Title Matters – Vol. November 2012

As a new service for LAILTA members and subscribers, you can expect an email each month with a short discussion on  matters of interest to the real estate attorney and title agent.  This will be a monthly service, except for the months in which seminars are scheduled.  LAILTA will email you recent cases of interest, notes on legislation and reminders of seldom thought of statutes and rules that affect our day to day work. 

This month’s excerpt is presented by:
Ronny Champlin, LAILTA Board Member
Attorney at Law
5341 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd
Baton Rouge, LA  70816
(225) 295-3600

www.champlintitle.com

Every Title Matters

With all the vetting issues being discussed today, perhaps we need to pass along some things happening within the national organizations.  ALTA recently set forth some “Best Practices” suggestions for us.  I am sure most of us that are concerned about our future as independent title agents, already adhere to “good principles” and have our own “best practice” to insure we maintain the honor,  dignity and respect that we work so hard for.   Here are the “Best Practices” set by ALTA:

The best practices address seven main areas ranging from controls regarding escrow and trust accounts to protecting customers’ personal information and responding to complaints:

  1. Establish and maintain current license(s) as required to conduct the business of title insurance and settlement services. The purpose is to ensure that the company is fully compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.
  2. Adopt and maintain appropriate written procedures and controls for Escrow Trust Accounts allowing for electronic verification of reconciliation. These controls help meet client and legal requirements for safeguarding client funds.
  1. Adopt and maintain a written privacy and information security plan to protect Non-public Personal Information as required by local, state and federal law. Federal and state law requires a written information security plan describing how non-public customer information is protected.
  2. Adopt standard real estate settlement policies and procedures. This can ensure a settlement company can provide a safe and compliant settlement and meet state, federal and contractual obligations governing the settlement process and provide for ongoing employee training.
  3. Adopt and maintain written procedures related to title policy production, delivery, reporting and premium remittance. Appropriate procedures for the production, delivery and remittance of title insurance policies ensures title companies meet their legal and contractual obligations.
  4. Maintain appropriate professional liability insurance and fidelity coverage. Appropriate levels of professional liability ensure that title agencies and settlement companies have the financial capacity to stand behind their professional services.
  5. Adopt and maintain procedures for resolving consumer complaints. A process for receiving and addressing consumer complaints is important to ensure that any instances of poor service or non-compliance do not go undiscovered.

So, ok what’s the big deal.  These are “common sense” practices to those of us who care about maintaining a good reputation in the title community.   It is a sad day in our profession when a national trade organization has to tell us what common sense dictates every day.  Those that have to be told what the “best practice” is should not have been approved by any underwriter and now tarnish our collective image.