Insurance is a common part of life, often covering everything from healthcare to vehicles and more. However, not as many people think about title insurance and its role in home ownership, especially during the hustle and bustle of closing on a home. Title insurance protects your investment by offering a safeguard against issues that could jeopardize your ownership of the home, by events such as undisclosed liens or formerly unknown heirs with a claim to the property.
In order to make sure that you are buying a worthy title insurance policy, you will need to look not only at the policy itself but also at the insurance agency. If you don’t know what to look for in a title insurance agency, continue reading for some tips to help you with your choice.
Do You Have an Owner’s Policy?
You may be hesitant to research title insurance companies because there is already a title insurance policy included as part of your closing costs. Be careful! There is a difference between an owner’s insurance policy and a lender’s policy. Whether you are looking for insurance for new home construction, an existing home or an empty plot, you will likely be required to purchase title insurance on behalf of your lender, and this is the policy that you see automatically during closing.
You must buy your own, separate owner’s title insurance if you want to be covered; the lender’s policy will not protect you if something should go wrong. Carefully research title insurance companies when choosing your insurer; you do not have to go with the same company your lender may have required. Consider the following points when making your choice:
Competence and Knowledge
Everyone wants to work with an agency that knows how to effectively get the job done, and there are signs you can look for that point toward competence and knowledge in the field of title insurance.
Both closing agents and title examiners usually work for a title office, and this team should be able to demonstrate a commitment to refining their knowledge, including pursuing continuing education in the field. If an office is only staffed with new employees, this may be a sign that there is not sufficient knowledge about nuanced and fringe cases to help you if you need it.
Accessibility and Adaptability
Title problems can happen anytime, and if your agency closes at 4pm on weekdays and is otherwise unreachable, you may experience a severe delay in the start of filing a claim. The best title insurers are adaptable and accessible, able to help you on a quick turnaround. They may not be open 24/7, but may include a hotline or other interactive service to call which can make a significant difference in your crisis.
Equipped with a Legal Team
Many title issues become legal challenges. Reputable title insurance agencies will keep in-house legal staff including attorneys, who work seamlessly with the insurance agents when a problem arises. This can not only keep you in the loop about what’s happening but also serves to improve teamwork and achieve better results faster, since these individuals are accustomed to working together.
Price is certainly a factor for any title insurance policy, but it is one of the least important. An expensive policy may not correlate to high quality, just as an inexpensive one may not be associated with poor service. That being said, consider why a less expensive policy is priced the way it is, and be cognizant of what you are agreeing to, and what is not included (e.g., robust customer service, speedy claims processing and other exclusions).
Professional Memberships and Compliance
Nuances within the realm of title insurance and claims are constantly shifting. A skilled agency will pursue continuing education for its adjusters and participate in relevant organizations that keep them on top of new and evolving knowledge. Look, for example, for participation in the American Land Title Association (ALTA), as well as any state-relevant entities.
The commitment to quality is often reflected in how a title insurance agency engages with these “optional” opportunities, and seeing their participation is often a good sign.
Trust the Pros to Help You Protect Your New Purchase
Title insurance is yet another item that must be considered during the already hectic process of closing, but it does not need to be complicated. Doing some research to choose a reputable insurance agency can help you to protect your purchase. The professionals at Mathis Title Company would be happy to answer any questions that you may have. Contact Mathis Title Company to learn more or to schedule an appointment to get started.