Real Property Article

August, 2007


By John C. Murray
© 2007



Title agents are customarily authorized, through agency agreements, to sell policies for one or more title insurance underwriters. These agency agreements normally provide that the agent is an agent solely for the purpose of issuing title insurance commitments and policies, and explicitly state that the agent is not the title company’s agent for the purpose of conducting settlements or performing escrow services. Authorized title agents also often act separately as the agent for the lender, buyer and/or seller, pursuant to instructions from such "principals" (that only such principals can enforce), in connection with the escrow closing of the transaction that is the subject of the title insurance. A lender who also wants the title insurer to be responsible for the agent's acts in connection with escrow closing activities and services must separately contract with the title insurer for such additional protection by entering into an "insured closing letter" or "closing protection letter” (“CPL”). CPLs have been available since the 1960s. They originally were not title-industry approved forms but, rather, were forms requested by mortgage lenders that were concerned they had no protection against unauthorized or fraudulent actions, or failure to comply with the lender’s closing instructions, by the title company’s approved closing agent or attorney. Lenders require CPLs because the agency-principal relationship between a title underwriter and a policy-issuing agent or approved attorney is limited to the issuance of a title-insurance policy, and such relationship does not extend to escrow or closing functions.

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