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A.M. Best Releases Report on Title Insurance Industry

October 11, 2011

Due to the stressed housing market and ongoing economic downturn, 2010 was another difficult year for the title industry. Despite the historically low mortgage interest-rate environment, revenues were pressured from the high unemployment rate and tightened credit standards. As a result, operating results deteriorated and total industry written premiums declined slightly, year over year. Nevertheless, the title insurance industry managed to report an overall approximate 7 percent increase in surplus, driven mainly by the equity market recovery in 2010.

Despite uncertain macroeconomic and housing market conditions, A.M. Best Co. has maintained its stable rating outlook for the title sector with the view that the majority of ratings will not change over the near-to-medium term. (A stable outlook indicates that A.M. Best expects that rating actions within the market segment will not show a general trend and will be driven primarily by individual company operations.) The outlook indicates the industry’s relatively strong financial condition – as reflected in the balance sheet strength of the major title insurers – as well as positive operating margins through the first half of 2011, despite the operating environment’s unprecedented challenges.

In 2010, operating results for individual companies were mixed:

  • Title insurance direct premiums written were slightly down, at $8.7 billion in 2010, from $8.8 billion in 2009, or approximately a 1% drop year over year.
  • A sizable underwriting loss of $210 million, and substantially decreased net investment income. These were the primary causes for the net income loss of $105 million for the year, compared with positive net income of $429 million for 2009.

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