Bulletin: MU000036

Date:
May 24, 2000
To:
All Issuing Offices in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey (Gold Policy), North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
RE:
Questions Concerning the HOMEOWNER'S POLICY OF TITLE INSURANCE (To Be Issued On Single Family Residential and Condominiums Only On Platted Land)

Dear Associates:

We have received a number of questions concerning the Homeowner's Policy of Title Insurance, which was adopted by the American Land Title Association in 1998 and which is now available in most states, including your state.

Will I be liable if there is a claim because of the additional, new coverages of the Homeowner's Policy?
No, the title insurance agent is not liable for claims that result from the new coverages of the Homeowner's Policy, so long as you comply with the limited requirements discussed in our prior bulletin. (Guideline available through the references section at the end of this bulletin).

Do I have to check for building permits or zoning?
No.

Do I have to require a survey?
No.

Do I have to make an inspection?
No.

If I know of a specific problem, such as a restriction or zoning or building permit violation (for example, I happened to see it in the seller disclosure or the seller disclosed it in the seller's affidavit), how do I make an exception?
Except to the issue (such as zoning or restriction violation or major encroachment known by you) in Schedule B and then add in the same paragraph the following "No insurance is given pursuant to the Covered Risks as to this matter."

What if I actually know about a minor encroachment, and want to insure against enforced removal?
Except to the encroachment and then add in the same paragraph the following: "This exception does not limit the insurance coverage in the Covered Risks against forced removal."

Can I issue the Homeowner's Policy if the seller refuses to sign the affidavit?
Yes. You can issue the Homeowner's Policy without the affidavit in two cases.

(1) You can issue without the seller's affidavit if the seller has not lived there. For example, if the seller is a relocation company and refuses to sign, you can still issue the Homeowner's Policy.
(2) You can issue without the seller's affidavit if your local Stewart Underwriting Personnel agree to waive the affidavit. For example, because of local custom, the seller's affidavit is not secured in California. If reasonably possible, we prefer that you then review any seller's disclosure that is given to the buyer.

I notice that the Stewart Guidelines require that the insured be a "natural person." Can I issue the Homeowner's Policy to a trustee or trust?
Yes.

What if a customer wants to delete the maximum amount or deductible?
Please call our underwriting personnel if you are requested to change the deductible or the Maximum Liability for the four items (relating to zoning, encroachments, building permits, and subdivision map act).

Do these answers apply to the Stewart Gold Policy filed in New Jersey?
Yes.

What if I cannot comply with these guidelines?
If you cannot comply with our underwriting guidelines, please call our underwriting personnel.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the National Legal Department in Houston, Texas at 800-729-1902.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.