"BMW and Yugo are the same in that they are both cars, but there is a lot of variation between the two," says Claudia Merkle at National MI, which is trying to differentiate itself from other insurers.

Mortgage Insurers Jockey to Stand Out in Contract Overhaul

New federal requirements for private mortgage insurers aim to standardize coverage across the market. That's left some companies looking for ways to distinguish their products as they vie for lenders' business.

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