Bulletin: WV2020001

Date:
April 10, 2020
To:
All West Virginia Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Temporary RON usage in West Virginia

Dear Associates:

On March 25, 2020, West Virginia Governor James Justice issued Executive Order 11-20 (order attached) which suspended during the State of Emergency the personal appearance requirement for individuals for a notarial act that relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on record pursuant to W. Va. Code 39-4-6. As a result of such order Secretary of State of West Virginia, Andrew Warner, promulgated an Emergency Rule establishing processes for West Virginia notaries to safely notarize documents during the current State of Emergency. The Emergency Rule is modeled after national standards for remote notary processes which has been adopted in West Virginia during this national crisis. The purpose of the remote notary option is to protect the safety of WV notaries and individuals and the validity of notarized documents during the State of Emergency.

The remote notarization process allows a notary to use electronic audio and visual technology to witness an individual’s signature. The individual must then send the signed document, along with a form of approved identification, to the notary before the notarization and placement of the official notary stamp of seal.

The notary is also required to create an audio and visual recording of the performance of the individual signing and must retain a copy of that recording for a set period.

The provisions of the Emergency Rule establishing the remote notarization option is to remain in effect only during a State of Emergency. When the State of Emergency is lifted, remote notarization is no longer authorized, and the in-person requirement is reinstated.

The Emergency Rule of West Virginia promulgated Code of State Rules and guidelines allowing Remote online notarization is:
https://sos.wv.gov/news/Pages/04-01-2020-A.aspx

Click on the link noted as Emergency Amendment to obtain the provisions outlined regarding Online Notarization and scroll to 153-45-27

TECHNOLOGY

Stewart agents may use assistive audio-video technologies to facilitate the Notarial act. The Stewart approved technology platforms and tutorials can be found at:

https://www.stewart.com/content/stewart/stewartcom/en/eclosing/customer-type/title-agency-info.html?refurl=%2Fcontent%2Fstewart%2Fstewartcom%2Fen%2Fcustomer-type%2Ftitle-insurance-underwriting-services%2Feducation-and-training%2Feclosing%2Foverview.html

In the event you do not use an approved Platform, the audio-visual technology must:

  1. Provide for the audio/video preservation of the entire notarial transaction, which should be retained for a period of seven (7) years;
  2. Provide for secure storage and transmission of the non-public personal information; and,
  3. Provide for verification of location of signer

Suggestions for Audio/Video Conferencing Technology:

The Act does not identify specific technology to be used. Care should be taken that any platform chosen adequately provides for the ability to record the live session and that both the Signer and the Notary have devices which support the chosen platform. As a convenience to our agents and to aid your search in locating a service provider, we’ve listed some providers which offer audio/video conferencing and the ability to record such conference.

Zoom: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/203741855-Cloud-recording

Microsoft Teams: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/record-a-meeting-in-teams-34dfbe7f-b07d-4a27-b4c6-de62f1348c24

GoToMeeting: https://www.gotomeeting.com/features/online-meeting-recording

Cisco Webex: https://help.webex.com/en-us/nzpa89j/Manage-Cisco-Webex-Meetings-Recordings

CONDITIONS FOR THE NOTARIAL PROCESS.

  • Notary and signer must have face to face interactive (live) exchange of communication.
  • If the technology does not provide for verification of location, the Notary must verify that the person or persons signing the documents are located within West Virginia.
  • Notary must verify ID via a video comparison of ID to signer’s face.
  • Title company must verify County Clerk will accept the documents notarized in this process.
  • Notary must advise the Secretary of State that you will be performing notarial acts by audio/video technology, and which technology you intend to use.
  • The individual signing the document(s) shall certify under oath that they were physically located in the State of West Virginia at the time the document(s) were signed and state the County/City in which they were physically located in West Virginia when the documents were signed.

ADDITIONAL UNDERWRITING REQUIREMENTS:

  • Parties, including lender, must authorize in writing the use of the video notary process.
  • The approval of the Audio-Visual feature is limited to policy amounts up to $1,000,000. Real estate transactions in excess of $1,000,000 will be considered, however, Issuing Office shall obtain Stewart Underwriter approval.
  • The Notary must sign a certificate of compliance on a form provided by Stewart.

Issuing offices in West Virginia may choose to perform remote online notarization. Subject to the guidelines in Stewart Bulletins SLS2020003 and SLS2020004. Stewart Title Guaranty Company will accept and insure West Virginia  transactions involving remote online notarized documents. A complete list of Stewart-approved remote online notarization vendors is included in Bulletin SLS2020003.

Please note that remote notarization and Remote Online Notarization are different processes with different requirements.

Please note we have a dedicated site on VU for all things COVID-19 related available: 
https://www.vuwriter.com/en/coronavirus-resources.html

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:
None
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None