Hi, I’m Tom Casill at MacGregor Abstract. And today I’m here to discuss with you the structure of the title insurance industry as it currently is here in New York state. There are title insurers, large insurance companies that issue policies to their insurers, that protect them against title loss. There are probably 12 or 15 title insurance companies here in New York, licensed to do business in New York.
There are very large title companies like Fidelity, National Title and their family of title companies and First American, another large company. And then there are smaller, some just regional, companies here in New York; as opposed to the title insurance agent community. Sometimes in the industry, they refer to title insurers and title insurance agents with the same label as a title company. There are differences between the title insurer and the agent, though.
At MacGregor Abstract, we are a title agent. We represent four major title insurance companies in New York. The difference is that you’re not going to get a title insurance policy with a title agent’s name on it, except that maybe they issued the policy on behalf of the insurer. The title insurers actually take on the liability under the policy. If you came into a title insurer’s office and you saw them processing the title insurance work, then you walked into my office, they’d look identical. We do the same work.
They also handle claims, which the title agent does not. That’s the main difference between the two of them. Title insurance agents, the same way as title insurance companies, there are some very large agents and there are some very small agents. But production wise, they kind of look the same.
Title insurers, from one perspective, they fall into two different categories. Most title insurers, I shouldn’t say most, but some title insurers also have direct operations where they are going out, knocking on client’s, doors on potential client’s, doors, trying to drum up business, bringing applications in so they can insure them. Fidelity National Title and their group of insurers does that. First American does that. Stuart Title Insurance does that. A lot of them do that. And then there are other title insurers that are what we refer to as agent only or agency only presence here in New York. Some fairly large companies are like that. For example, Old Republic, is a very large company in New York. Well, I take that back; they do have one small office up in Albany that handles some of their national work. But they do not have salespeople on the ground here, knocking on the same doors that my salespeople knock on.
Title insurance agents are authorized to do all the research, to issue the policies, to collect the premiums for these policies, and then we remit these premiums in direct accordance to agreements that we have to the title insurers. So generally, there are two very, very different groups because of the particulars that I’m just pointing out. But the industry often refers to all of us as title insurance companies. And to that end, they are not inaccurate, but just explanations as to what the differences are.
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