Bulletin: MU2020001

Date:
March 17, 2020
To:
All Maine and New Hampshire Issuing
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Special Bulletin Regarding Possible Registry Closures Due To COVID-19 and Insuring Transactions (Maine and New Hampshire)

Dear Associates:

As the States of New Hampshire and Maine seek to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus many government offices are limiting physical access to the public. Although no Registry has closed at this time and all are currently accepting records for recording and registration, this situation may change. Stewart Title Guaranty Company (“Stewart”) is committed to our partners and providing solutions to allow agents to continue closing and insuring transactions. Given the uncertainty of how COVID-19 may impact the recording and indexing of documents, until further notice, if a registry of deeds is closed as a result of the COVID-19 virus, Stewart will insure transactions prior to the recording of vesting documents and provide coverage during the gap between closing and recording under the conditions outlined below.

For transactions which fall outside of one or more of the conditions listed below or for which a title search complying with Stewart’s underwriting parameters cannot be met, please contact michelle.radiecoffin@stewart.com for approval prior to issuing policies.

An owner’s and/or loan policy of title insurance may be issued prior to the recording of documents vesting title in the proposed insured without further underwriting approval if all of the following conditions are met:

1. The registry of deeds in the county where the land is located is not recording or indexing documents.

2. The title search, including the title run down of the available records, does not disclose any liens or adverse matters other than institutional mortgages being satisfied at closing based upon a current payoff statement which is good through the date of closing.

3. The policy amount does not exceed $3,000,000.00.

4. Proper execution of a Title Affidavit, sometimes referred to as Owner’s/Borrower’s Affidavit or Mechanic Lien/Parties in Possession Affidavit, containing the following gap indemnity language:

“That in consideration of Stewart Title Guaranty Company’s (the “Company”) issuance of its policy or policies effective as of the date closing occurs without taking exception therein for matters which may arise between the date of [INSERT DATE OF REGISTRY CLOSURE] and the date the documents creating the interest being insured have been filed for record, and which matters may constitute an encumbrance on or affect said title, the undersigned agrees to promptly defend, remove, bond or otherwise dispose of any encumbrance, lien, or objectionable matter of title which may arise or be filed, as the case may be, against the captioned premises during the period of time between the date of its commitment to issue its policy of title insurance and the date of recording of all closing instruments, and to hold harmless and indemnify the Company and its agent against all expenses, costs and attorney’s fees, which may arise out of the failure to so remove, bond or otherwise dispose of any said liens, encumbrances or objectionable matters. Further, the undersigned shall be liable for all expenses, costs and attorney fees which may be incurred in the enforcement of this agreement.”

A Gap Indemnity with the added language is accessible by clicking this link.

5. The Date of the Policy issued pursuant to this Bulletin shall be the date and time of the disbursement of funds.

6. Upon re-opening of a closed registry of deeds, an agent who issues a policy of title insurance pursuant to this Bulletin, shall promptly record all vesting documents and documents set forth in Schedule B, Section 1 (Requirements) of the applicable Commitment and run down title. In the event an adverse matter is discovered in the run-down, the agent shall immediately notify Stewart at michelle.radiecoffin@stewart.com.

7. Commitments issued after the date of this Bulletin shall contain the following modified standard requirement in Section B, Schedule 1 relative of the Title Insurance Affidavit:

“Receipt of a properly executed Title Insurance Affidavit on this Company’s form which contains the following paragraph:

That in consideration of Stewart Title Guaranty Company’s (the “Company”) issuance of its policy or policies effective as of the date closing occurs without taking exception therein for matters which may arise between the date of [INSERT DATE OF REGISTRY CLOSURE] and the date the documents creating the interest being insured have been filed for record, and which matters may constitute an encumbrance on or affect said title, the undersigned agrees to promptly defend, remove, bond or otherwise dispose of any encumbrance, lien, or objectionable matter of title which may arise or be filed, as the case may be, against the captioned premises during the period of time between the date of its commitment to issue its policy of title insurance and the date of recording of all closing instruments, and to hold harmless and indemnify the Company and its agent against all expenses, costs and attorney fees, which may arise out of the failure to so remove, bond or otherwise dispose of any said liens, encumbrances or objectionable matters. Further, the undersigned shall be liable for all expenses, costs and attorney’s fees which may be incurred in the enforcement of this agreement.”

Please note that there may be special circumstances which make a so-called “gap recording” particularly risky, such as a property which is in active foreclosure or has significant liens recorded against it. If you encounter such a situation or feel that there is a heightened risk, please contact one of our underwriters for guidance.

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

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.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
SLS2020002 UNDERWRITING - Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) Update
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None