Did you know that a Maryland settlement agent providing a free home warranty may be illegally rebating title insurance?
January 5, 2018
Earlier this year, we reported that the Virginia Bureau of Insurance had determined that it is illegal for Virginia title insurance agents to offer free home warranties, home inspections or other things of value as an inducement to purchase title insurance (i.e., as an inducement for the purchaser to select that title agent as the provider of real estate settlement services for the purchase transaction). In our earlier report, we predicted that it would only be a matter of time before similar opinions were issued by the District of Columbia and Maryland Insurance Administrations.
It has taken almost a full year, but on December 18, 2017, the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) issued its Bulletin 17-16, adopting a position similar to Virginia. Specifically, MIA Bulletin 17-16 states that “offering rebates or discounts in the form of free home warranties or home inspections as thank you gifts to consumers who purchase a title insurance policy from an insurance producer is prohibited by Maryland insurance law. Likewise, offering all consumers seeking title insurance free home warranties or inspections regardless of whether a title insurance purchase is ultimately made is also prohibited by Maryland insurance law.”
As stated in our earlier installment, unless the title insurance rates filed with the jurisdiction specifically identify the purchase of a home warranty, home inspection or similar benefit, paying for such items is a prohibited marketing tool for title companies in Virginia and now in Maryland. Although D.C. has not yet issued any formal guidance on this issue, the rationale applied by Virginia and Maryland’s insurance regulators would likely apply in the District, too.
For more information regarding our Residential Real Estate Settlements Group or our general real estate transactions and litigation practice, please contact the Group Chair at 301-230-6574 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This publication/newsletter is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting a lawyer.