Bulletin: MD000026

Date:
February 11, 2004
To:
All Maryland Issuing Agents
RE:
Notary "Sign-Up" Closings

Dear Associates:

During the recent refinance boom, we have seen Lenders utilizing Maryland notaries to perform refinance closings, frequently referred to as notary sign-ups. The notary who performed a "sign-up" was most frequently not qualified by the Maryland Insurance Administration ("MIA") as a title insurance producer.  Many notaries were trying to make some extra money doing closings, but did not want to go to the time and expense of qualifying as a title insurance producer through the MIA.  Our advice to those lenders and / or title agents who would call from time to time has been that this type of closing is not legal in Maryland , and we have strongly suggested they not engage in notary sign-ups.  Recently, the Maryland Insurance Administration has issued a bulletin declaring that notary sign-ups by a notary who is not licensed as a title insurance producer violate the Insurance Article of the Maryland Code. This effectively does away with notary sign-ups unless the notary is licensed as a title insurance producer.

Attached is a copy of the bulletin put out by the MIA under date of 12/1/03, and it should be read for guidance on this matter.

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.

STATE OF MARYLAND
MARYLAND INSURANCE ADMINISTRATION
525 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, Maryland 21202-2272
Writer's Direct Dial: 410-468-2235
Facsimile Number: 410-468-2204
e-mail : tcioni@mdinsurance.state.rnd.US
mailto:tcioni@rndinsUraflCe.State.ttld.U5

BULLETIN

To: Title Insurers
Re: Title Insurance Producers
Date: December 1, 2003

Bulletin: Property & Casualty 03-18

The purpose of this Bulletin is to provide notice of the position of the Maryland Insurance Administration ("MIA") regarding the application of §10-101(i) of the Insurance Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland to notaries public who participate in real estate closings or settlements. Pursuant to § 10-101(i), any person or company that provides escrow, closing, or settlement services that may result in the -issuance of title insurance must be licensed by the MIA as a title insurance producer. A notary who merely attends a real estate closing or settlement that is conducted by another person or entity and who merely witnesses signatures in consideration of the statutory fees that a notary is permitted to charge does not, in the view of the MIA, fall within the scope of § 10-101i) and is not required to secure a title insurance producer's license in order to perform such services.

However, if the notary is the only individual other than the buyer who is present and the notary is presenting documents for signature which may result in the issuance of title insurance, collecting escrow funds, or otherwise performing any duty other than the witnessing of a signature, it is the position of the MIA that the notary is performing escrow, closing or settlement services that fall within the scope of § 10-101(i) and, thus, must be licensed as a title insurance producer to perform those services.

Questions concerning this Bulletin may be directed to Darlene Arnold, Enforcement Officer at 410-468-2354 or at darnold@mdinsurance.state.md.us

________________________________
P. Todd Cioni, Associate Commissioner
Compliance and Enforcement Unit
Maryland Insurance Adniinistration

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None