Whether you have a policy with one of the top title companies or with a smaller, local firm, you still need to keep your title insurance policy on hand in case you need it someday. However, old documents tend to have the habit of going missing. Fortunately, you can still receive a copy of your title insurance policy when needed.
What Is Title Insurance?
According to Forbes, the "title" in "title insurance" refers to the legal right to own and use property, as well as the legal documents that illustrate the property's ownership history, the property's boundary lines and how the property is permitted for use. To keep track of ownership, every transaction and event that can affect ownership is filed in the public archives. This includes records of properties bought and sold, liens and levies. These documents are used to clearly indicate the rightful owner of the property.
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For most property to be sold, they must possess a clean title; the title must be free of issues and clearly illustrate the property's ownership history. This is where title insurance becomes important. With title insurance, the title agent can verify that the seller has proper ownership of the property while also protecting the policyholder in the event their title is disputed once the purchase is finalized.
Title insurance also ensures that all participants in the transaction (including the lenders, real estate agents, sellers and buyers), correctly fill out, sign and file all documents to avoid possible issues in the future. Some states also require title agents to ensure the money in the transaction is appropriately transferred.
The Top Title Companies
Title agents are typically selected by the lenders or real estate agents involved in the transaction. It is essential to choose a trustworthy title agent since they coordinate a major purchase that must be done efficiently without mistakes.
There are hundreds of title companies within the United States serving both locally and nationally. Some of the top title companies include First American Title, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company and the Chicago Title Insurance Company.
Locating a Lost Title Insurance Policy
Begin your search by contacting the title agent who managed the paperwork and transaction. In some cases, the team at Amrock writes, this point of contact could have been with a real estate attorney. Depending on when the transaction took place, the title agent or attorney might still have the document on hand. However, this most likely is not the case for older documents. Once you have established contact with the title agent or real estate attorney, they should be able to direct you toward requesting a policy copy from the title insurer.
If, for whatever reason, the title insurer is unable to locate your policy, use the closing paperwork from the property purchase to verify the policy, such as the HUD-1 Settlement Statement or Closing Disclosure. Some insurers may ask for the title search preliminary report or title insurance commitment document.
If you are unable to locate any closing paperwork to verify your policy, contact your lender. All mortgaged home purchases require a lender's title insurance policy when the loan was issued, which means that they will have closing documents as well as any other helpful documents on file. Once you obtain useful documents from the lender, you may continue with your copy request from the title insurer.