You have a commitment from your Lender; certainly you should be able to close in one week, Right? Wrong. When closing a loan, there are many areas that can derail you from a timely closing. One area of particular concern and which often delays closing, is with respect to the Lender’s insurance requirements. To reduce discrepancies or issues leading up to closing, and to ensure that closing occurs as expeditiously as possible, it is important to understand the Lender’s insurance expectations and requirements at the outset; specifically, as set forth in the Lender’s commitment letter.
For commercial mortgage transactions, Lenders typically require a) property insurance on a “special form of loss” policy, previously referred to as an “all risk” policy, and b) commercial general liability insurance. For the property insurance, the lender will require the property to be insured at least in the amount of the loan and it will require a standard mortgage clause that names it as the mortgagee. Prudent lenders also typically require that the policy must be endorsed as “lender’s loss payable,” which gives the lender the right to receive the loss payment on a claim even if the insured has failed to comply with certain terms of the policy or because the loss was occasioned by the insured’s wrongful acts. The liability insurance policy should name the Lender as an additional insured and should waive all rights of subrogation against the mortgage lender. Often times, an insurance broker will claim that the lender has no insurable interest, and therefore cannot be added as an additional insured on the commercial general liability policy. The lender is concerned that if its borrower suffers an uninsured loss that is beyond its ability to absorb, the borrower’s continued viability is at stake. Furthermore, even though the likelihood of a claim against a mortgagee for injuries incurred at the mortgaged property is small, the lender wants to reduce its chance that its own insurance will be required to pay a claim that would be covered by the borrower’s required insurance. As an additional insured, the lender is entitled to the benefits of the policy but is not charged with the obligations of the named insured, moreover, the insurer cannot exercise subrogation rights against its own insured.
To prove you have the correct insurance in place, the Lender typically requires specific types of insurance proofs to be produced and approved prior to closing. In the past, certificates of insurance were provided to Lenders in the form of an ACORD 27 (for residential property) or ACORD 28 (for commercial property) as evidence of property insurance, and an ACORD 25, as evidence of commercial general liability insurance. In 2006, the ACORDs were revised to indicate that they do not grant any rights in coverage to the policy holder or to the mortgagee, additional insured, certificate holder, lender, etc. Essentially, these certificates are often prepared by insurance brokers as a summary of what coverage is purported to exist, but they do not prove that there is coverage under a particular policy and they do not grant coverage. This essentially makes these certificates or evidences of insurance ineffective in the risk management arena. They are merely for informational purposes only and their validity and accuracy cannot be verified without the underlying policy documents. As a result, many lenders now require, in addition to the ACORD forms, that as part of the normal due diligence process, a copy of the policy be produced and reviewed by the lender and the lender’s insurance advisor. In order to avoid delays, the ACORD forms and policy documents should be provided to the lender well in advance of closing so that the lender has sufficient time to process and review the insurance.