quality control function by auditing individual loan files to examine underwriting decisions for compliance with agreed-upon underwriting guidelines. These audits are conducted across loans submitted through our delegated and non-delegated underwriting channels.
Our Loss Mitigation group, in cooperation with the Risk Origination and Servicing group, works with servicers to identify and pursue loss mitigation opportunities for loans in both our performing and non-performing (defaulted) portfolios. This work includes regular surveillance and benchmarking of servicer performance with respect to default reporting, borrower retention efforts, foreclosure alternatives and foreclosure processing. Through this process, we seek to hold servicers accountable for their performance and communicate to servicers identified best practices for servicer performance. In addition, we continue to participate in the large scale modification programs being led by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Federal Housing Finance Agency ("FHFA"), several top mortgage servicers and numerous borrower outreach campaigns. See "Regulation—Federal Regulation—Homeowner Assistance Programs" for further discussion of these programs.
We have used reinsurance in our mortgage insurance business for purposes of risk and capital management.
Smart Home. In 2004, we developed a program referred to as "Smart Home," for reinsuring risk associated with non-prime mortgages and riskier products. These reinsurance transactions effectively transfer risk from our portfolio to investors in the capital markets. Since August 2004, we have executed four Smart Home reinsurance transactions.
Each transaction began with the formation of an unaffiliated, offshore reinsurance company. We then entered into an agreement with the Smart Home reinsurer to cede to the reinsurer a portion of the risk (and premium) associated with a portfolio of loans. The Smart Home reinsurer was funded in the capital markets through the issuance to investors of a series of separate classes of credit-linked notes. Each class of notes relates to the loss coverage levels on the reinsured portfolio and is assigned a rating by one or more of the three major rating agencies.
Typically, we retained the risk associated with the first-loss coverage levels, and the risk associated with the senior most tranche of coverage. Holders of the Smart Home credit-linked notes bear the risk of loss from losses that would be paid to us under the reinsurance agreement, which consists of the layers of risk in between those that we retain. The Smart Home reinsurer invests the proceeds of the notes in high-quality short-term investments approved by the rating agencies. Income earned on those investments and a portion of the reinsurance premiums that we pay are applied to pay interest on the notes as well as certain of the Smart Home reinsurer’s expenses. The rate of principal amortization of the credit-linked notes is intended to approximate the rate of principal amortization of the underlying mortgages.
At December 31, 2011, $0.8 billion, or approximately 2.7% of our primary mortgage insurance risk in force, was included in Smart Home reinsurance transactions, compared to $1.0 billion, or approximately 3.2% at December 31, 2010. In February 2011, we exercised our option to terminate two of our four Smart Home transactions with risk in force of approximately $41 million. The two remaining transactions will mature within the next 18 months (one in November 2012 and one in June 2013), and the ultimate recoverable amounts from these transactions will be dependent upon the amount and timing of paid losses in these transactions through their respective maturity dates.
Captive Reinsurance. In the past, we and other companies in the mortgage insurance industry have participated in reinsurance arrangements with mortgage lenders commonly referred to as “captive reinsurance arrangements.” Under captive reinsurance arrangements, a mortgage lender typically establishes a reinsurance company that assumes part of the risk associated with the portfolio of that lender’s mortgages insured by us on a flow basis (as compared to mortgages insured in structured transactions, which typically are not eligible for captive reinsurance arrangements). In return for the reinsurance company’s assumption of a portion of the risk, we ceded a portion of the mortgage insurance premiums paid to us to the reinsurance company. Captive reinsurance typically was conducted on an "excess of loss" basis, with the captive reinsurer paying losses only after a certain level of losses had been incurred. In addition, we have offered, on a limited basis, “quota share” captive reinsurance arrangements under which the captive reinsurance company assumes a pro rata share of all losses in return for a pro rata share of the premiums collected.
In most cases, the risk assumed by the reinsurance company is an excess layer of aggregate losses that would be penetrated only in a situation of adverse loss development. During the recent housing and related credit market downturn in which losses have increased significantly, most captive reinsurance arrangements have “attached,” meaning that losses have exceeded the threshold so that we are now entitled to cash recoveries from the captive. In all cases, the captive reinsurer establishes a trust to secure our potential cash recoveries. We generally are the sole beneficiary under these trusts, and therefore, have the ability to initiate disbursements under the trusts in accordance with the terms of our captive reinsurance agreements. Ceded losses recoverable related to captives at December 31, 2011, were $90.1 million. We expect that most of the actual cash recoveries from these captives will be received over the next few years.
In some instances, we anticipate that the ultimate recoveries from the captive reinsurers will be greater than the assets currently held by the segregated trusts established for each captive reinsurer. Recorded recoverables, however, are limited to the current trust balances. All of our existing captive reinsurance arrangements are operating on a run-off basis, meaning that no new business is being placed in these captives. In 2010, we terminated a significant portion of our remaining captive reinsurance arrangements on a “cut-off” basis, meaning that the terminated captive arrangements were dissolved and all outstanding liabilities were settled.
As of December 31, 2011, we have received total cash reinsurance recoveries (including recoveries from the termination of captive arrangements) from Smart Home and captive reinsurance arrangements of approximately $786.3 million, since inception of these programs.
GSE Arrangements. We also have entered into risk/revenue-sharing arrangements with the GSEs whereby the primary insurance coverage amount on certain loans is recast into primary and pool insurance and our overall exposure is reduced in return for a payment made to the GSEs. Ceded premiums written and earned for the year ended December 31, 2011, were each $2.7 million under these programs and are expected to decline over time.
Other Reinsurance. Certain states limit the amount of risk a mortgage insurer may retain on a single loan to 25% of the total indebtedness to the insured. Radian Guaranty currently uses reinsurance from affiliated companies to remain in compliance with these insurance regulations. See “Regulation—State Regulation—Reinsurance” below. In addition, Radian Guaranty uses reinsurance with its subsidiary, Radian Insurance, to reduce its net risk in force. In 2010 and 2011, Radian Guaranty entered into three excess of loss reinsurance transactions with Radian Insurance under which Radian Guaranty transferred approximately $7.4 billion of risk in force to Radian Insurance. The pool of loans that have been reinsured by Radian Insurance generally consists of a higher concentration of recently underwritten fixed-rate, prime, high FICO loans.
The principal customers of our mortgage insurance business are mortgage originators such as mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, commercial banks, savings institutions, credit unions and community banks.
In an effort to diversify our customer base, beginning in 2009, we increased the amount of business we were conducting with credit unions and, in 2010, we increased the amount of business done with community banks that met our underwriting guidelines. In 2011, we added more than 400 new customers and significantly increased the amount of business coming from mid-sized mortgage banks.
As a result of this strategy, our mortgage insurance business in 2011 was dependent to a lesser degree on a small number of large lending customers. Our top 10 mortgage insurance customers, measured by primary new insurance written, represented 34.5% of our primary new insurance written in 2011, compared to 54.4% and 62.3% in 2010 and 2009, respectively. The largest single mortgage insurance customer (including branches and affiliates), measured by primary new insurance written, accounted for 10.1% of new insurance written during 2011, compared to 15.5% and 16.1% in 2010 and 2009, respectively. In 2011 and 2010, the premiums paid to us by each of Bank of America and Wells Fargo, exceeded 10% of our consolidated revenues.
Our sales and account management team consists of 64 persons, organized in various geographic regions across the U.S. Our New Business Development group focuses on the creation of new mortgage insurance relationships, while our Account Management group is responsible for supporting all existing mortgage insurance relationships. Mortgage insurance sales and account management personnel are compensated by salary, commissions for new insurance written and the creation or development of customer relationships, and other incentive-based pay tied to the achievement of certain sales goals. These incentive-based awards are reviewed to prevent excessive risk-taking.
We operate in the intensely competitive U.S. mortgage insurance industry. Our competitors include other private mortgage insurers and federal and state governmental and quasi-governmental agencies. We compete directly with five private mortgage insurers, including: CMG Mortgage Insurance Company, Essent Guaranty, Genworth Financial Inc., Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (“MGIC”), and United Guaranty Corporation. Until the middle of 2011, we also competed against two other private mortgage insurers—PMI Group Inc. ("PMI") and Republic Mortgage Insurance Company ("RMIC"). In the third quarter of 2011, these two longstanding competitors ceased writing new mortgage insurance commitments. In October 2011, RMIC went into runoff and in early 2012, RMIC was placed under the supervision of the insurance department of its domiciliary state. PMI ceased writing new mortgage insurance commitments in August 2011, when it was placed under the supervision, and later under the control of, the insurance department of its domiciliary state. In the fourth quarter of 2011, PMI's parent company filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
We compete with other private mortgage insurers on the basis of price, customer relationships, reputation, financial strength measures, and service. The service-based component includes effective delivery of products, risk management services, timeliness of claims payments, training, loss mitigation efforts and management and field service organization and expertise. Certain of our competitors are subsidiaries of larger corporations, and therefore, may have significantly greater financial and marketing resources and stronger financial strength ratings than ours.
We also compete with various federal and state governmental and quasi-governmental agencies, principally the FHA, the Veteran's Administration (“VA”) and state-sponsored mortgage insurance funds designed to eliminate the need to purchase private mortgage insurance. Beginning in 2008, the FHA, which historically had not been a significant competitor, substantially increased its market share of the insured mortgage market, and in recent years, the FHA has become the predominant insurer of low down payment mortgages, with a market share as high as 85.4% in both the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010. During 2010 and 2011, the private mortgage insurance industry has steadily recaptured market share from the FHA, primarily due to increases in the financial strength of certain private mortgage insurers, the development of new products and marketing efforts directed at competing with the FHA, as well as increases in the FHA's pricing. For the fourth quarter of 2011, the FHA's market share was reduced to 65.0% of the insured market. Recent legislative actions that have increased the FHA's maximum loan limits above those allowed for the GSEs and imposed higher guaranty fees for the GSEs could strengthen FHA's competitive position. Despite our recent progress in regaining market share, the FHA's market share remains historically high and could increase in the future See “Risk Factors—Our mortgage insurance business faces intense competition.”
Our financial guaranty segment has provided direct insurance and reinsurance on credit-based risks through Radian Asset Assurance, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Radian Guaranty. Financial guaranty insurance typically provides an unconditional and irrevocable guaranty to the holder of a financial obligation of full and timely payment of principal and interest when due. Financial guaranty insurance may be issued at the inception of an insured obligation or may be issued for the benefit of a holder of an obligation in the secondary market.
We have provided financial guaranty credit protection through the issuance of a financial guaranty insurance policy, by insuring the obligations under a CDS or through the reinsurance of such obligations. Both a financial guaranty insurance policy and a CDS provide the purchaser of such credit protection with a guaranty of the timely payment of interest and scheduled principal when due on a covered financial obligation, and in the case of most of our financial guaranty CDSs, credit protection for amounts in excess of specified levels of losses. These forms of credit enhancement each require similar underwriting and surveillance.
We historically offered the following financial guaranty products:
In 2008, in light of difficult market conditions and the downgrade of the financial strength ratings of our financial guaranty insurance subsidiaries, we discontinued writing any new financial guaranty business, other than as necessary to commute, restructure, hedge or otherwise mitigate losses or reduce exposure in our existing portfolio. Since 2008, we have significantly reduced our financial guaranty operations and have reduced our financial guaranty exposures through commutations in order to mitigate uncertainty, maximize the ultimate capital available for our mortgage insurance business and accelerate our access to that capital.
In January 2012, Radian Asset Assurance entered into a three-part transaction (the "Assured Transaction") with subsidiaries of Assured Guaranty Ltd. (collectively "Assured") that included the following:
This three-part transaction with Assured reduced our financial guaranty net par outstanding by approximately 22.5% and is expected to provide a statutory capital benefit to Radian Asset Assurance of approximately $100 million in the first quarter of 2012. Because Radian Asset Assurance is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Radian Guaranty, this transaction will also provide a statutory capital benefit of $100 million to Radian Guaranty. This transaction is consistent with our strategic objectives of accelerating the reduction of our financial guaranty net par outstanding and strengthening the statutory capital positions of Radian Asset Assurance and Radian Guaranty. Following the Assured Transaction, on February 22, 2012, Radian Asset Assurance agreed to terminate its arrangement with the National League of Cities ("NLC") to explore the formation of a new public finance mutual bond insurance company.
The vast majority of our public finance business consists of the insurance and reinsurance of a number of types of domestic public finance obligations, including the following:
General Obligation Bonds. General obligation bonds are full faith and credit bonds that are issued by states, their political subdivisions and other municipal issuers. These bonds are supported by the general obligation of the issuer to pay from available funds and are often coupled with a pledge of the issuer to levy taxes based on the value of real estate or personal property in an amount sufficient to provide for the full payment of the bonds or in an amount up to a prescribed limitation.
Other Tax Supported Bonds. Tax supported bonds are obligations that are supported by the issuer from specific and discrete sources of taxation. They include tax-backed revenue bonds, general fund obligations and lease revenue bonds. Tax-backed obligations may be secured by a lien on specific pledged tax revenues, such as a sales tax, gasoline tax or other excise tax, or incrementally from growth in property tax revenue associated with growth in property values. Tax supported bonds also include obligations secured by special assessments levied against property owners and often benefit from issuer covenants to enforce collections of such assessments and to foreclose on delinquent properties. Issuers may be special districts with jurisdiction to tax property within a designated smaller portion of the entire political subdivision; projects financed by bonds are issued for special districts to finance basic infrastructure improvements such as roads, lighting, drainage and utility improvements.
Tax supported bonds also include lease revenue bonds, which typically are general fund obligations of a municipality or other governmental authority that are subject to annual appropriation or abatement; projects financed and subject to such lease payments ordinarily include real estate or equipment serving an essential public purpose. Bonds in this category also include moral obligations of municipalities or governmental authorities.
Healthcare and Long-Term Care Bonds. Healthcare and long-term care bonds are obligations of healthcare facilities, including community based hospitals and systems, as well as of health maintenance organizations and long-term care facilities. This category of bonds also includes long-term care revenue bonds, which are obligations secured by revenues earned by private non-profit owners and operators of continuing care retirement community facilities or systems. Such obligations are also generally secured by mortgages on the real and personal property of the care facility.
Water/Sewer/Electric/Gas and Investor-Owned Utility Bonds. These bonds include municipal utility revenue bonds and investor-owned utility bonds. Municipal utility revenue bonds are obligations of all forms of municipal utilities, including electric, water and sewer utilities and resource recovery revenue bonds. These utilities may be organized in various forms, including municipal enterprise systems, authorities or joint action agencies. Investor-owned utility bonds are obligations primarily backed by investor-owned utilities, first mortgage bond obligations of for-profit electric or water utilities providing retail, industrial and commercial service, and also include sale-leaseback obligation bonds supported by such entities.
Airports/Transportation Bonds. These bonds include a wide variety of revenue-supported bonds, such as bonds for airports, ports, tunnels, municipal parking facilities, toll roads and toll bridges.
Education Bonds. Education bonds are obligations secured by revenue collected by either public or private secondary schools, colleges and universities. Such revenue can encompass all of an institution's revenues, including tuition and fees, or in other cases, can be specifically restricted to certain auxiliary sources of revenue.
Housing Bonds. Housing bonds are obligations relating to both single and multi-family housing, issued by states and localities, supported by the cash flow and, in some cases, insurance from entities such as the FHA or private mortgage insurers.
Other Municipal Bonds. These bonds include other debt issued, guaranteed or otherwise supported by U.S. national or local governmental authorities, as well as student loans, revenue bonds, and obligations of some not-for-profit organizations. Other municipal bonds also include other types of municipal obligations, including human service providers, second-to-pay, international public finance, non-profit institutions and infrastructure bonds (which are obligations issued by a variety of entities engaged in the financing of infrastructure projects, such as roads, airports, ports, social infrastructure and other physical assets delivering essential services supported by long-term concession arrangements with a public sector entity).
Our structured finance business has included ABS and other asset-backed or mortgage-backed obligations, including both funded and synthetic CDOs.
Funded asset-backed obligations usually take the form of a secured interest in a pool of assets, often of uniform credit quality, such as credit card or auto loan receivables, commercial or residential mortgages or life insurance policies. Funded ABS also may be secured by a few specific assets such as utility mortgage bonds and multi-family housing bonds. In addition, we have insured future flow DPRs transactions, where our insured obligations are backed by electronic payment orders intended for third-party beneficiaries (e.g., trade-related payments, individual remittances, and foreign direct investments).
The performance of synthetic asset-backed obligations is tied to the performance of specific pools of assets, but the obligations are not secured by those assets. Most of the synthetic transactions we insure are CDOs. In many of these transactions, primarily our corporate CDOs, we generally are required to make payments to our counterparty above a specified level of subordination upon the occurrence of credit events related to the borrowings or bankruptcy of obligors contained within pools of corporate obligations or, in the case of pools of mortgage or other asset-backed obligations, upon the occurrence of credit events related to the specific obligations in the pool. When we provide synthetic credit protection on a specific credit, our payment obligations to our counterparties are generally the same as those we have when we insure credits through a financial guaranty insurance policy. However, unlike most of our financial guaranty insurance policy obligations, where we have subrogation and other rights and remedies, we generally do not have recourse or other rights and remedies against the issuer and/or any related assets for amounts we may be obligated to pay under these transactions. Even in those cases where we have recourse or any rights and remedies, such recourse, rights and remedies are generally much more limited than the recourse, rights and remedies we generally have in our more traditional financial guaranty transactions, and frequently need to be exercised indirectly through our counterparty.
A CDO pool typically is composed of assets of various credit quality or that possess different characteristics with respect to interest rates, amortization and level of subordination. We primarily have provided credit protection in our CDO portfolio with respect to the following types of collateral: corporate debt obligations, TruPs, commercial mortgage-backed securities (“CMBS”), ABS (which includes RMBS), collateralized loan obligations (“CLOs”) and CDOs containing a combination of such collateral types.
In our corporate CDO transactions, we provide credit protection for certain specified credit events related to the borrowings or bankruptcy of obligors contained within pools of corporate obligations. In our TruPs transactions, we provide credit protection for the timely payment of interest and principal when due on a bond (a “TruPs bond”) representing a senior tranche of a CDO comprised mainly of TruPs. The collateral for TruPs CDOs generally consists of subordinated debt obligations or preferred equity issued by banks, insurance companies, real estate investment trusts and other financial institutions. TruPs are subordinated to substantially all of an issuing institution’s debt obligations, but are senior to payments on equity securities of such issuer (including equity securities purchased by the U.S. government under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”)).
In our CDOs of CMBS transactions, we provide credit protection for the timely payment of interest (but only up to the amount of future premium payable to us) and principal when due on these pools of securities. In our senior-most tranche of a CDO of ABS transaction (the "CDO of ABS") and our CLO transactions, we insure the timely payment of current interest and the ultimate payment of principal on a senior class of notes whose payment obligations are secured by pools of ABS, predominantly mezzanine-tranches of RMBS securities and corporate loans or tranches of CLOs, respectively.
In some circumstances, we have provided “second-to-pay” credit protection in which we are not required to pay a claim unless both the underlying obligation defaults and another insurer defaults on its primary insurance obligation to pay a valid claim.
We reinsure direct financial guarantees written by other primary financial guaranty insurers or “ceding companies.” Reinsurance allows a ceding company to write larger single risks and larger aggregate risks while remaining in compliance with the risk limits and capital requirements of applicable state insurance laws, rating agency guidelines and internal limits. State insurance regulators allow a ceding company to reduce the liabilities appearing on its balance sheet to the extent of reinsurance coverage obtained from licensed reinsurers or from unlicensed reinsurers meeting certain solvency and other financial criteria. Similarly, the rating agencies may permit a reduction in both exposures and liabilities ceded under reinsurance agreements, with the amount of reduction permitted dependent on the financial strength rating of the insurer and reinsurer.
As a result of multiple downgrades of the financial strength ratings of our financial guaranty insurance subsidiaries beginning in June 2008, all of our financial guaranty reinsurance treaties have been terminated on a “run-off” basis, which means that none of our ceding companies may cede additional business to us under our reinsurance agreements with them. The business they previously ceded to us under these agreements will remain outstanding (and a part of our risk in force) until such time as the ceding company elects to recapture such business or we mutually agree to a commutation of such risk.
Treaty and Facultative Agreements. The principal forms of reinsurance agreements are treaty and facultative. Under our treaty agreements, the ceding company was obligated to cede to us, and we were obligated to assume, a specified portion of all risks, within ranges, of transactions deemed eligible for reinsurance by the terms of the negotiated treaty. Limitations on transactions deemed eligible for reinsurance typically focused on the size, security and ratings of the insured obligation. Each treaty was entered into for a defined term, generally one year, with renewals upon mutual consent and rights to early termination under certain circumstances.
In treaty reinsurance, there is a risk that the ceding company may select weaker credits or proportionally larger amounts to cede to us. We have attempted to mitigate this risk by requiring the ceding company to retain a portion of each ceded risk, and we included limitations on individual transactions and on aggregate amounts within each type of transaction.
Under a facultative agreement, the ceding company had the option to offer to us, and we had the option to accept, a portion of specific risks, usually in connection with particular obligations. Unlike under a treaty agreement, where we generally relied on the ceding company’s credit analysis, under a facultative agreement, we often performed our own underwriting and credit analysis to supplement the ceding company’s analysis in order to determine whether to accept the particular risk. The majority of our financial guaranty reinsurance was provided under treaty arrangements.
Ceded Reinsurance. Historically, Radian Asset Assurance has ceded only an immaterial amount of its directly insured portfolio. However, in January 2012, pursuant to the Assured Cession, Radian Asset Assurance ceded approximately $1.8 billion of its direct public finance net par outstanding to Assured. Concurrently with the Assured Cession, Radian Asset Assurance entered into an administrative services agreement with Assured requiring them to provide surveillance, risk management, claims administration and claims payment services in connection with the policies ceded to Assured pursuant to the Assured Cession.
In our financial guaranty business, the issuer of an insured obligation generally pays the premiums for our insurance, either in full at the inception of the policy, which is the case of most public finance transactions, or, in the case of most non-synthetic structured finance transactions, in regular monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual installments from the cash flows of the related collateral. Premiums for synthetic CDSs are generally paid in periodic installments (i.e. monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually) directly from our counterparty, and such payments are not dependent upon the cash flows of the insured obligation or the collateral supporting the obligation. In such cases, the corporate creditworthiness of our counterparty is a more important factor than the cash flows from the insured collateral in determining whether we will receive payment. In addition, we generally have a right to terminate our synthetic transactions without penalty if our counterparty fails to pay us, or is financially unable to make timely payments to us under the terms of the CDS transactions.
For public finance transactions, premium rates typically represent a percentage of debt service, which includes total principal and interest. For structured finance obligations, premium rates are typically stated as a percentage of the total par outstanding. Premiums are generally non-refundable. Premiums paid in full at inception are recorded initially as unearned premiums and “earned” over the life of the insured obligation (or the coverage period for such obligation, if shorter).
Our business has traditionally involved taking credit risk in various forms across various asset classes, products and geographies. Credit risk is measured in our financial guaranty business as net par outstanding, which represents our proportionate share of the aggregate outstanding principal exposure on insured obligations. We are also responsible for the timely payment of interest on substantially all of our public finance and our non-corporate CDO structured finance insured financial guaranty obligations. For our insured corporate CDOs and CDOs of CMBS, net par outstanding represents the notional amount of credit protection we are providing on a pool of obligations. Our total financial guaranty net par outstanding was $69.2 billion as of December 31, 2011, compared to $78.8 billion as of December 31, 2010. After giving effect to the Assured Transaction and the February 2012 CDO Terminations (as defined below in "—Financial Guaranty Exposure Currently Subject to Recapture or Termination"), our total financial guaranty net par outstanding was $47.8 billion.
The following table shows the distribution of our financial guaranty segment’s net par outstanding by type of exposure and as a percentage of financial guaranty’s total net par outstanding, as of the dates indicated.
The Assured Transaction significantly reduced our net par outstanding to many types of public finance obligations. The following table shows the distribution of our financial guaranty segment’s net par outstanding by type of exposure and as a percentage of financial guaranty’s total net par outstanding, after giving effect to the Assured Transaction: