ATGF News and Blog

All the latest from ATGF



ATGF Hires State Agency Manager for Arizona

posted Jun 15, 2018, 9:51 AM by Kim Whitlock

ATGF is excited to announce our expansion into Arizona, with the addition of Tyrone “ TJ” Johnson as State Agency Manager. In addition to Arizona, TJ will be serving our agents in Minnesota and North Dakota.

TJ has served the title insurance industry since 1996, spending the first 20 years of his career working on the independent agent side of the business where he was very fortunate and eager to learn all aspects of agency operations. During that time he rose to the position of Operations Vice President, with executive oversight of a multi-office, statewide operation, personnel and administrative functions and business development and regulatory compliance. Later, he served as a State Agency Manager overseeing a three state territory for a major national title insurance underwriter. From these leadership positions he was able to further enhance company brand awareness and long term financial success.

TJ’s true passion is spending time and consulting with independent title agents, learning about their business operations and finding ways to help them achieve their goals. In his new role he will have an opportunity to develop relationships and new lines of business, while building upon and strengthening existing partnerships.

ATGF is excited to add TJ and his knowledge and expertise to our team!

The Owner's Policy- Know The Basics

posted Jun 15, 2018, 9:23 AM by Kim Whitlock

The owner’s policy has five sections: covered risks, the exclusions from coverage, Schedule A, Schedule B and the conditions.

1. Covered Risks

This section lists what kinds of risks the policy insures against. However, the policy makes it clear that the insurance of the listed risks are subject to (1) the Exclusions listed following the Covered Risks, (2) any exceptions listed in Schedule B, and (3) the Conditions.  In the most current ALTA Owner’s policy, there are ten covered risks listed in the policy.  Some of the most important covered risks are:

1.    the risk that someone else owns your property

2.    that there is some defect or encumbrance on your title caused by fraud or forgery

3.    any liens for real estate taxes or assessments that are due but unpaid

4.    that your title is unmarketable, that is, you are unable to sell your property to a purchaser because of a title defect

5.    right of access to and from your land.

Review your owner’s policy or ask your title agent about the covered risks included in your policy.



2. Exclusions

Exclusions limit the coverage of the policy. They deal with issues that are outside the control of the title company. The ALTA owner’s policy contains five exclusions, which include matters such as governmental regulations on the land and eminent domain, as well as title matters created or agreed to by the insured, or title defects known to the insured but not disclosed in writing to the title company prior to the date of the policy.  The policy does not insure against any defect or title issue that is created or attaches to the property after the date of the policy.  Also, the policy does not insure against the effects of bankruptcy law on the transaction creating the insured interest.




3. Schedule A

Schedule A sets forth the specific information on the title and policy, such as the date of policy, the amount of insurance, the insured, the legal description of the land insured by the policy and the estate insured, such as fee simple or leasehold.  Schedule A must be attached to the policy in order for the policy to be valid.



4. Schedule B

Schedule B lists the various exceptions to the title that the title company found when it performed its title search. Common exceptions would be things such as prior unreleased mortgages on the property, easements, taxes, restrictions on the use of the property, and any other limitations on the title such as homestead rights or survey issues if no survey has been performed. By listing various items as exceptions, the title company is telling the insured that these items are not covered by the title policy, and that the title company will not pay a claim or defend against a claim based on these excepted items.





5. Conditions

This section outlines the relationship between the insured and the title company.  Paragraph 1 contains the definitions of certain terms used in the policy. Terms such as “Insured,” “Insured Claimant,” “Knowledge” and “Public Records” are defined so as to eliminate any ambiguity.  There are several different paragraphs setting out how a claim under the policy is handled, including how to provide notice of a claim, what is required to prove loss, and the requirement that the insured must cooperate with the title company in the handling of the claim. The Conditions describe the rights of the title company to pay or settle the claim, and the determination, extent and limitation of liability. Most policies also contain a paragraph that allows the insured or the title company to demand arbitration if the amount is under $2 million.



EPIC CPL Changes

posted Jun 15, 2018, 8:29 AM by Kim Whitlock

Effective immediately, EPIC will remind you to re-issue a CPL when you have changed your selected lender. The following message will appear. Simply select OK and issue another CPL as usual.



Please contact our office with any questions 303-292-3055

Why Does Title Insurance Get A Bad Rap?

posted Jun 11, 2018, 6:24 PM by Kim Whitlock

While owner’s title insurance is optional to a homebuyer, we rarely hear homebuyers bemoan the fact that they are required to obtain homeowner’s insurance. The cost of owner’s title insurance premium paid by homebuyers to cover a hypothetical property costs $1,000 as a one-time premium without a deductible, while homeowner’s insurance would cost that same homebuyer $879 annually with a $500 deductible.

In other words, over a period of ten years of homeownership, that same homebuyer/homeowner would pay $962 for owner’s title insurance but pay $8,790 for homeowner’s insurance. Yet, rarely do we hear complaints about the required homeowner’s insurance coverage. But why?

Here are the stats that give rise to the negative chatter over owner’s title insurance...

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 6 percent of insured homes had a claim against the homeowner’s insurance policy compared to less than 1 percent of title insurance policy holders.  In an average year, the homeowner’s insurance industry paid out roughly $0.87 for every $1 in premium; whereas, the title insurance industry paid out only $0.05 for every $1 in premium. 

These statistics on their face – without an understanding of title insurance as a "risk elimination" line of indemnity insurance – raise eyebrows.

Further, these statistics would lead one to assume that the title insurance industry is a far more profitable industry than the homeowner’s insurance industry when, in fact, the opposite is true. As of 2008, the top three title insurance underwriters lost money while the top three homeowner’s insurance companies were profitable.

But here is the rub...

Title insurance is not homeowner’s insurance. Title insurance is about "risk elimination" of title problems arising from past events and not "risk assumption" of future events.

According to the American Land Title Association, 25% of properties have a title defect that requires clearing and curing title prior to closing and, in most cases, this work is performed and cured without the parties to the transaction ever knowing about it.

The cost for this work is paid with title insurance premiums; both to the title agent in the form of commissions and to third-party service providers for reviewing and clearing title. Title insurance premiums also pay for the cost of maintaining accuracy of title plants and other title records.

So, in addition to paying out claims for human error or fraud by a seller or prior homeowner, the title insurance premium also covers work performed for eliminating the risk of a title defect.

Before the advent of title insurance, homebuyers hired and paid attorneys to review title, cure title, and issue an attorney’s opinion title. If the attorney erred, the homeowner could make a claim against the attorney – assuming the attorney had not since been disbarred for malpractice.

In this modern world, the homeowner has the option of purchasing owner’s title insurance for which they can rely on the title insurance underwriter (or, in the event of a defalcation or bankruptcy, it’s regulating state insurance commission) to make good on a claim.

Who Benefits:

Title insurance services offer a wide range of protection to the many different parties who have various interests in real estate transactions. The benefits of title insurance protect:

• Real Estate purchasers

• Sellers

• Lenders

• Real Estate Brokers

• Attorneys

• Homebuilders

Good news! We found a way to help you save money!

posted May 18, 2018, 11:20 AM by Kim Whitlock   [ updated May 18, 2018, 11:37 AM ]

    In an ongoing effort to continually support our agents, ATGF has recently partnered with a third-party vendor, Ship Club, to provide discounted shipping rates to our agents in all states. This would allow our agents to take advantage of special group pricing for UPS, FedEx and USPS. While this is geared mainly toward agents who don’t currently have accounts with these shipping providers or another third-party vendor, if you already have an existing UPS, FedEx or third-party account, they can provide helpful tips and guidance on negotiating a better rate with your current shipping vendor.

    The payment option for shipping will be Net-15 via credit card, and they are developing an ACH option, which will be available in the coming months. Their shipping portal is very user friendly and you will have the option to choose from FedEx, UPS or USPS, whichever has the best pricing. You will be able to view and download your invoices online, and you’ll be able to order free supplies for the shippers you use.

    If you are interested in receiving more information and/or signing up for these special, discounted rates, please complete the attached questionnaire and email to atgf@ourshipclub.com. Sharon Lynn is our point of contact and will setup your account through the www.ourshipclub.com website.

    If you have any other questions regarding this benefit, please contact Beth Starbuck via email at bstarbuck@atgf.net, or via phone at 303.383.4325.

ATGF Strengthens Leadership Team by Promoting Brian Phillips to CEO

posted May 8, 2018, 8:50 AM by Kim Whitlock

Denver, Colorado                                                                                                          May 7, 2018

Attorneys Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. (ATGF) Chairman, Maurizio Romanin, and President, Eric Morgan, announce that Brian Phillips has been named Chief Executive Officer of ATGF.  “We’re moving into an ambitious growth phase and adding strength to our senior leadership team.  Brian’s expertise and background make him a natural fit to lead operations and engage in ongoing development of our innovative technology for title agents,” Romanin stated.   

Eric Morgan will continue as President and have primary responsibility for ATGF’s licensing expansion, financial operations and regulatory relations.  “Expanding our leadership team allows us to devote greater resources to proactive business development initiatives.  Moving Brian into this role is a significant step for taking the company to the next level,” Morgan added. “I’m excited to focus on the areas where I can make the greatest contribution to our ongoing success.”

Phillips expressed his excitement at assuming this leadership role at a dynamic and growing company.  “ATGF’s record financial performance and dynamic, forward thinking approach have us in a great position to grow.  I look forward to building upon the success achieved since the Company’s transfer of ownership and management in 2010.  I’m excited to work with the exceptional employees at ATGF and to help our team continue delivery of exceptional support services to existing and new agents in many additional states.”

Mr. Phillips’s experience includes representing clients in land use disputes, title claims, defense of title insurers, as well as real estate acquisitions, development and finance.  He has a proven track record in assisting clients and achieving desired results.  Prior to joining ATGF, Mr. Phillips was Vice President and Senior Claims Counsel for a major national title insurer.   “After Phillips joined ATGF as Associate General Counsel early in 2017 I quickly recognized he was capable of leading ATGF’s next phase of growth,” said Romanin.  “Brian’s become an invaluable resource to our agents and our business,” added Morgan.  “We want to tap into all of his skills to grow our business and technological capabilities.” 

About Attorneys Title Guaranty Fund, Inc.

Founded in 1960, ATGF has been providing best in class title insurance underwriting and services for more than 50 years.  The company’s mission is helping agents succeed through trusted products and services, innovative technology and amazing support. ATGF has maintained a strong Financial Stability Rating® (FSR) of A, Exceptional, from the independent rating agency, Demotech, Inc. For more information on ATGF or EPIC, contact ATGF’s CEO, Brian Phillips at bphillips@atgf.net or 303-383-4333. www.atgf.net

Auto-fill document date and notary acknowledgment info. in EPIC

posted May 7, 2018, 3:04 PM by Kim Whitlock

Your Closing / Signing date and Notary Acknowledgment information can be entered in the DOCUMENT CONTROL ITEMS tab. Anything entered here will populate into your Closing Package.


 

 

Should You Outsource?

posted May 7, 2018, 9:28 AM by Kim Whitlock

There are many ways to manage the ups and downs of the market. One option to consider is to create a variable cost structure to your business by outsourcing certain tasks.

There are hordes of outsource/BPO firms – all of whom extol their virtues openly. How do you know which ones are good? Most of them talk a good game and tell you what you want to hear. How do you know they aren’t learning title on your dime? How do you know they will deliver? Do they have adequate security policies and procedures in place to protect NPI, including personnel background checks sufficient to comply with US lender standards? What is the best way to manage them? What tasks should you start with?

ProsperitasForward is fortunate in that we really do get to see it all. We know the real-life experiences our clients have had with various vendors, and what an agency can truly expect. We can eliminate the guesswork.

Outsourcing can make a lot of sense if done right.

We typically see our clients identify non consumer facing tasks as ideal for an outsourcing plan. Those tasks include:

  1. Order Entry
  2. Closing Protection Letter Generation
  3. Commitment Typing
  4. Payoff Ordering
  5. HOA Document Processing
  6. Subordination Processing
  7. CD Preparation (with title, settlement and recording fees only)
  8. Policy Typing
  9. Cover Record Processing
  10. Post Closing File Audit

Aside the value of enabling a variable cost structure, outsourcing can save you money, improve efficiency, and provide better and faster deliverables so that you can focus on core services. Outsourcing can help level the playing field and give you access to the same economies of scale, efficiency, and expertise that the biggest title companies enjoy.

Done right, it can be a game changer.

– Howard Turk

                                                                                                                                                                                   Source: ProsperitasForward.com

Tips On How To Improve Your Team's Workflow Part II

posted May 7, 2018, 8:52 AM by Kim Whitlock   [ updated May 8, 2018, 8:48 AM ]

PART II
MAKING IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE
TITLE & ESCROW INDUSTRY OFFICE WORKFLOW

• Process improvement is ever evolving and in order to ensure you are the most successful at it you must constantly be looking for ways to make it better.
  • As new people come into the team or new tasks and deliverables are realized then team workflow must change.
  • Technology can also be a driving force behind changing or updating your workflow.
• Where are the biggest bottlenecks?
  •  Sometimes it’s not that you don’t have a process but rather that the process isn’t actually helping. It could actually be hurting the team’s workflow.
  •  When you setup your workflow you need to make sure that each part of the process makes sense and can be done the most efficiently so the next step can be done.
Example: Commitments aren’t getting completed on time.
• First thing you must do is ask why?
• There is a reason that you are not able to achieve this goal and you have to find out why?
• You might find that it could be caused by who is doing a certain process and in what order.
• Tasking one person with too many priorities can sometimes cause bottle necks.
  •  Order entry is done by the same resource that does Front desk/reception.
  •  Set guidelines for what gets done when and what takes priorities.
  •  Assigning one person with too many tasks means at some point something is going to give.
How to Resolve the Issue:
• Do you have enough people working on a stage of the process? Not enough resources will create a bottleneck.
• Are you using the most efficient method?
• If you don’t want to add more people then find out how less people can get more done.
• Top Watch It: Observe the work and time it. How many minutes does it take to process title and entering commitment data? Multiply that by how many there is to do on average and you will see if they can get it done in time.
• Pay attention to steps and tasks (opportunity to improve some or all steps in the process)

Stop the Chaos Before it Starts
• If you know problem spots, address them now.
• Develop processes to streamline workflow.
• DOCUMENT YOUR PROCESSES!!!
• Closings are hectic and many components come together at the last minute. Minimize the chaos and avoid last minute scrambling around.

Answer questions before they are asked
• Why wait to react when you can be proactive?
• Poll your teams and identify if there are questions that always get asked.
• Create job aids and resources to deal with common questions. Internal resource sharing goes
a long way.

Set a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Your Partners
• Don’t wait on Your Partners.
• Set expectations upfront to key vendors and service providers to get you what you need
in a your timeframe.
• Knowing how long you may have to wait will allow users to work on other things and not
just play a waiting game.

Go Paperless
• We live in a world of paper. Ever add uphow much time you and your team spend
tracking down and sorting through all that paper?
• Having an effective paperless file management system will save you time and money.
• Use your TECHNOLOGY. Search and track documents electronically gets you what you
need much faster.
• Provides better audit

Cross Train Employees
• We have all been there... It’s the end of the month and your top closer is out sick!No one
knows anything about their files or even their job processes.
• Always have at least one other person in your office that can pick up someone’s work for
a day
• Have mechanisms in place where one can see easily what the other has to work on and
jump in.
TECHNOLOGY
YOU GOT IT
USE IT!!!

• Rekeying and doing manual work just because it’s what you have always done equals a bad
workflow.
• Take the time to learn what you have available to you within your software. Figure out how
you can work it into your team’s processes.
• Train, Enforce and validate the technologies you are leveraging to ensure for the highest level
of productivity.

Make a list the most boring and repetitive tasks. The tasks they are slowest at doing and complain the
most about are usually the tasks that tools solve best.

• Leverage a task management system. Every file should have a standard frame work of
tasks and workflow that you can plot out using your software.
• Leverage every integration you can find! Don’t rekey data that you can automate. It’s
quicker and leaves less room for error.
• Find technologies that help you communicate both internally andwith your customers.
• There are lots of interoffice chat tools that help users get out of the email habit. Email
can be a huge workflow killer if not used appropriately.
• If email is a must, create distribution lists. Ensure the right people and the right teams are
receiving the email rather than one individual where it may get lost.
• Utilize integrations for external communications.

EPIC TROUBLESHOOTING

posted Apr 10, 2018, 8:07 AM by Kim Whitlock

In order to insure EPIC continues to run smoothly we suggest the following

  •          Periodically delete cookies by select GENERAL TAB select SETTINGS, VIEW FILES, CTRL A to select all, then DELETE BUTTON from keyboard. Select YES to delete all and exit all windows. Then select F5 ON your keyboard to refresh changes.
  •          Select the hammer icon from your EPIC login screen. Once selected RUN file.
  •          Select the check mark icon from your EPIC login screen and follow the instructions above.

 

EPIC is web based and following these tips will insure all new utilities and updates have been installed.


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