New York Scrutinizes Title Insurers

December 10, 2013
Wall Street Journal 
mortgage lending news

The New York Department of Financial Services has analyzed information obtained via subpoena from title insurance agents and information requests sent to insurers to determine whether homebuyers have paid for entertainment costs for real estate and mortgage brokers who directed them to a particular insurance firm. The inquiries have revealed expenditures by insurers and the agents for golf outings, sporting events, and other expenses.

Superintendent of Financial Services Ben Lawsky is expected to question insurers and agents at a public hearing on Dec. 10. Many consumers rely on a mortgage broker, real estate agent, or attorney to recommend a title insurer, and they are often unaware of title insurance details. "We're taking a hard look to make sure that the rates are fair and appropriate, and that consumers are getting their money's worth," Lawsky said. Title insurers often pay little in claims costs because problems are caught in advance, and insurers say that much of the premium covers the cost of the upfront title search.

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