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Genworth changes mortgage insurance to support HARP 2.0

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Genworth Financial Inc. (GNW) is implementing changes within its mortgage insurance segment to make it easier for lenders to participate in the expanded Home Affordable Refinance Program. The federal program launched in 2009 to help borrowers with certain loan-to-value ratios refinance into mortgages with lower interest rates. In October, the Federal Housing Finance Agency removed several barriers to refinancing to accommodate more underwater borrowers. Genworth said the changes will make it easier for lenders to partake in the initiative. One of the incentives of HARP 2.0 is to waive reps and warranties on mortgages to mitigate the risk of lenders having to repurchase certain loans. Genworth said it will make a description of the changes available within its mortgage insurance underwriting guidelines by Dec. 1. United Guaranty, the mortgage insurance subsidiary of AIG, noted earlier this month that while it supports HARP 2.0, it will not be offering such broad immunity on reps and warranties. "The mortgage insurance companies waving their reps and warranties are worried about upsetting their lender relationships," said Mark Herr, a spokesman for AIG. "We're worried about assuming someone else's fraud or negligence." "The real issue here is that some of the lenders with fraudulent or poorly documented or undocumented mortgages want to use the HARP program to relieve themselves of the risk tied to their bad lending decisions," Herr said. "They want us to surrender our legal protections against fraud." Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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