, for Genworth Mortgage Insurance. Antonello began his career with GE in 1984, and progressed through various sales and marketing leadership positions. Based in Raleigh, NC, Genworth Mortgage Insurance is a division of Genworth Financial, a leading financial security company meeting the retirement, longevity, lifestyle protection, investment and mortgage insurance needs of more than 15 million customers. To learn more about the safety and security of mortgage insurance, visit www.SmarterMI.com.
Now more than ever, homebuyers appreciate the need to protect their investments and make smart decisions, particularly as they relate to mortgage finance. An alarm system can protect their valuables from theft, a smoke alarm from fire and homeowner?s insurance can reimburse them in the event of damage to their home. But what they often don?t know is that mortgage insurance (MI) can protect them if tough economic times or other personal financial setbacks impact their ability to make their mortgage payments. Today?s MI products come with many added benefits for the buyer at no extra cost. These include homeowner assistance programs, job loss protection and discounts for those who complete homebuyer education programs. When it comes to foreclosure, nobody benefits. It is time consuming and costly for everyone: the borrower, the lender, the investor and the insurer. Its effects are devastating. MI companies like Genworth Financial are working to make a difference. In 2008, Genworth helped almost 12,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure through its Homeowner Assistance program. Nearly 90 percent of these borrowers were able to save their homes through a ?cure? mortgage workout such as a repayment plan or a loan modification. Others in trouble avoided foreclosure by selling their home through other workout options. Genworth reached out to troubled borrowers nationwide, but its foreclosure prevention efforts were highest in Texas, Florida and Georgia. With job loss a major cause of mortgage delinquencies, some MI companies also offer help to borrowers who find themselves laid off. Last year, with job losses widespread across many industries in the U.S., and unemployment numbers today even further on the rise, some unemployed borrowers find peace of mind from a no-additional-cost job loss protection benefit provided in addition to their MI policies. Their mortgage payment is covered for up to six months, allowing them to get back on their feet without falling behind on their mortgage. It?s also a smart loss mitigation move for the industry. MI companies today understand better than ever that an educated consumer is the best customer. Studies show that borrowers who complete a homebuyer education course are more likely to manage their mortgage responsibly leading to greater financial stability. Many MI customers have the opportunity to receive a discount on their monthly MI premium if they successfully complete an eight-hour course prior to buying their home. Essentially, the industry is paying its customers to become more financially aware and responsible ? a win-win for all parties. Borrowers are really starting to recognize the importance of not only protecting their home, but also protecting their finances and their future ? something they can do early on by securing a loan with MI. Mortgage professionals are in the business of putting families into homes, not foreclosing on them, which is why the industry is working with families to resolve their mortgage problems. Borrowers who are behind on their payments should know that their MI company can help them reach out to their lender and mortgage servicer to help save their home. Communication is key to protecting investments. At the same time, explaining to your customers at the beginning of the home buying process that help is available when times are tough can ensure that costly foreclosures are avoided in the future. Chris Antonello is Senior Vice President,