What is Title Insurance?

Title Insurance is an insurance policy provided by title insurance companies that protects residential or commercial property owners and/or their lenders against losses related to a property's title or ownership.

While each title insurer may offer slightly different coverage, some of the coverage provided by title insurance companies includes: coverage for unknown title defects; survey errors and errors in public records; losses related to improvements made without the requisite building permits (unless made by you); existing liens against the property's title for unpaid debts by the previous owner (utilities, taxes, mortgages or condominium charges registered against the property); real estate fraud and forgery; invalidity of mortgages; and encroachments and unregistered easement issues.

Title insurance will generally not cover known title defects, environmental hazards, native land claims, matters created, allowed or agreed to by the insured, or matters known to the insured but not disclosed to the title insurer prior to closing (e.g. matters identified in a building inspection).

Title insurance is usually purchased by a buyer at the time of purchase, although it may be purchased anytime after.  The insurance cost, generally a one time fee or premium, is usually determined by the property’s value and depends upon the chosen provider.

Here's an example:  An elderly seller owns a piece of property in a rural area for many years.  After obtaining a variance from the governing authority, the seller constructs outbuildings which encroach upon the adjacent property.  No record is kept of the variance by the approving authority.

Years later, when selling the property, the seller completes the Property Disclosure Statement indicating that he is unaware of any unregistered encroachments.  The buyer discovers the encroachment after purchasing the property and incurs a loss in rectifying the issue.  A buyer with title insurance would likely be indemnified by the title insurer for any proven loss associated with the violation.  A buyer without title insurance would likely sue the seller to recover losses associated with the undisclosed encroachment.

Here are examples of recent claims paid out to BC homeowners by a major title insurer:

  • Buyer received notice from the City that the basement apartment was built without obtaining required development or building permits.  A permit was required to remove or to legalize the apartment. Cost of claim: $239,958.
  • Buyer had municipality conduct a site inspection of the property after experiencing plumbing problems.  The inspector found numerous problems with the dwelling, as well as illegal gas and plumbing lines, and an unpermitted addition to the garage.  The municipality issued an Order to Comply. Cost of claim: $270,797.

Excerpted by the British Columbia Real Estate Board's publication, Legally Speaking, written by Jennifer Clee of the Real Estate Errors & Omissions Insurance Corporation. To read this article in its entirety click here http://www.bcrea.bc.ca/publications/legally_speaking442.htm

To find out more about Title Insurance, please contact Paige Gregson at 250-549-2103.

Paige Gregson

Paige Gregson

CENTURY 21 Executives Realty Ltd.
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