July 3, 2023


Title insurance is a type of insurance that protects property owners from losses related to defects in the title. When you purchase a property, you will most likely be required to purchase title insurance. This insurance policy is designed to ensure that you have legal ownership of the property and that there are no issues with the title that could jeopardize your ownership rights.

However, understanding your title insurer’s obligations to you can be complicated, and it’s important to know what you’re entitled to under your policy. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at your title insurer’s obligations to you and what you should expect from your policy.

Introduction to Title Insurance

What Is Title Insurance

When someone purchases a property, they expect to receive full ownership with the ability to sell or mortgage it at their discretion. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as hidden problems can arise with the property’s title. This is where title insurance comes into play. Title insurance is a type of indemnity insurance that safeguards property owners and lenders from any financial losses due to disputes over the property’s title.

It covers defects in the title such as liens, encumbrances, and other claims that can result in the loss of the property’s ownership. Title insurance provides assurance to owners and lenders that the property’s title is free from defects and allows them to proceed with any real estate transactions with peace of mind.

Through its underwriting process, the title insurer searches public records and other relevant sources to identify any issues that could impact the title’s validity. Once identified, the title insurer works to clear and resolve such issues promptly, protecting the buyer’s investment. For example, if the property’s previous owner had unpaid property taxes, the title insurer would work to pay the outstanding tax and clear any liens against the property before the transaction closes.

It’s important to note that title insurance is different from other types of insurance policies designed to cover losses from future events. Title insurance protects against past events that could impact or hinder a property owner’s rights or ownership to the property.

Overall, title insurance helps property buyers protect their investment. By serving as a safety net against hidden defects in the property’s title, it can save property owners and lenders from the potential financial ruin caused by issues that arise after the property’s purchase.

Why Is Title Insurance Important?

The purchase of a new home is one of life’s most significant financial transactions. There are numerous things to think about, including the legalities of the purchase. Title insurance is an essential aspect of purchasing a home that ensures a smooth transaction. Title insurance is a policy that protects the owner’s rights to the property from unknown claims against it.

The policy covers the legal fees and expenses related to defending ownership of the property. Title insurance is important because it provides peace of mind to homeowners that their investment is protected. With title insurance in place, the homeowner is secure from any legal claims that may arise in the future. Title insurance protects new homeowners from any hidden title problems like outstanding liens, unpaid taxes, or undisclosed heirs to the property. The investment in title insurance is minimal to protect your new home purchase.

What Are the Obligations of a Title Insurer?

As a title insurer, there are several obligations that must be met when providing title insurance to a policyholder. These obligations include conducting a thorough search and examination of public records to identify any potential issues with the title, such as liens, encumbrances, or claims. The insurer must also provide the policyholder with a detailed report of their findings and issue a title insurance policy that covers the policyholder in the event of any future claims or disputes regarding the title.

Another important obligation of the title insurer is to defend the policyholder in the event that a claim or dispute arises regarding the title. This includes covering legal fees and expenses related to defending the title, as well as any damages or losses sustained by the policyholder as a result of the dispute. The insurer must also act in good faith in handling any claims and must make prompt and fair payments to the policyholder in the event of a covered loss or damage.

In addition to these obligations, title insurers are typically subject to a code of ethics that governs their conduct and requires them to act in the best interests of their policyholders. This includes providing clear and accurate information about their policies, disclosing any potential issues or limitations with the coverage, and ensuring that their policies are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Overall, title insurers play a critical role in protecting property buyers and sellers from potential claims or disputes related to the title. By meeting their obligations to conduct thorough searches and examinations and providing comprehensive coverage and defense, title insurers help ensure that real estate transactions proceed smoothly and without unnecessary complications or risks.

Title Insurer’s Obligations

Search and Examination of Title

One of the most critical aspects of a title insurance policy is the search and examination of title. This process ensures that the title to the property is valid and free of any liens, encumbrances or defects that could affect the ownership or use of the property. Before issuing a policy, the title insurer conducts a thorough search of public records to determine the history of the property’s ownership and any recorded liens or claims against it.

The search and examination may also include an inspection of the physical property to uncover any potential issues that may impact the title. This comprehensive research gives the insurer a complete understanding of the property’s title history, allowing them to determine if there are any risks or defects that could result in a claim against the policy.

As such, the title insurer’s obligation to the insured is to ensure that the policy is based on a valid and clear title, providing peace of mind to the buyer and a safeguard against any future title-related issues that may arise.

Issuance of Title Insurance Policy

In the process of obtaining title insurance, the issuance of the title insurance policy is a crucial step. This policy serves as a contract between the insured and the title insurer, outlining the terms of coverage and the specific obligations of the insurer. The policy also serves as evidence of the insurer’s obligation to defend the insured in the event that a covered claim is made against the insured’s title.

The title insurance policy must be issued after a thorough search and examination of the property’s title has been completed. This search and examination ensure that the title is free from defects and provides the insurer with the information they need to accurately assess the potential risks associated with insuring the title. The title insurer’s obligations under the title insurance policy are twofold. First, the insurer is obligated to defend the insured against any covered claims made against the title.

This means that the insurer is responsible for covering the costs associated with defending the insured, including legal fees and other related expenses. Second, the insurer is also obligated to indemnify the insured against any covered claims made against the title. Indemnification means that the insurer is responsible for covering any losses incurred by the insured as a result of a covered claim.

The title insurer’s obligation to defend the insured is an essential component of the title insurance policy. This obligation ensures that the insured is protected from any claims made against their title, regardless of whether the claims are valid or not. This protection is critical, as defending a claim against a title can be expensive and time-consuming, often requiring significant legal resources.

By providing this protection, the title insurer frees the insured from the burden of defending their title, allowing them to focus on other important matters related to their property. The title insurer’s obligation to indemnify the insured is also a crucial aspect of the title insurance policy. This obligation ensures that the insured is protected from any losses suffered as a result of a covered claim.

This protection is especially important for property owners who may face significant financial losses if a claim is made against their title. By providing this protection, the title insurer gives property owners greater peace of mind, allowing them to rest assured that they are protected from the financial impact of any covered claims that may arise.

Defense of Title

Defense of title is a crucial component of title insurance that protects the policyholder against any legal challenges presented up to the time the title was examined. Title insurers are obligated to provide a defense to their insureds against all known and unknown claims, liens, and encumbrances that affect a title.

These claims can arise from public records, such as judgments, liens, or encumbrances, or from private sources such as a forged transfer deed or deed executed under an expired power of attorney. Title insurers must take reasonable steps to resolve disputes that arise during the title examination process to ensure that the policyholder receives a clear title. To provide the fullest protection, title insurers must not only defend on behalf of the policyholder but must also pursue any legal remedies available to clear the title, including litigation if necessary.

The defense of title can also involve negotiating a settlement or clearing any title defect that hinders a policyholder’s use of the property. It is vital to understand that defense of title is a complex and technical legal issue, and policyholders or buyers who rely on title insurance must hire a competent lawyer experienced with title matters to protect their interests.


Indemnification is an essential provision that protects the policyholder in case of title defects. The policyholder can rely on the insurer’s indemnification obligation to cover losses and damages that arise from the defects covered under the policy. The scope of indemnification is delineated in the policy, and it usually covers losses arising from both covered risks and the title insurer’s errors or omissions in the search and examination process, regardless of fault.

Thus, the insurer must indemnify the policyholder for any loss arising from covered title risks and losses that result from the insurer’s failure to discover or disclose title defects that a reasonable search would have uncovered. However, there are limitations to indemnification. First, the insurer is only responsible for losses arising after the effective date of the policy.

Thus, any defects that existed before this date will not be covered, unless the policy expressly provides for such coverage. Second, the insurer’s obligation to indemnify is limited to the policy’s face amount, which is the maximum that the insurer will pay for indemnity claims. The policyholder must bear any loss exceeding this amount. Third, the insurer may require the policyholder to cooperate in the defense or settlement of any claims.

This may include providing the insurer with information, attending court hearings, or testifying as a witness. The indemnification provision also sets forth the insurer’s rights and remedies in case of a loss. For example, the insurer may have the right to cure the title defect or to pay the policyholder the loss amount. The insurer may also have the right to take legal action against any third party responsible for the loss, such as a prior owner or the agent who conducted the search. These rights ensure that the insurer can minimize its losses and recover its expenses.

In conclusion, indemnification is a vital aspect of title insurance that protects the policyholder from losses arising from covered title risks and the insurer’s errors or omissions. It is important to understand the scope and limitations of indemnification to ensure that you have adequate protection in case of a title defect.

Common Issues with Title Insurance

Exclusions and Exceptions

Exclusions and exceptions are a crucial aspect of understanding your title insurer’s obligations to you. A title insurance policy is designed to protect you from losses that arise due to defects in your property’s title. However, the policy has certain exclusions and exceptions that may limit your coverage. Exclusions refer to situations that the policy specifically does not cover, and exceptions refer to issues that may affect your property’s title but are not covered by the policy.

Some common exclusions in title insurance policies include issues such as zoning ordinances, environmental hazards, and defects that were known to the buyer at the time of purchase. Other exclusions may include defects that arise after the policy’s effective date, defects that are not recorded in public records, or issues related to property usage. Exclusions can vary by policy and by state, so it is important to review your specific policy to understand the limitations of your coverage.

Exceptions are often more specific than exclusions and may be listed in the policy’s schedule B section. These can include issues such as unpaid taxes or liens, boundary disputes, encroachments, or easements. If any of these issues arise, you may need to take additional steps to address them or obtain additional coverage to protect yourself from potential losses. It is essential to review these exceptions carefully and work with your title insurer to address any issues before closing on your property.

In summary, understanding the exclusions and exceptions in your title insurance policy is critical to ensure you are fully protected in the event of a title defect. You should review your policy carefully and work with your title insurer to address any issues before closing on your property. While exclusions and exceptions may limit your coverage, a comprehensive title insurance policy can provide valuable protection and peace of mind for homeowners for years to come.

Policy Limits

Policy limits are the maximum amount that an insurer is obligated to pay out in the event of a covered loss. It is important to understand what your policy limits are to ensure that you are adequately insured. In general, the limits of your policy will be determined by the value of the property being insured, as well as any additional coverage that you may have selected.

It is important to note that your policy may have separate limits for different types of losses, such as liability claims or losses caused by natural disasters. It is also important to be aware that there may be exclusions or exceptions that limit the amount of coverage that is available. For example, if your property is damaged due to a flood, but your policy excludes flood damage, you would not be able to make a claim for the resulting losses.

It is important to review your policy carefully to understand your policy limits and any exclusions or exceptions that may apply. If you have questions about your policy or are unsure about how your policy works, it is important to contact your title insurer for clarification. Your insurer can explain your coverage in detail and provide you with any additional information that you may need in order to make an informed decision about your insurance coverage.

In the event of a loss, it is important to be aware of your policy limits in order to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible. If your losses exceed your policy limits, you may be responsible for paying the difference out of pocket. It is also important to note that insurance companies may not automatically pay out the full amount of the policy limits. Insurers are obligated to act in good faith and to attempt to resolve claims fairly and promptly, but disputes over the amount of coverage owed can arise.

In these cases, it may be necessary to seek legal assistance in order to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation you are owed. Understanding your policy limits and any exclusions or exceptions is an important part of being a responsible homeowner. By taking the time to review your policy and contacting your insurer for clarification when necessary, you can ensure that you are adequately insured and prepared in the event of a loss.

Claim Denials

When it comes to title insurance, claim denials are a serious concern for any homeowner. Despite the assurance provided by a title insurance policy, there are certain circumstances that may lead your title insurer to deny your claim. Generally speaking, claim denials are issued when a property’s title is found to have issues that fall outside the scope of the policy’s coverage.

Common exclusions may include issues with zoning regulations, environmental hazards, or defects that were known to the policyholder prior to purchase. It is important to understand that these exclusions will often be explicitly stated within the policy document itself. When filing a claim, it is crucial to work closely with your title insurer and provide any and all relevant documentation to support your claim. In the event that your claim is denied, you may have the option to appeal the decision or seek resolution through a legal dispute.

It is important to note, however, that the burden of proof will likely be on the policyholder, which can make it difficult to successfully win a claim denial case. To avoid claim denials altogether, it is recommended that homebuyers conduct a thorough title search before purchasing a property, as this can help identify any potential issues with the title that may not be covered by a title insurance policy.

Resolving Disputes

Resolving disputes that arise from title insurance can be a complicated and time-consuming process. It is important to understand the steps involved in resolving such disputes to ensure that you are able to receive the coverage that you paid for. The first step is to review the policy to understand the specific terms and conditions that apply to your situation.

If there is a dispute, it is important to inform the title insurer promptly to begin the dispute resolution process. The title insurer will investigate the claim and will likely ask for additional documentation from you or other parties involved in the transaction. If the insurer finds that your claim is not covered by the policy, it will issue a denial letter explaining the reason for the denial.

If you disagree with the denial, you should review the policy to ensure that the insurer did not make a mistake in interpreting the policy language. If you believe that the insurer made an error, you should contact the company to discuss the matter further. In some cases, the insurer may be willing to reconsider its decision or to offer a compromise.

If you are unable to resolve the dispute with the insurer, you may need to escalate the matter to a third-party mediator or arbitrator. Some policies may require you to follow a specific dispute resolution process, such as submitting to binding arbitration rather than litigation. You should review your policy to understand the specific requirements in your situation.

If you are still unable to resolve the dispute, you may need to seek legal counsel. An attorney can help you understand your rights under the policy and can represent you in negotiations or in court. Keep in mind that legal action can be expensive and time-consuming, so it should only be pursued as a last resort.

In conclusion, resolving disputes related to title insurance requires a thorough understanding of the policy, prompt communication with the insurer, and careful consideration of the options available for dispute resolution. By following these steps, you can increase the likelihood of a successful resolution to your claim.


Importance of Understanding Your Title Insurer’s Obligations

Understanding your title insurer’s obligations is essential for homeowners who may face a dispute and want to file a claim with their title insurer. Title insurance protects the homeowner from financial loss as a result of defects in the title of the property being purchased. However, it is crucial to understand the obligations of your title insurer to ensure that you are adequately protected in the case of a dispute.

Knowing your title insurer’s obligations can help you gauge the level of financial risk involved as well as the type of coverage provided. Failure to understand your title insurer’s obligations could result in financial losses, which may be difficult to recover. Therefore, it is essential to know the obligations of your title insurer and to what extent they will provide coverage so that you can make informed decisions and protect your property investment.

Steps to Take if You Have a Title Insurance Issue

Understanding your title insurer’s obligations is crucial to protect your real estate investment. However, even with the best title insurance policy, issues may arise. In such cases, it is important to know what steps to take. The first step is to understand your policy. Read your policy carefully to comprehend its scope, exclusions, and limitations. Your policy will detail the coverage amount and the type of loss it covers.

The second step is to notify your title insurer as soon as possible. Provide complete information about the issue, including what triggered the issue and how it may affect your property. Your title insurer will request relevant documents, so ensure you have them ready. The third step is to cooperate with the insurer’s investigation. Provide necessary information and follow the insurer’s instruction. The fourth step is to prepare for negotiation.

Though the title insurer is obligated to defend you, it may try to reduce the payout. Hence, it is essential to partner with a real estate attorney who understands your interests. The attorney can give legal advice, negotiate with the title insurer, and represent you in court if necessary. Furthermore, keep a record of all communication with the title insurer, including emails, recorded calls, and letters. This documentation may come in handy in the event of a legal dispute.

If the title insurer’s response is unsatisfactory, you have the right to raise a complaint. Several state government departments and committees handle title insurance complaints. File a complaint with the relevant department, and they will investigate your issue independently. If the complaint witnesses in your favor, the department may impose penalties and fines on the title insurer. Additionally, if your title insurer is affiliated with the American Land Title Association, you can file a complaint with them as well.

In conclusion, understanding your title insurer’s obligations and taking the necessary steps when an issue arises will help safeguard your investment. Consult a real estate attorney to ensure proper representation in negotiating with the title insurer. Keep a record of all communication and file a complaint with the relevant authorities if necessary. Remember, a proactive approach is essential to mitigate potential damages and ensure quick resolution.

Title Insurer’s Obligations FAQs

What is title insurance?

Title insurance is a type of insurance policy that protects homeowners and lenders from any financial loss that may arise due to defects in the title of a property. These defects can include fraudulent claims, liens, unpaid taxes, forged signatures and other similar issues.

What are the obligations of a title insurer to their clients?

A title insurer has a contractual obligation to their clients to provide them with protection against any financial loss arising from title defects or errors. This obligation includes saving the clients from any litigation or legal costs that may arise as a result of these defects, as well as paying or settling any claims made against them.

How can title defects be identified?

Title defects can be identified through a title search conducted by a title insurance company. This search will identify any issues such as liens, unpaid taxes, and judgements that may affect the title of the property. The title insurer will then work with the homeowner to resolve these issues before the property is sold or financed.

How does title insurance benefit me?

Title insurance provides peace of mind to homeowners and lenders. It protects them from financial loss that they may incur due to any issues with the title of the property. It also ensures that any disputes or claims made against them are dealt with effectively and efficiently, without causing undue stress or financial strain.

What should I expect from my title insurance company?

You should expect your title insurance company to be reliable, honest, and transparent. They should provide you with all the relevant information about the property you are buying or financing, including any issues or defects with the title. They should also offer prompt and efficient service in the event of any claims or disputes.

About the Author

As a native Washingtonian, Carlos Reyes’ journey in the real estate industry began more than 15 years ago when he started an online real estate company. Since then, he’s helped more than 700 individuals and families as a real estate broker achieve their real estate goals across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Carlos now helps real estate agents grow their business by teaching business fundamentals, execution, and leadership.

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