Choose Your Policy
We'll clearly explain what our policies cover and help you choose the best one for you.
Start here to learn about title and title insurance, and then make an informed decision about your policy.
What is Title?
Title is the right to, or ownership of, a specific real estate property. Ownership, and all the rights and duties of each individual that holds the title for a property, is recorded in a legal document that is filed with public records. This document is referred to as the deed.
Before you purchase a property, the title or escrow company does an initial search of its title to determine the history of ownership and ensure it is clear of defects, liens, easements, encroachments, or other restrictions on the property. Click a term below to see examples of each.
A title search looks for:
Current and past owners of the property, including when it was undeveloped land.
Competing claims of ownership, unknown heirs, misrecorded information in public records, forged signatures on title transfers.
Previous mortgages or loans that were never paid off, unpaid real estate taxes, or payments owed for construction or remodeling.
Disputes/resolutions about a property boundary line or unauthorized/authorized items that cross a property boundary (e.g., utility pole, water line, sewer line, fence, or driveway).
What is Title Insurance? Do I Need It?
If any issues were discovered during the title search, a title company works to clear the title of those issues. Once the title is clear, it can be covered by title insurance.
Title insurance protects a homeowner or lender against financial loss from real estate title defects or liens against a property. Any property that has undergone several transfers of ownership — including when it was undeveloped land — could have a hidden title issue that can affect the current homeowner or lender.
If you are purchasing a home with a loan, your lender typically requires you to purchase a title insurance policy to protect their interest in the property. 85% of our customers opt to purchase an owner's policy to protect their own interest as well.
Examples of how title insurance can protect you:
Unreported Home Improvements
A new homebuyer applied for a permit to renovate his property and was denied after an inspector found unauthorized improvements made to the home. The previous owner had fully enclosed the carport — without filing the proper permits — to add more square footage to the home. The new homebuyer was required to remove the enclosure.
The title insurance company got an estimate for remediation costs and, after applying the deductible, compensated the new homebuyer as specified by the policy, which covered a healthy portion of the cost of removal.
Surprise Construction Lien
A new homebuyer purchased a newly constructed home from a local builder. Unknown to the new homebuyer, the builder still owed payments to the framer, electrician, and general labor who helped build it. Months later, the buyer received a notice that a mechanic's lien had been filed against the property. The framer, electrician, and general labor were threatening to go to court to foreclose on the home and reclaim payment owed.
The new homebuyer's enhanced title insurance policy covered mechanics' liens, so the title insurance company hired lawyers to defend the new homebuyer in court.
A new homebuyer woke up one day to find that her house had been sold out from under her nose. Someone had stolen her identity and proceeded to sell the home without her knowledge.
Identity theft is covered under the enhanced owner's policy, so the new homebuyer received help with legal fees to regain ownership of her home in court.
Competing Claims of Ownership
Six months after purchasing a property, a new homebuyer received notice that the previous owners had taken out a second loan against the property while they were finalizing its sale. The other loan was still active, meaning there were two owners named in public records for the same property.
The competing claim of ownership was recorded in county records after closing, but before it was discoverable in public records. This situation was covered by the new homeowners' title insurance policy, and the insurance company paid to release the other loan so the current homeowners could retain ownership.
Which Policy Do I Choose?
The level of coverage you choose depends on how comfortable you would be covering a loss from a title issue.
This type of policy protects the lender, not you. It is typically required by your lender when you purchase a property with a loan, and covers the lender up to the amount of the loan. It only goes into effect if the lender takes possession of the property through foreclosure or some other means.
Basic Owner's Policy
Our basic policy protects you against issues that occurred prior to your purchase date, but have not yet been discovered. For example, it can protect you from previous owners making a claim of ownership on the property, or a special assessment or unpaid property tax that was not found at the time of purchase.
Enhanced Owner's Policy*
Enhanced coverage* is the most comprehensive policy we offer. It includes everything the basic policy covers, and also protects you against situations like prior building permit violations, incorrect surveys, claims against your property that may occur in the future, and more.
*Not available in Florida or Illinois.