If your house goes up in flames,  your obligation to pay your mortgage does not go with it.

Borrowers are bound by the promissory note they sign at the closing of a home purchase or refinance to make monthly mortgage payments. Even the total loss of the mortgaged property doesn’t relieve borrowers of this obligation. A mortgage also requires the borrower to give prompt notice to both the lender and the insurance carrier of a loss.

“Lenders want to help, and they can be very flexible,” says Mike Zarro, executive vice president of mortgage operations at SunTrust Mortgage in Richmond, Va. “They have procedures and programs in place to help clients transition from a disaster back into normalcy.” Lenders may suspend mortgage installments or late payments for a limited period or even stop foreclosure activity altogether, particularly in areas subject to a federal disaster declaration. But, Mr. Zarro adds, “at the end of the day, the obligation to continue paying the mortgage still exists