Frequently Asked Questions
Title insurance insures against financial loss caused by defects in title to real estate. Title insurance companies defend against lawsuits attacking the title, or in the case of a covered loss, reimburse the insured up to the policy limit.
It protects you against loss due to title defects, liens, or other similar matters. Title insurance protects you from claims of ownership by other parties. It protects you against losses from problems that arose before you bought the property. The title company will defend you in court if there is a claim against your property, and will pay for covered losses.
Texas does not require title insurance. The lender will require you to buy a Loan Policy of Title Insurance to protect their interest.
A loan policy lasts until the loan is paid off. An owner’s policy lasts as long as you or your heirs own the land. It also may provide warrantor’s coverage after you no longer own the property, depending on your policy provisions. Policy language has changed over time, so read the continuation of coverage provisions in your policy carefully to determine coverage terms.
You pay for title insurance only once, when you buy the policy, unless you decide later to add more coverage. Keep your policy, even if you transfer your title or sell the property. Coverage lasts as long as you or your heirs own the land, and may last forever for any title warranties made when you sell the property.
Depending on the type of policy you have, it may not provide coverage when you transfer your title into your business or to someone else that is not considered an insured. To determine what type of coverage you have, read your policy, check with your title agent, or speak with an attorney.
No, title insurance is different from other types of insurance. It does not insure against fire, flood, theft, or any other type of property damage or loss. It protects against losses from ownership problems that arose before you bought the property, but were not known at the time you bought the property. It does not guarantee that you will be able to sell your property, or borrow money on it.
The title commitment comes before closing; the title policy is issued after closing. The commitment says that a title company is willing to issue title insurance under certain conditions and if the seller fixes certain problems. The policy provides coverage for the property.
The title commitment lists any potential issues, exclusions, or exceptions. It alerts the buyer to issues that exist and could cause problems in the future. It does not guarantee that there are no current issues or that none will arise in the future. You should discuss how to clear potential issues with the title agent. You may wish to review potential issues with a lawyer.
Read the title commitment carefully as these items can become exclusions or exceptions under Schedule B of your policy. Exceptions and exclusions are items not covered by the policy.
There are two types of policies, owner’s policies and loan policies.
1. Owner’s Policy
The owner’s policy protects you against losses from ownership problems that arose before you bought the property, but that were not known at the time you bought the property. For example, you could lose title to your property due to fraud, errors or omissions in previous deeds, or forgery of a previous deed. The owner’s policy protects the buyer from the covered risks listed in the policy.
There are separate types of policies for commercial and residential property. The T-1 is commonly used for commercial property and undeveloped land. The T-1R is for most residential property. For a complete list of covered risks in the T-1 policy, see the Covered Risks section of the owner’s policy. For a complete list of covered risks in the T-1R policy, see the Covered Title Risks section of the residential owner’s policy.
2. Loan Policy
The loan policy is issued to the mortgage lender. It protects the lender’s interest in the property until the borrower pays off the mortgage. For a complete list of covered risks, see the Covered Risks section of the Loan Policy.
Most lenders will require a loan policy as a condition of the mortgage. The policy will repay the balance of your mortgage if a claim against your property voids your title. A loan policy covers up to the amount of the principal on your loan.
Loan policies remain in effect until you repay the loan. Most lenders will require you to buy a new loan policy if you refinance your home. When the new loan pays off the existing loan, the old loan policy expires.
When you buy an owner’s policy and a loan policy at the same time, the loan policy is issued at a discounted price of $100. If you decide not to purchase an owner’s policy, you will pay full price for the loan policy.
Yes, if you refinance within eight years. The premium discount varies, based on the number of years since your current loan began. If your current loan was within four years of your new loan, you get a 50% discount on the basic premium. If your current loan was between four and eight years before the new loan, you get a 25% discount. After eight years, you do not get a discount.
You are covered for the value of your policy. If you add improvements to your home, or if your home increases in value over time, you can buy an increased value endorsement to cover the increase in your property’s value.
No. The premium rate is set by the Texas Department of Insurance. Each title agent is required to charge the same premium for a policy.
In Texas, the premium includes charges for additional services such as the title search, the title examination, and closing the transaction. You only pay the title policy premium once, at the closing of the sale. The buyer and seller may negotiate who pays the premium.
You can shop around for cheaper escrow fees, or closing costs. These differ between agents. Some title companies add extra charges for things like tax certificates and escrow fees, recording fees, and delivery expenses. Review any extra charges carefully. Ask for documentation of the true cost of these services. You may ask to see your closing papers in advance. You may also have an attorney attend the closing with you.
Yes. Title insurance rates in Texas are regulated. All title companies will charge the same premium for a policy. Rates are based on the property’s sale value. For example, the basic premium for a $50,000 property is $496, and the basic premium for a $100,000 property is $832.
Title policy forms in Texas are promulgated, or standardized. This means most of the policy language is the same regardless of which company that sells the policy. Title agents are required to use the standardized forms. The parts of the policy that may be changed are the property description in Schedule A, the Exceptions in Schedule B, and the Exclusions. You should review those sections carefully. You can request corrections if you notice an error. The agent may be able to remove an exception, if a title problem is cleared up or if you buy additional coverage.
Check the policy’s legal description of the land against your survey to confirm that what is being conveyed in your contract is accurate. Title insurance does not protect against boundary disputes with your neighbor, unless you purchase additional coverage.
A Fee Attorney performs the closing function. Most all title companies (the agent) or title insurance companies (the underwriter) also have their own employees who handle closings. For the public, it is often hard to tell whether a title closing office is a company owned office or a Fee Attorney office.
The fees typically pay for the attorney’s time only. In addition to the fees, you may be required to pay costs associated with your legal representation like the cost of filing papers with the court or of sending correspondence to the opposing party. Sometimes attorneys require money down in the form of a retainer. Types of Fee Agreements
Yes! We specialize in multiple forms of real estate law. We are also a full service title company. Have a question about something you need? We’re here to help you. Please call us to set up a consultation.