156 Hamilton St., Leominster, MA
       

 

By Zachary Greenfield, Esq., Underwriting Counsel, Stewart Title Insurance Company

According to a recent study by consulting and actuarial group Milliman for the American Land Title Association, from 2013 to 2022, title insurance underwriters handled more than 200,000 claims and incurred approximately $4.4 billion dollars in claims losses and related expenses, 21% of which resulted from fraud and forgery claims. While the average claim cost for matters not involving fraud or forgery was $26,328, the average cost of each fraud or forgery claim was approximately $143,000.

The study grouped claims into 11 categories. The top four categories were as follows:

Category Description Percent of all claims
Basic Risk fraud, forgery, undisclosed heirs, marital rights, competency, etc. 24%
Special Risks mechanics’ liens, subordination of prior risks, underwritten risks, etc. 21%
Escrow and Closing Procedures improper instructions, improper payments, failure to make a payment, failure to complete post-closing duties, etc. 13.70%
Examination and Opinion irregularities irregular omissions, unforeseen risks, etc. 11.90%

The remaining categories included “apparent non-covered claims” (8%); “endorsement, title plan, search and abstract claims” (7.8%); “taxes and special assessment claims” (7%); “survey-inspection/description matters” (5.2%); “typing or policy review” (0.9%); “stakeholder and interpleader cases” (0.3%); and “disputed procedure” (0.2%), including matters such as foreclosures and government forfeitures.

Notably, the study found that in addition to being the most expensive type of claim, the frequency of fraud and forgery claims is on the rise. Whereas those claims represented 19% of all basic claims from 2013 to 2020, that figure rose to a staggering 44% in 2022. It is therefore now more important than ever to be on the lookout for potential title fraud. Your Stewart underwriters are always available to review any situations that you think might involve fraud or forgery. In this context, we urge you to follow the old adage, “if you see something, say something.”   To view the full study, follow this link:  Recent Study – Fraud & Forgery Link