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Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas R O B ERT D. M cTEER, JR. DALLAS, TE XAS PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER 75265-5906 August 25, 1997 Notice 97-73 TO: The Chief Executive Officer of each financial institution and others concerned in the Eleventh Federal Reserve District SUBJECT Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance DETAILS The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) has published a reference document on the federal flood insurance legislation titled Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance. The publication, which answers the most frequently asked questions about flood insurance, was published by the FFIEC on behalf of its member banking regulatory agencies. To the extent possible, the publication consolidates useful information about the revised flood insurance regulations issued by the agencies in August 1996. In addition, the publication contains informal staff guidance for agency personnel, financial institutions and the public. The agencies plan to update the publication regularly and invite public comment and new questions on flood insurance. ATTACHMENTS The FFIEC’s notice and the reference document as they appear on pages 39523-30, Vol. 62, No. 141, of the Federal Register dated July 23, 1997, are attached. MORE INFORMATION For more information, please contact Peggy Atcher at (214) 922-6202. For additional copies of this Bank’s notice, please contact the Public Affairs Department at (214) 922-5254. Sincerely yours, J9 ■ • This publication was digitized and made available by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' Historical Library (FedHistory@dal.frb.org) For additional copies, bankers and others are encouraged to use one of the following toll-free numbers in contacting the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas: Dallas Office (800) 333-4460; El Paso Branch Intrastate (800) 592-1631, Interstate (800) 351-1012; Houston Branch Intrastate (800) 392-4162. Interstate (8001 221-0363: San Antonio Branch Intrastate ('80(11 292-5810. Federal Register / Vol. 62, No. 141 / Wednesday, July 23, 1997 / Notices 39523 FEDERAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS EXAMINATION COUNCIL Loans in Areas Having Special Flood Hazards; Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance AGENCY: Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. ACTION: Notice and request for comment. The Consumer Compliance Task Force of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) is issuing Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance (Interagency Questions and Answers). To help financial institutions m eet their responsibilities under federal flood insurance legislation and to increase public understanding of their flood insurance regulations, the staffs of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve Board (Board), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), the Farm Credit A dm inistration (FCA), and the National Credit Union A dm inistration (NCUA) (collectively, the agencies) have prepared answers to the m ost frequently asked questions about flood insurance. The Interagency Questions and Answers contain informal staff guidance for agency personnel, financial institutions, and the public. DATES: Public comment is invited on a continuing basis. ADDRESSES: Questions and comments may be sent to Joe M. Cleaver, Executive Secretary, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite 200, W ashington, DC 20037, or by facsimile transm ission to (202) 634-6556. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: OCC: Carol Workman, Compliance Specialist, Compliance Management, (202) 874-4858; or Margaret Hesse, Senior Attorney, Com munity and 39524 Federal Register / Vol. 62, No. 141 / Wednesday, July 23, 1997 / Notices in the sum m er of 1996. See 61 FR 45684 Consumer Law Division, (202) 8745750, Office of the Comptroller of the (August 29, 1996). Currency, 250 E Street, SW., The agencies received a num ber of W ashington, DC 20219. requests in the rulemaking process to Board: Thomas Grundy, Review clarify specific issues covering a wide Examiner, Division of Consumer and spectrum of the proposed rule’s Community Affairs, (202) 452-3946; or provisions. M any of these requests were Lawranne Stewart, Senior Attorney, Legal Division, (202) 452-3513, Board of addressed in the preamble to the joint final rule. The agencies concluded, Governors of the Federal Reserve however, given the number, level of System, 20th Street and Constitution detail, and diversity of subject matter of Avenue, NW., W ashington, DC 20551. the requests for additional information, For the hearing im paired only, Telecom m unication Device for the Deaf that informal staff guidance addressing the more technical com pliance issues (TDD), Earnestine Hill or Dorothea w ould be helpful and appropriate. Thompson, (202) 452-3544. Consequently, the agencies decided to FDIC: Ken Baebel, Senior Review issue informal guidance to address these Examiner, Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs, (202) 942-3086; or technical issues subsequent to the Mark Mellon, Counsel, Legal Division, promulgation of the final rule. 61 FR at (202) 898-3854; Federal Deposit 45685-45686. This objective is fulfilled Insurance Corporation, 550 17th Street, by the release of the Interagency NW., W ashington, DC 20429. Questions and Answers. OTS: Larry Clark, Senior Manager, The purpose of these Interagency Compliance and Trust Programs, (202) Questions and Answers is to 906-5628; Ronald Dice, Program consolidate, to the extent possible, Analyst, Compliance Policy, (202) 906useful flood insurance information into 5633; or Catherine Shepard, Senior a comprehensive document. These Attorney, Regulations and Legislation Interagency Questions and Answers Division, (202) 906-7275, Office of supplem ent other docum ents that the Chief Counsel, Office of Thrift agencies are not superseding, including, Supervision, 1700 G Street, NW., for example, interagency staff flood W ashington, DC 20552. insurance interpretive letters. FCA: Robert G. Magnuson, Policy Analyst, Regulation Development Comments Division, Office of Policy Development and Risk Control, (703) 883-4498; or The agencies invite public comment W illiam L. Larsen, Senior Attorney, on a continuing basis. The agencies Legal Counsel Division, Office of intend to update the Interagency General Counsel, (703) 883-4020, Farm Questions and Answers on a regular Credit A dm inistration, 1501 Farm basis. If, after reading the Interagency Credit Drive, McLean, VA 22102-5090. Questions and Answers, financial For the hearing im paired only, TDD, institutions, examiners, community (703) 883-4444. groups, or other interested parties have NCUA: Kimberly Iverson, Program unansw ered questions or comments Officer, Office of Exam ination and about the agencies’ flood insurance Insurance, (703) 518-6375, National regulations, they should subm it them to Credit Union A dm inistration, 1775 the agencies. The agencies w ill consider Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314including these questions in future 3428. guidance. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 (the Reform Act) (Title V of the Riegle Comm unity Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994) com prehensively revised the two federal flood insurance statutes, the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 and the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973. The Reform Act required the OCC, Board, FDIC, OTS, and NCUA to revise their current flood insurance regulations and required the FCA to promulgate flood insurance regulations for the first time. The agencies fulfilled these requirem ents by issuing a joint final rule Interagency Questions and Answers Format The Interagency Questions and Answers are organized by topic. Each topic addresses a major area of the revised flood insurance law and regulations such as the requirem ent to purchase flood insurance where available, escrow requirements, forced placem ent, et cetera. The text of the Interagency Questions and Answers follows: Text of the Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance Table of Contents The agencies are providing answ ers to questions pertaining to the following topics of the flood insurance laws and regulations: I. Definitions. II. Requirement to purchase flood insurance w here available. III. Exemptions. IV. Escrow requirem ents. V. Required use of Standard Flood Hazard D eterm ination Form (SFHDF). VI. Forced placem ent of flood insurance. VII. D eterm ination fees. VIII. Notice of special flood hazards and availability of Federal disaster relief. IX. Notice of servicer’s identity. X. A ppendix A to the Regulation—Sample Form of Notice of Special Flood Hazards and Availability of Federal Disaster Relief Assistance. The body of the Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance follows: This docum ent answers commonly asked questions about the revised flood insurance laws and regulations that have been raised by financial institutions and other interested parties. It was prepared by staff from the Farm Credit A dm inistration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board, the National Credit U nion Adm inistration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision under the auspices of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. The docum ent does not anticipate all circumstances or contingencies that may affect particular financial institutions. As experience w ith the application of the revised regulation is gained, the agencies will issue further staff guidance. For ease of reference the following terms are used throughout the document: Act refers to the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 (Title V of the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994 [Pub. L. 103325, title V, 108 Stat. 2160, 2255-2287 (September 23, 1994)]). Regulation refers to the joint final rule adopted by the agencies (61 FR 45684 (August 29, 1996)). I. Definitions Designated Loan—A loan secured by a building or mobile hom e that is located or to be located in a special flood hazard area (SFHA) in w hich flood insurance is available under the Act. . . Federal Register / Vol. 62, No. 141 / Wednesday, July 23, 1997 / Notices 1. Is an interim loan to construct a commercial building included in this definition? Answer: Yes. If the purpose of the loan is to construct a building (assuming the loan is secured by that building), the Regulation applies. If the com m unity in w hich the property is located participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), then NFIP policies, subject to certain conditions and restrictions, can be purchased to provide coverage during the construction period for a building that w ill be located in an SFHA. 2. Are loans secured by raw land that w ill be developed into buildable lots subject to the Regulation? Answer: No. A cquisition and developm ent loans w ould not be subject to the Regulation because they do not m eet the definition of a “ designated loan.” However, w hen the final construction phase of an ADC (acquisition, development, construction) project is commenced, the Regulation becomes effective. This w ill require lenders to determ ine w hether the property is located in an SFHA. If the building securing the loan is located or to be located in an SFHA, the other requirem ents of the Regulation w ill also apply. As noted above, the NFIP permits policies (subject to certain conditions and restrictions) to be purchased prior to the actual construction of a building. 3. Is a home equity loan considered a “ designated loan”? Answer: Yes, a home equity (or other) loan can be a designated loan, regardless of the lien priority if: the loan is secured by a building or a mobile home; the collateral is located in an SFHA; and, the com m unity w here the property is located participates in the NFIP. 4. Are draws against approved lines of credit a “triggering event” requiring a flood determ ination under the Regulation or is it only the original application for the line of credit that triggers a determination? Answer: Assuming that the line of credit is secured by a building and is thereby a “ designated loan,” a determ ination is required w hen application is m ade for the loan. Draws against an approved line w ould not require further determinations. However, a request for an increase in the line of approved credit is a triggering event and might require a new determ ination, depending up on w hether a previous determ ination was done. (See the response to Q uestion 4 in Section V, Required use of Standard Flood Hazard Determination Form) 5. If the loan request is to finance inventory stored in a building located w ithin an SFHA but the building is not security for the loan, is flood insurance required? Answer: No. The Act looks to the collateral securing the loan. In this example, the collateral does not meet the definition of a “designated loan” because it is not a building or mobile home. 6. If the building and contents both secure the loan, and the building is located in an SFHA, in a com m unity that participates in the NFIP, what are the requirem ents for flood insurance? W hat if the contents securing the loan are located in buildings other than the building securing the loan? Answer: Flood insurance is required for the building located in the SFHA and any contents stored in that building. If collateral securing the loan is stored in buildings that do not secure the loan and these buildings are not located in an SFHA, then flood insurance is not required on those contents. 7. Does the Regulation apply where the lender is taking a security interest only as an “abundance of caution”? Answer: Yes. The Act looks to the collateral securing the loan, not to the purpose of the loan. If the lender takes a security interest in im proved real estate, the Regulation applies w ithout regard to the purpose of the loan. 8. If a borrower offers a note on a single family dwelling as collateral for a personal loan but the lender does not take a security interest in the dwelling itself, is this a “ designated loan”? Answer: No. A designated loan is a loan secured by a building or mobile home. In this example, the lender did not take a security interest in the building, therefore, the loan is not a “designated loan.” 9. Does the Regulation apply to loans that are being restructured because of the borrow er’s default on the original loan? Answer: Yes, assuming that the loan otherwise meets the definition of a “designated loan” and if the lender increases the am ount of the loan, or extends or renew s the terms of the original loan. 10. A lender makes a loan (not secured by real estate) on the condition that a third party personally guarantees the loan and permits the lender to take a security interest in im proved real estate owned by the th ird party. Is this a “ designated loan” to w hich the Regulation applies if the guarantor’s property is located in an SFHA in a com m unity that participates in the NFIP? Answer: Yes. The making of a loan on condition of a personal guarantee by a third party and further secured by im proved real estate owned by that 39525 third party is so closely tied to the making of the loan that it is considered a “designated loan” u nder the Regulation. II. Requirement to Purchase Flood Insurance Where Available 1. If flood insurance is not available because the com m unity in w hich the property securing the loan is located is a non-participating com m unity in the NFIP, does the Regulation apply? Answer: Yes. The Regulation still applies, although it does not require the borrower to obtain flood insurance. The lender m ust make a determ ination on the Special Flood Hazard Determination Form (SFHDF) to determine if the property is located in an SFHA and notify the borrower. The lender may make a conventional loan in an SFHA in a non-participating com m unity if it chooses to do so. Governmentguaranteed or insured loans (e.g., SBA, VA, FHA), however, are not perm itted to be m ade in non-participating com m unities (see 42 USC § 4106(a)). Nevertheless, institutions should exercise good risk management practices to ensure that making loans on properties that are in an SFHA where no flood insurance is available does not create unacceptable risks in an institution’s loan portfolio. 2. Does the Regulation apply to loans purchased from others? Answer: No. The Regulation lists certain events that trigger its requirements: making, increasing, extending or renewing a designated loan. The purchase of a loan is not an event that requires the purchaser to make a new determ ination at the time of purchase. However, if the lender becomes aware at some point during the life of the loan that flood insurance is required, then the lender m ust comply w ith the Regulation. Similarly, if the lender extends, increases or renews the loan, the Regulation applies. 3. What about table funding programs? Are they treated as originations or as loans purchased from others? Answer: Loans m ade through a table funding process w ill be treated as though the party providing the funds has originated the loan. The funding party m ust comply w ith the Regulation. The table funding lender can m eet the adm inistrative requirem ents of the Regulation by requiring the party processing and underw riting the application to perform those functions on its behalf. 4. How are loans that are now u n d er insured because of previous insurance limitations to be handled? 39526 Federal Register / Vol. 62, No. 141 / Wednesday, July 23, 1997 / Notices servicing contract should require the Answer: In accordance w ith the Act, servicer to comply w ith all the the Federal Insurance Adm inistration requirem ents that are im posed on the has increased the am ount of insurance available under the NFIP. Consequently, lender as owner of the loan, including escrow of insurance prem ium s and loans that previously had principal forced placem ent (if necessary). balances in excess of the program limits More generally, the Regulation does may now be underinsured. The new insurance lim itations w ent into effect on not impose obligations on a loan servicer independent from the M arch 1, 1995. Lenders and servicers obligations it imposes on the owner of m ust adjust coverage limits at the first a loan. Loan servicers are covered by the renew al date or the first anniversary escrow, forced placem ent and flood date following M arch 1,1995, if the hazard determ ination fee provisions of policy is a multi-year policy. Loans the Act and Regulation prim arily to m ade after M arch 1, 1995, are subject to ensure that they may perform the the new limits. adm inistrative tasks for the lender, 5. If the insurable value of the w ithout fear of liability to the borrower building securing the loan is less than for the im position of unauthorized the outstanding balance of the loan, can charges. In addition, the preamble to the a lender require the borrower to obtain Regulation emphasizes that the flood insurance up to the balance of the obligation of a loan servicer to fulfill loan? Answer: No. The insurable value of adm inistrative duties w ith respect to the the improvements to the real estate that flood insurance requirem ents arises secures the loan governs the am ount of from the contractual relationship insurance that is required. The am ount betw een the loan servicer and the lender of required insurance coverage is the or from other commonly accepted lesser of the principal balance of the standards for performance of servicing loan(s) or the m axim um coverage obligations. The lender remains available under the NFIP. An NFIP ultim ately liable for fulfillment of those policy w ill not provide insurance responsibilities, and m ust take adequate coverage for losses in excess of the value steps to ensure that the loan servicer of the improvements. Since the NFIP w ill m aintain com pliance w ith the flood policy does not cover land value, insurance requirements. Scenario 2—Loan is originated by a lenders should determ ine the am ount of non-regulated lender. Property is insurance necessary based on the value located in an SFHA b ut the lender did of the improvements. 6. How do the flood insurance not make an initial determ ination or requirem ents apply in situations notify borrower of the need to obtain involving loan servicing? insurance. Loan is purchased by Scenario 1—Loan is originated by a regulated lender w ho also services the regulated lender and secured by a loan. W hat are the responsibilities of the building on property located in an regulated lender? W hat if the regulated SFHA in a com m unity in w hich flood lender only purchases the servicing insurance is available u nder the Act. rights? Answer: If the loan is purchased by Borrower is provided appropriate notice the regulated lender, no determ ination and insurance is obtained. Lender is necessary at that point nor is any services the loan. Loan is subsequently notice to FEMA required. If, at some sold to a non-regulated party and servicing is transferred to that party. tim e in the future, the lender becomes aware that the property is located in an W hat responsibilities are im posed on SFHA in a com m unity in w hich flood the regulated lender? W hat if the regulated lender only transfers or sells insurance is available under the Act, it m ust notify the borrower of that fact and the servicing rights? Answer: The le n d e r m ust comply w ith require the borrower to purchase flood all requirem ents of the Regulation, insurance. If the borrower does not including making the initial voluntarily comply, the lender m ust determ ination, providing appropriate force place the insurance. If servicing is notice to the borrower, and ensuring subsequently sold or transferred, the that the proper am ount of insurance is lender m ust also notify FEMA or its obtained. W hen the loan is sold and designee of the identity of the new servicing is transferred to the new servicer. servicer, the lender m ust provide notice If the regulated lender purchases only the servicing rights to the loan, the of the identity of the new servicer to FEMA or its designee. lender is only obligated to follow the If the lender retains ow nership of the terms of its servicing contract w ith the loan and only transfers or sells servicing owner of the loan. 7. A loan is secured by m ultiple rights to a non-regulated party, the lender m ust notify FEMA or its designee agricultural buildings located of the identity of the new servicer. The throughout a large geographic area. Some of the properties are located in an SFHA and others are not. In addition, the buildings are located in several jurisdictions or counties where some of the communities participate in the NFIP, and others do not. W hat are the flood insurance requirem ents for security properties in this scenario? Answer: Flood insurance w ould be required only on those buildings located in an SFHA in w hich the com m unity participates in the NFIP. A notice of special flood hazards is required for those buildings located in an SFHA w hether or not the com m unity participates in the NFIP. The am ount of insurance required w ill depend upon the principal am ount of the loan, the value of the buildings located in participating com m unities and the am ount of insurance available u n der the NFIP. For example, a loan in the principal am ount of $150,000 is secured by 5 buildings, 3 of w hich are located in SFHAs w ithin participating communities. The properties are nonresidential in nature, therefore the m axim um am ount of insurance available under the NFIP is $500,000 per building. Each of the three buildings located in an SFHA m ust be covered by flood insurance. The total required am ount of insurance for the three buildings w ould be the lesser of $150,000 or the value of the three buildings w ith each building insured separately from the other. The am ount of required flood insurance could be allocated among the three buildings in varying am ounts, so long as each is covered by flood insurance. 8. W hat is the appropriate am ount of coverage under federal flood insurance legislation w ith respect to condom inium s, in particular, m ulti story condom inium complexes? Answer: Effective October 1,1994, the Federal Insurance A dm inistration issued a new form of Master Policy for condom inium s—the Residential Condom inium Building Association Policy (RCBAP). To m eet federal flood insurance requirements, an RCBAP should be purchased in the am ount of at least 80% of the replacem ent value of the building or the m axim um am ount available under the NFIP (currently $250,000 m ultiplied by the num ber of units), w hichever is less. For instance, the m axim um am ount of coverage on a 50 unit condom inium building could be up to $12,500,000 ($250,000 x 50). However, if the replacem ent value of the building was only $10,000,000, the condom inium association could purchase a policy of $8,000,000 and not be required to have a co-insurance paym ent in the event of a flood. The Federal Register / Vol. 62, No. 141 / Wednesday, July 23, 1997 / Notices $8,000,000 of coverage w ould m eet the requirements of the Regulation for all the units w ithin the condom inium . A lender should make a sim ilar analysis to determ ine the am ount of coverage for other condom inium complexes where flood insurance is required. W hen making a loan on a condom inium unit located in an SFHA, lenders should determ ine w hether a master policy or similar product, provides adequate flood insurance coverage and is in place at the time the loan is made. Lenders should further ensure th at a m echanism is in place (possibly a covenant on the part of the condom inium association) that provides for adequate flood insurance coverage for the term of the loan. 9. A lender has a loan secured by a condom inium unit in a m ulti-unit complex w hose condom inium association allows its existing flood insurance policy to lapse. As a result, there is no flood insurance coverage for the condom inium unit. W hat recourse does the lender have? Answer: The NFIP does make an individual condom inium un it policy available (the Dwelling Form), in addition to association master policies. In this instance, the lender after receiving notice that the association policy has lapsed, m ust notify the unit owner according to the forced placem ent procedures to obtain a policy (within 45 days) for the am ount of the loan or the m axim um am ount of coverage available, w hichever is less. III. Exemptions 1. What are the exemptions from coverage? Answer: There are only two exemptions from the purchase requirements: The first applies to Stateow ned property covered u n der a policy of self-insurance satisfactory to the Director of FEMA. The second applies if the original principal balance of the loan is $5,000 or less, and the original repaym ent term is one year or less. Both of these conditions m ust be present for the second exem ption to apply. IV. Escrow Requirements 1. The effective date of the escrow requirem ent was October 1,1996. Does the escrow requirem ent apply to applications received before October 1, 1996? Answer: No. The escrow requirem ent applies only to loans closed on or after October 1, 1996. 2. Are multi-fam ily buildings or mixed-use properties included in the definition of “residential im proved real estate”? Are escrows required? Answer: The Regulation states that if the collateral securing the loan meets the definition of “residential im proved real estate” and the lender requires escrows for other items (e.g., hazard insurance or taxes), then the lender is required to also escrow flood insurance premiums. M ulti-fam ily buildings. Neither the Act nor the Regulation distinguishes w hether residential im proved real estate is single or multi-family, or w hether it is owner or renter-occupied. The preamble to the Regulation indicates that single family dwellings (including mobile homes), two to four family dwellings, and multi-family properties containing five or more residential units are covered under the A ct’s escrow provisions. If the building securing the loan meets the Regulation’s definition of residential im proved real estate, and the lender requires the escrow of other items, such as taxes or hazard insurance prem ium s, the lender is required to also escrow prem ium s and fees for flood insurance. M ixed-use properties. The lender should look to the prim ary use of a building to determ ine if it meets the definition of “residential im proved real estate.” For example, a building having a retail store on the ground level w ith a small upstairs apartm ent used by the store’s owner is generally considered a commercial enterprise and consequently w ould not constitute a residential building under the definition. Even though the Regulation does not require escrows for flood insurance, the lender may impose such a requirem ent through contract. On the other hand, if the prim ary use of a mixed-use property is for residential purposes, the Regulation’s escrow requirem ents apply. 3. W hen m ust escrow accounts established for flood insurance purposes be adm inistered in accordance w ith the escrow rules u nder Section 10 of RESPA? Answer: Lenders should look to the definition of “federally related mortgage loan” contained in RESPA to see if a particular loan is subject to Section 10. Generally, only loans on one to four family dwellings w ill be subject to the escrow requirem ents of RESPA. Consequently, only those escrow accounts established for loans subject to RESPA are required to conform w ith Section 10 of RESPA. Loans on m ulti family dwellings w ith five or more units are not covered by RESPA requirements. Pursuant to the Regulation, however, lenders m ust escrow prem ium s and fees for any required flood insurance if the lender requires escrows for other purposes such as hazard insurance or 39527 taxes. This requirem ent pertains to any loan, including those subject to RESPA. The preceding paragraph addresses the requirem ent for adm inistering loans covered by RESPA. The preamble to the Regulation contains a more detailed discussion of the escrow requirements. 4. Do voluntary escrow accounts established at the request of the borrower, trigger a requirem ent for the lender to escrow prem ium s for required flood insurance? Answer: No. If escrow accounts for other purposes are established at the voluntary request of the borrower, the lender is not required to establish escrow accounts for flood insurance premiums. Examiners should review the loan policies of the lender and the underlying legal obligation betw een the parties to the loan to determ ine w hether the accounts are in fact voluntary. For example, If the loan policies of the lending institution require borrowers to establish escrow accounts for other purposes and the contractual obligation permits the lender to establish escrow accounts for those other purposes, the lender w ill have the burden of demonstrating that an existing escrow was not made pursuant to a voluntary request. 5. Will prem ium s paid for credit life insurance, disability insurance, or similar insurance programs be viewed as escrow accounts requiring the escrow of flood insurance premiums? Answer: No. Premiums paid for these types of insurance policies w ill not trigger the escrow requirem ent for flood insurance premiums. 6. W ill escrow-type accounts for m ulti-family building commercial loans trigger the escrow requirem ent for flood insurance prem iums? Answer: Various types of accounts are established in connection w ith commercial purpose real estate loans. These loans typically involve m ulti family properties and are substantially different in purpose and type from escrows accounts on single family residences. These involve accounts such as “interest reserve accounts,” “compensating balance accounts,” “m arketing accounts,” and similar accounts th at may be established by contract betw een the purchaser and seller of the building (although adm inistered by the lender in some cases). Accounts established in connection w ith the underlying agreement betw een the buyer and seller, or that relate to the commercial venture itself are not the type of accounts that constitute escrow accounts for the purpose of the Regulation. Escrow accounts for the protection of the property, such as escrows for hazard 39528 Federal Register / Vol. 62, No. 141 / Wednesday, July 23, 1997 / Notices insurance prem ium s or local real estate taxes, are the types of escrows that trigger the requirem ent to escrow flood insurance premiums. 7. W hat requirem ents for escrow accounts apply to properties covered by Residential Condom inium Building Association Policies? Answer: RCBAPs are policies purchased by the condom inium association on behalf of the individual unit owners in the condom inium . The prem ium s on the policy are paid by a portion of the periodic dues paid to the association by the condom inium owners. W hen a lender makes a loan on the purchase of a condom inium over w hich a RCBAP is in place and the prem ium s are paid by dues to the condom inium association, the escrow requirem ent is satisfied. Lenders should exercise due diligence w ith respect to continuing com pliance w ith the insurance requirem ents on the part of the condom inium association. V. Required Use of Standard Flood Hazard Determination Form (SFHDF) 1. Does the SFHDF replace the borrow er notification form? Answer: No. The notification form is used to notify the borrower(s) that they are purchasing im proved property located in an SFHA. The financial regulatory agencies, in consultation w ith FEMA, included a revised version of the sample borrower notification form in A ppendix A to the Regulation. The SFHDF is used by the lender to determ ine w hether the property securing the loan is located in an SFHA. 2. Must the SFHDF be provided to the borrower? If so, m ust the borrower sign the form acknowledging receipt? Answer: W hile it may be a common practice in some areas for lenders to provide a copy of the SFHDF to the borrower to give to the insurance agent, lenders are neither required nor prohibited from providing the borrower w ith a copy of the form. Signature of the borrower is not required on the SFHDF. 3. May the SFHDF be used in electronic format? Answer: Yes. FEMA, in the final rule adopting the SFHDF stated: “If an electronic format is used, the format and exact layout of the Standard Flood Hazard Determination Form is not required, but the fields and elements listed on the form are required. Any electronic format used by lenders m ust contain all m andatory fields indicated on the form.” It should be noted, however, that the lender m ust be able to reproduce the form upon receiving a docum ent request by its Federal supervisory agency. 4. Section 528 of the Act perm its a lender to rely on a previous determ ination using the SFHDF w hen it is increasing, extending, renewing or purchasing a loan secured by a building or a mobile home. The Act omits the “m aking” of a loan as a permissible event to rely on a previous determination. May a lender rely on a previous determ ination for a refinancing or assum ption of a loan? Answer: It depends. If a subsequent loan involving a refinancing or assum ption is made on the same property by the same lender who obtained the original determ ination, and the other requirem ents contained in Section 528 are met, the lender may rely on the previous determination. Section 528 of the Act requires that a lender m ay rely on a previous determ ination only if the original determ ination was recorded on the SFHDF w ithin the previous seven years and there were no map revisions or updates affecting the security property since the original determ ination was made. However, a loan refinancing or assum ption m ade by a lender other than the lender who obtained the original determ ination w ould constitute “m aking” a new loan, thereby requiring a new determination. 5. If a borrower requesting a home equity loan secured by a junior lien provides evidence that flood insurance coverage is in place, does the lender have to make a new determination? Does the lender have to adjust the insurance coverage? Answer: It depends. Assuming the requirem ents in Section 528 are met and the lender m ade the first mortgage, then a new determ ination w ould not be necessary. If, however, a lender other than the one that m ade the first mortgage loan is making the hom e equity loan, a new determ ination w ould be required because this lender w ould be deemed to be “m aking” a new loan. In any event, the institution w ill need to determ ine if the am ount of insurance in force is sufficient to cover either the principal balance of all loans (including the hom e equity loan) or the m axim um am ount of coverage available on the im proved real estate, w hichever is less. • The com m unity in w hich the property is located participates in the NFIP; • Flood insurance coverage is inadequate or does not exist; and • The borrower fails to purchase the appropriate am ount of coverage. In order to force place, a lender m ust notify the borrower of the required am ount of flood insurance that m ust be obtained w ithin 45 days after notification. The notice m ust also state that if the borrower does not obtain the insurance w ithin the 45 day period, the lender will purchase the insurance on behalf of the borrower and may charge the borrower the cost of prem ium s and fees to obtain the coverage. Standard FNMA/FHLMC docum ents perm it the servicer or lender to add those charges to the principal am ount of the loan. FEMA developed the Mortgage Portfolio Protection Program (MPPP) to assist lenders in connection w ith forced placem ent procedures. FEMA published these procedures in the Federal Register on August 29, 1995 (60 FR 44881). A ppendix A of the FEMA publication contains examples of notification letters to be used in connection w ith the MPPP. 2. Can a servicer force place on behalf of a lender? Answer: Yes. Assuming the statutory prerequisites for forced placem ent are met, and subject to the servicing contract betw een the lender and the servicer, the Act clearly authorizes servicers to force place flood insurance on behalf of the lender, following the procedures set forth in the Regulation. 3. W hen forced placem ent occurs, w hat is the am ount of insurance required to be placed? Answer: The am ount of flood insurance coverage required is the same regardless of how the insurance is placed. (See Section II. Requirement to purchase flood insurance where available.) VII. Determination Fees 1. W hen can lenders or servicers charge the borrow er a fee for making a determination? Answer: There are four instances under the Act and Regulation w hen the VI. Forced Placement of Flood borrower can be charged a specific fee Insurance for a flood determination: • W hen the determ ination is made in 1. Is forced placem ent allowed? W hat connection w ith the making, increasing, are the procedures? extending, or renewing of a loan that is Answer: The Act and Regulation initiated by the borrower; require a lender to force place flood • W hen the determ ination is insurance if all of the following prom pted by a revision or updating by circumstances occur: • The lender determines at any time FEMA of floodplain areas or flood-risk during the life of the loan that the zones; • W hen the determ ination is property securing the loan is located in prom pted by FEMA’s publication of a an SFHA; Federal Register / Vol. 62, No. 141 / Wednesday, July 23, 1997 / Notices notice or com pendia that affects the area in w hich the security property is located; or • W hen the determ ination results in forced placem ent of insurance. Loan or other contractual documents betw een the parties may also perm it the im position of fees. 2. May charges m ade for life of loan reviews by flood determ ination firms be passed along to the borrower? Answer: Yes. Many flood determ ination firms provide a service to the lender for conducting a periodic review of the loan during the time it is outstanding to ascertain w hether the original determ ination rem ains valid. This service is sometimes coupled w ith the making of the original determ ination and the fee charged is a composite one for conducting both the original and subsequent reviews. Charging a fee for the original determ ination is clearly w ithin the permissible purpose envisioned by the Act. The agencies agree that a determ ination fee may include, among other things, reasonable fees for a lender, servicer, or third party to monitor the flood hazard status of property securing a loan in order to make determ inations on an ongoing basis. Consequently, the agencies also believe that a fee for a life of loan service may be passed along to the borrower. However, because the life of loan fee is based on the ability to charge a determ ination fee, the monitoring fee m ay be charged only if the events specified in the answer to question VII. 1 occur. VIII.Notice of Special Flood Hazards and Availability of Federal Disaster Relief 1. Does the notice have to be provided to each borrower for a real estate related loan? Answer: The notice m ust be provided to a borrower only w hen the lender determines that the property securing the loan is or w ill be located in an SFHA. In a transaction involving m ultiple borrowers, the agencies believe it is only necessary to provide the notice to any one of the borrowers in the transaction. Lenders may provide m ultiple notices if they choose. The lender and borrower(s) typically designate the borrower to w hom the notice will be provided. 2. Lenders making loans on mobile homes may not always know where the home is to be located until just prior to, or sometimes after, the tim e of loan closing. How is the notice requirem ent applied in these situations? Answer: The notice requirem ent can be met by lenders in m obile home loan transactions if notice is provided to the borrower as soon as practicable after determ ination that the mobile home will be located in an SFHA and, if possible, before completion of the loan transaction. In circumstances where time constraints can be anticipated, regulated lenders should use their best efforts to provide adequate notice of flood hazards to borrowers at the earliest possible time. In the case of loan transactions secured by mobile homes not located on a perm anent foundation, the agencies note that such “home only” transactions are excluded from the definition of mobile home and the notice requirem ents w ould not apply to these transactions. However, as indicated in the preamble to the Regulation, the agencies encourage a lender to advise the borrower that if the mobile home is later located on a perm anent foundation in an SFHA, flood insurance w ill be required. If the lender, w hen notified of the location of the mobile home subsequent to the loan closing, determines that it has been placed on a perm anent foundation and is located in an SFHA in w hich flood insurance is available under the Act, flood insurance coverage becomes m andatory and appropriate notice m ust be given to the borrower under those provisions. If the borrower fails to purchase flood insurance coverage w ithin 45 days after notification, the lender m ust force place the insurance. 3. W hen is the lender required to provide notice to the servicer of a loan that flood insurance is required? Answer: Because the servicer of a loan is often not identified prior to the closing of a loan, the Regulation requires that notice be provided no later than the tim e the lender transm its other loan data, such as information concerning hazard insurance and taxes, to the servicer. 4. W hat w ill constitute appropriate form of notice to the servicer? Answer: Delivery to the servicer of a copy of the notice given to the borrower is appropriate notice. The Regulation also provides that the notice can be m ade either electronically or by a w ritten copy. 5. In the case of a servicer affiliated w ith the lender, is it necessary to provide the notice? Answer: Yes. The Act requires the lender to notify the servicer of special flood hazards and the Regulation reflects this requirement. Neither contains an exception for affiliates. 6. How long does the lender have to m aintain the record of receipt by the borrower of the notice? 39529 Answer: The record of receipt provided by the borrower m ust be m aintained for the time that the lender owns the loan. Lenders may keep the record in the form that best suits the lender’s business practices. Lenders may retain the record electronically, but they m ust be able to retrieve the record w ithin a reasonable time pursuant to a docum ent request from their Federal supervisory agency. IX. Notice of Servicer’s Identity 1. W hen a lender makes a designated loan and it will be servicing that loan, w hat are the requirements for notifying the Director of FEMA or the Director’s designee? Answer: FEMA stated in a June 4, 1996 letter, that the Director’s designee is the insurance company issuing the flood insurance policy. The borrower’s purchase of a policy (or the lender’s forced placem ent of a policy), will constitute notice to FEMA w hen the lender is servicing that loan. In the event the servicing is subsequently transferred to a new servicer, the lender must provide notice to the insurance com pany of the identity of the new servicer. 2. W ould a RESPA Notice of Transfer sent to the Director of FEMA (or the Director’s designee) satisfy the regulatory provisions of the Act? Answer: The delivery of a copy of the Notice of Transfer or any other form of notice is sufficient if the sender includes, on or w ith the notice, the following information that FEMA has indicated is needed by its designee: • Borrower’s Full Name; • Flood Insurance Policy Number; • Property Address (including city and state); • Name of bank or servicer making notification; • Name and address of new servicer; • Name and telephone num ber of contact person at new servicer. 3. Can delivery of the notice be made electronically, including batch transmissions? Answer: Yes. The Regulation specifically permits transm ission by electronic means and a timely batch transm ission of the notice w ould also be permissible, if it is acceptable to the Director’s designee. 4. If the loan and its servicing rights are sold by the lender, is the lender required to provide notice to the Director or the Director’s designee? Answer: Yes. Failure to provide such notice w ould defeat the purpose of the notice requirem ent because FEMA w ould have no record of the identity of either the owner or servicer of the loan. 5. Is the lender required to provide notice w hen a servicer other than the 39530 Federal Register / Vol. 62, No. 141 / Wednesday, July 23, 1997 / Notices lender sells or transfers the servicing rights to another servicer? Answer: No. The obligation of the lender to notify the Director or the Director’s designee of the identity of the servicer transfers to the new servicer. The duty to notify the Director or the Director’s designee of any subsequent sale or transfer of the servicing rights and responsibilities belongs to that servicer. For example, First Financial Institution makes and services the loan. It then sells the loan in the secondary m arket and also sells the servicing rights to First Financial Mortgage Company. First Financial Institution notifies the Director’s designee of the identity of the new servicer and the other information requested by FEMA so that FEMA can track the loan. If First Financial Mortgage Company later sells the servicing rights to another firm, First Financial Mortgage Company is responsible for notifying the Director’s designee of the identity of the new servicer, not First Financial Institution. 6. In the event of a merger of one lending institution w ith another, w hat are the responsibilities of the parties for notifying the Director’s designee? Answer: If an institution is acquired by or merges w ith another institution, the duty to provide notice for the loans being serviced by the acquired institution w ill fall to the successor institution in the event that notification is not provided by the acquired institution prior to the effective date of the acquisition or merger. X. Appendix A to the Regulation— Sample Form of Notice of Special Flood Hazards and Availability of Federal Disaster Relief Assistance 1. Is use of the sample form of notice mandatory? Can it be revised to accommodate a lender’s needs? Answer: A lthough lenders are required to provide a notice to a borrower w ho is purchasing property secured by an im proved structure located in an SFHA, use of the sample form of notice provided in A ppendix A is not mandatory. It should be noted that the sample form includes other inform ation in addition to w hat is required by the Act and the Regulation. Lenders may personalize, change the format of, and add information to the sample form if they choose. However, a lender-revised form m ust provide the borrower w ith at least the m inim um information required by the Regulation. Therefore, lenders should consult the Regulation to determ ine the inform ation needed. Federal Financial Institutions Exam ination Council. D ated a t W ash in g to n, DC th is 1 6th d ay of July 1997. Joe M. Cleaver, Executive Secretary. [FR Doc. 9 7 -1 9 1 3 3 F ile d 7 -2 2 -9 7 ; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6 210 -01 -P , 6 720 -01 -P , 6714 -01 -P , 4810-01-P , 7535-01-P