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Industry's Exposure To Residential Mortgages Is Small

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Residential real estate mortgages represent only a small piece of life insurers’ investments, and troubled mortgages only a tiny portion of that total, according to data from Highline Data, an affiliate of National Underwriter.

The top 10 life insurers, representing $1.59 trillion in net admitted assets, held total residential mortgages of $2.6 billion in 2006, according to the latest annual statement filings from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners annual statement database via Highline Data. In 2005, the top 10 held $2.3 billion. The total of residential mortgages as a percentage of net admitted assets for the top 10 amounted to .16% in 2006.

The bulk of the top 10′s holdings were mortgages in good standing. In 2006, the top 10 by admitted assets held $2.29 billion in residential insured mortgages and $309.7 million in all other residential mortgages. That compares with 2005′s $1.99 billion in residential insured mortgages in good standing and $302 million in other residential mortgages in good standing.

The top 10 life insurers did not have any residential mortgages in either 2006 or 2005 that were restructured.

Exposure to residential mortgages that were 90 days overdue was relatively minute in both 2006 and in 2005, Highline Data shows. In 2006, residential insured mortgages 90-days overdue but not in foreclosure totaled $49,538, and all other residential mortgages totaled $769,930. In 2005, those respective figures were $4,139 and $1.6 million.

Residential mortgages in the process of foreclosure in 2006 included $45,278 of residential insured mortgages and $10,528 in other residential mortgages. In 2005, the respective totals were $68,028 and $130,810.

UBS analyst Andrew Kligerman and the UBS life insurance team examined life insurers’ exposure to subprime-related credit losses, looking at residential mortgage-backed securities holdings of UBS’ 17 covered companies.

On average, according to the report, “RMBS exposure for our life group coverage only comprises 13% of invested assets, and MBS only 15%. Below investment grade exposure, on average, is 4% of the investment portfolio, indicating that these insurers’ exposure to credit losses appears fairly manageable.”

For those companies in the UBS universe that have higher RMBS exposure, according to the UBS report, “investments are predominantly rated AA-or-higher (est. 90%+) and collateralized by ‘prime’ mortgages.”

Life insurers are more apt to own commercial mortgages, according to data from both Highline and the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington.

The total amount of commercial mortgage commitments for 2006 increased 2.1% compared with 2005, according to the Feb. 6, 2007, ACLI commercial mortgage commitments report prepared by Vagiz Sultanbikov, a research analyst. But in 4th quarter 2006, commercial mortgage lending by the life insurance industry decreased 9.2%, to $10.3 billion, compared with third quarter 2006, the report stated.