Bulletin: SLS2009004

Date:
March 20, 2009
To:
All Issuing Offices
RE:
Use of Starters for Title Search [Revised 3-23-09]

Dear Associates:

Title insurance agents and title insurers commonly use starters or prior searches/title policies or other forms to begin a title search, and then update that search, check applicable names, and verify payment of taxes, assessments, and other applicable charges.

UNLESS YOU HAVE REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THE PRIOR TITLE EVIDENCE FROM ANOTHER COMPANY IS INCOMPLETE OR OTHERWISE MAY NOT ACCURATELY REFLECT THE STATE OF TITLE AS OF ITS EFFECTIVE DATE, YOU MAY RELY ON THE TITLE EVIDENCE AS A STARTER FOR YOUR SEARCH AND EXAMINATION. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT THE PRIOR TITLE EVIDENCE OR SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION MAY BE UNRELIABLE (SUCH AS A FAILED TITLE COMPANY) OR INCOMPLETE, YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH YOUR STEWART UNDERWRITER.

Subject to any local regulatory requirements (such as in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Missouri), establishing more stringent standards, you may use starters as follows:

  • You may use a prior Owner's Policy with specific Schedule B title exceptions to begin your search, even if the prior Owner's Policy was issued by another title insurer (even if it has been merged into another title insurer) or title insurance agent.

  • You may use a prior Loan Policy with specific Schedule B title exceptions to begin your search for issuance of a new Loan Policy, even if the prior Loan Policy was issued by another title insurer or title insurance agent. If you will issue a new Owner's Policy based on a prior Loan Policy as a starter, you should begin your search one year before the date of the prior Loan Policy.

  • You may use a prior Commitment for Title Insurance, from a prior transaction or otherwise approved by our underwriters, with specific title exceptions to begin your search, even if the prior commitment was issued by another title insurer or title insurance agent. You should not assume that requirements of the commitment were satisfied, without additional sufficient evidence.

  • You may not use a commercial or residential short form (a form not containing specific title exceptions) or short form commitment as a starter for an Owner's or Loan Policy that will have specific title exceptions.

  • You may not use a Limited Coverage/Home Equity/Junior Loan/Foreclosure Policy or Guarantee as a starter.
    If local statutory and regulatory requirements require a more stringent standard, you must comply with that standard. All starter information must be properly obtained in accordance with applicable law.

If local statutory and regulatory requirements require a more stringent standard, you must comply with that standard. All starter information must be properly obtained in accordance with applicable law.

You should do your regular search of names for parties who are in the chain from the time of commencement of your examination, including those parties shown as vested in title by the starter.

You should do your regular search for taxes, assessments and other charges.

If a significant gap between the current date and the date of the available title records exists in the applicable county, you should also search that approximate gap time behind the date of the starter.

You may continue to rely upon our previously issued guidelines for more limited searches, for other forms, available in your jurisdiction, such as short form loan policies, commercial short form loan policies, short form owner's policies, home equity policies, junior loan policies, foreclosure policies and guarantees, so long as those reduced search requirements comply with local statutory and regulatory requirements.

You must secure overlimits approval from our underwriters for issuance if the new policy to be issued will exceed your authority to issue without underwriter approval.

You must have possession of a copy of the prior policy in order to use it as a starter and keep that copy in the archival file.

If you have questions relating to this bulletin, please contact Stewart Legal Services or your local Underwriting Personnel.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto http://www.vuwriter.com .

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
NL000017 This Bulletin has been replaced by SLS2009004.
 
SLS2007001 This Bulletin has been replaced by SLS2009004.
Related Bulletins:
MU000018 Title Search Requirements
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None