Frequently Asked Questions
Title insurance is important because it helps to protect what is one of our most important investments – our home. Title insurance is a product that we as home buyers and borrowers purchase to ensure that we are getting a property free of certain potential future risks. Such risks include lack of legal access to one’s property, rights to amenities like waste treatment and water, as well as being clear on something as seemingly simple as property boundaries. A title insurance policy is intended to clearly outline everything of record that effects our homes and property up to the date of closing.
Title insurance is a contract of indemnity that assures the purchaser of a piece of land that they will actually own the property for which they bargained. It is a unique insurance policy that protects against hidden title hazards that may threaten your financial investment.
The two most common types of Title Insurance are the Owner’s Policy and the Mortgage Policy. An owner’s policy protects the buyer of a piece of real property and the mortgage policy protects the lender. Other types of title insurance policies cover other special circumstances.
Title Insurance is not required by law, however, the seller of a piece of property to give assurance to the buyer that the property is marketable usually purchases it. A mortgage policy is normally required by the lender to protect their loan and is purchased by the buyer/borrower.
The premiums for title insurance are determined by the amount and types of coverage provided and are figured on the purchase price or the loan amount, depending on whether it is an owner’s policy or a mortgage policy. An owner’s policy lasts as long as you or your heirs retain an interest in the property. A mortgage policy lasts until the covered loan (mortgage) is paid in full.
An important part of title insurance is its emphasis on risk elimination before insuring. Title insuring begins with a search of public land records affecting the real estate concerned. The title agent on behalf of its underwriter to determine whether the property is insurable conducts an examination. The examination of evidence from a search is intended to fully report all “material objections” to the title. Frequently, documents that can present concerns:
- Deeds, wills and trusts that contain improper wording or incorrect names
- Outstanding mortgages and judgments, or lien against the property because the seller has not paid their taxes
- Easements that allow construction of a road or utility line
- Pending legal action against the property that could affect a purchaser
- Incorrect Notary Acknowledgments
Despite all of the expertise that goes into a title search and examination, hidden hazards can emerge after closing, resulting in unpleasant and costly surprises. Some examples of hazards are:
- Forged signatures on a deed, which would mean no transfer of ownership to you
- Unknown heirs of a previous owner who are claiming ownership of the property
- Instruments executed under an expired or fabricated power of attorney
- Mistakes in public records
Title insurance offers financial protection against these and other covered title hazards. The title insurer will pay for defending against an attack on title as insured and will either perfect the title or pay valid claims.