GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES NEW REGULATIONS TO CRACK DOWN ON KICKBACKS AND IMPROPER EXPENSES IN THE TITLE INSURANCE INDUSTRY

“Anti-inducement” regulations and broader reforms expected to cut title insurance closing costs up to 20 percent for new purchases, up to 60 percent for refinances

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced new regulations to crack down on kickbacks and other improper expenditures (such as excessive meal and entertainment expenses) in the title insurance industry, which a Department of Financial Services investigation uncovered are significantly inflating title insurance premiums for consumers. These new regulations, together with broader reform measures, are expected to reduce title insurance closing costs by up to 20 percent for new home purchases and up to 60 percent for refinancing transactions.

“New Yorkers should not have to foot the bill for outrageous or improper expenses made by title companies just to refinance or close on their home,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our administration will not stand for that kind of abuse in the title insurance industry, and these new regulations will help ensure that New Yorkers are protected from unfair charges and get the most bang for their buck.”

Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said, “Our investigation uncovered that title insurance companies paid for lavish meals and entertainment on the dime of consumers, which inflated premiums. These new reforms will help significantly reduce costs for homeowners by trimming the fat and making sure that New Yorkers get what they pay for in the title insurance industry.”

The regulation outlines categories of expenditures which, when provided as an inducement for title insurance business, are improper and violative of the New York Insurance Law. These expenditures include meals, entertainment, vacations and gifts that are provided to attorneys, real estate professionals, and others, who represent consumers and order title insurance on their behalf.

The investigation revealed that these types of expenditures are routinely made by title insurance corporations and agents in an effort to secure title insurance business. These improper expenditures have been included in the calculation of title insurance rates and have saddled New York consumers with excessive title insurance premiums for years. The regulation mandates that these improper expenditures, which violate the anti-inducement provision of the Insurance Law, be eliminated from the rates, thereby resulting in lower title insurance premiums.

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