Maryland state delegate Luiz Simmons (R-Montgomery) said this week that he plans to reintroduce legislation soon to regulate the title insurance industry in the state.
The legislation would place a ceiling on commissions title insurance agents may receive and would require the state insurance commissioner to review the insurance rates every few years, said Steve Silverman, Simmons' administrative assistant.
The state insurance commissioner reported recently that title insurance companies and real estate lawyers make between 50 cents and 70 cents for every premium dollar.
Title insurance is usually required by lenders as a condition of any mortgage loan. For a one-time payment of several hundred dollars, the insurance guarantees that the title to the property is clear of any claims and that if a dispute over the title arises the home buyer and the mortgage lender will not lose their investments.
Deputy Insurance Commissioner Richard J. Brooks has said that the title insurance system encourages real estate lawyers to steer home buyers to insurers who charge the highest premium.
Simmons introduced similar legislation last year, but the insurance industry lobbyists fought it off, Silverman said. The General Assembly requested that a study be made to document alleged abuses of the system.
Silverman said that in 1950 the average cost of a house in Montgomery County was $4,100 and title insurance cost about $10.