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PA Insurance Department Urges Home Buyers to Become Familiar With Title Insurance

October 24, 2007

HARRISBURG, Pa., -- The Pennsylvania Insurance Department today encouraged consumers to consider the potential benefits of purchasing title insurance when buying a home.

"Buying a home is a major investment but not having the right insurance can leave you vulnerable," acting Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario said. "Most people know about auto, life and homeowners' insurance, but in the rush to close on the purchase of a home, they sometimes overlook title insurance."

The current edition of Consumer News You Can Use, the Office of Consumer Liaison's quarterly newsletter, highlights title insurance and discusses various things consumers should know before purchasing coverage.

Title insurance covers real estate owners in the event clear ownership of property is challenged because of faults or defects in the title, such as outstanding liens or easements on the property or anything that might get in the way of the homeowner's rights of ownership. This would include errors or omissions in deeds, fraud, forgery or mistakes in examining records. Home buyers who are financing their purchase will likely be required by the lender to buy a title insurance policy.

"Besides tacking on additional costs, title errors could even invalidate a homebuyer's right of ownership," Ario said. "Title insurance can be especially helpful in these situations as it will compensate the insured party for their covered losses and legal fees."

When it comes to cost, Ario hopes to make consumers aware that under state law, title insurance rates must be filed with, and approved by, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.

"It's illegal for title insurance companies to charge anything but the approved rate," Ario said. "Also, you may choose the title company you want; you don't have to use the company chosen by the lender or realtor. Feel free to shop around; ask about discounts, as they are available in some subdivisions, condominiums and when refinancing.

"Most importantly, always read all title insurance documents, including the fine print, and ask questions if anything is unclear or if the conditions or amounts are not the same as those you had previously discussed."

Source: Pennsylvania Insurance Department

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