Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 50A. Title Insurance Insurers.


§ 31–5031.01. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Abstract of title” or “abstract” means a written history, synopsis, or summary of the recorded instruments affecting the title to real property.

(2) “Affiliate” means, with respect to a person, another person that directly, or indirectly through one or more intermediaries, controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the person.

(3) Repealed.

(4) “Attorney” means a person who holds a license to practice law in the District of Columbia.

(4A) “Business entity” means a corporation, association, partnership, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or other legal entity.

(5) “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking, or the Commissioner’s representatives, or the commissioner, director, or superintendent of insurance in any other state.

(6) “Direct operations” means that portion of a title insurer’s operations that is attributable to business written or conducted directly by an employee of:

(A) The title insurer;

(B) A title insurance producer owned by:

(i) The title insurer;

(ii) A parent entity owning the title insurer;

(iii) A holding entity owning the title insurer; or

(iv) A subsidiary of a parent or holding entity owning a title insurer.

(7) “Escrow” means written instruments, money, or other items deposited by one party with a depository, escrow agent, or escrowee for delivery to another party upon the performance of a specified condition or the happening of a certain event.

(8) “Escrow Officer” means a person who maintains an escrow or indemnified deposit account.

(9) “Escrow, settlement, or closing fee” means the consideration for supervising or handling the actual execution, delivery, or recording of transfer and lien documents and for disbursing funds.

(10) “Fire and Casualty Act” means Chapter 25 of this title [§ 31-2501.01 et seq.].

(11) “Foreign title insurer” means any title insurer incorporated or organized under the laws of any other state of the United States or any other jurisdiction of the United States.

(12) “Indemnity” or “indemnity deposit” means funds or other property received by the title insurer as collateral to secure an indemnitor’s obligation under an indemnity agreement pursuant to which the insurer is granted a perfected security interest in the collateral in exchange for agreeing to provide coverage in a title insurance policy for a specific title exception to coverage.

(12A) “Individual” means a natural person.

(13) “IRLA” means Chapter 13 of this title [§  31-1301 et seq.) ].

(14) “Net retained liability” means the total liability retained by a title insurer for a single risk, after taking into account any ceded liability and collateral, acceptable to the Commissioner, maintained by the insurer.

(15) “Non-U.S. title insurer” means any title insurer incorporated or organized under the laws of any foreign nation or any province or territory.

(16) “Person” means an individual or business entity.

(17) “Personal property” means stock ownership in a cooperative housing association.

(18) “Qualified financial institution” means an institution that is:

(A) Organized or, in the case of a United States branch or agency office of a foreign banking organization, licensed under the laws of the United States or any state and has been granted authority to operate with fiduciary powers;

(B) Regulated, supervised, and examined by federal or state authorities having regulatory authority over banks and trust companies;

(C) Insured by the appropriate federal entity; and

(D) Qualified under any additional rules established by the Commissioner.

(19) “Referral source” means any person, including an officer, director, or owner of more than 5% or more of the equity or capital of any person engaged in the District in the trade, business, occupation, or profession of:

(A) Buying or selling interests in real property;

(B) Making loans secured by interests in real property; or

(C) Acting as broker, agent, representative, or attorney of a person who buys or sells any interest in real property or who lends or borrows money with the interest as security.

(20) Repealed.

(21) “Subsidiary” means an affiliate controlled by a person, directly or indirectly, through one or more intermediaries.

(22) “Title insurance business” or “business of title insurance” means:

(A) Issuing as an insurer, or offering to issue as an insurer, a title insurance policy;

(B) Engaging in, or proposing to engage in, any of the following activities when conducted or performed in contemplation of or in conjunction with the issuance of a title insurance policy:

(i) Soliciting or negotiating the issuance of a title insurance policy;

(ii) Guaranteeing, warranting, or otherwise insuring the correctness of title searches for all instruments affecting titles to real property, any interest in real property, cooperative units, and proprietary leases, and for all liens or charges affecting the same;

(iii) Executing title insurance policies;

(iv) Effecting contracts of reinsurance; or

(v) Abstracting, searching, or examining titles;

(C) Guaranteeing, warranting, or insuring searches or examinations of title to real property or any interest in real property;

(D) Guaranteeing or warranting the status of title as to ownership of or liens on real property or personal property by any person other than the principals to the transaction;

(E) Doing, or holding oneself out to do, business substantially equivalent to any of the activities listed in this paragraph in a manner designed to evade the provisions of this chapter; or

(F) Matters insuring the correctness or marketability of title.

(23) “Title insurance commitment” means a preliminary report, commitment, or binder issued prior to the issuance of a title insurance policy containing the terms, conditions, exceptions, and any other matters incorporated by reference under which the title insurer is willing to issue its title insurance policy.

(24) “Title insurance policy” or “policy” means a contract insuring or indemnifying owners of, or other persons lawfully interested in, real or personal property or any interest in real or personal property, against loss or damage arising from any or all of the following conditions existing on or before the policy date and not excepted or excluded:

(A) Defects in, or liens or encumbrances on, the insured title;

(B) Unmarketability of the insured title;

(C) Invalidity, lack of priority, or unenforceability of liens or encumbrances on the stated property;

(D) Lack of legal right of access to the land;

(E) Unenforceability of rights in title to the land and other matters affecting the title to, or the right to the use and enjoyment of, the property; or

(F) Matters insuring the correctness or marketability of title.

(25)(A) “Title insurance producer” or “producer” means a person who is authorized to perform, on behalf of a title insurer, the following acts in conjunction with the issuance of a title insurance commitment or policy covering real or personal property situated in the District of Columbia:

(i) Determining insurability and issuing title insurance commitments or policies, or both, based upon the performance or review of a search or abstract of title; and

(ii) Soliciting or negotiating title insurance business.

(B) The term “title insurance producer” or “producer” shall not include:

(i) A financial institution (and its employees) that does not solicit, procure, or negotiate title insurance contracts for compensation or conduct title insurance business;

(ii) An employee of an abstracting company;

(iii) A person whose activities in the District are limited to advertising, without the intent to solicit insurance in the District, through communications in printed publications or other forms of electronic mass media; provided, that the person does not sell, solicit, or negotiate insurance that would insure risks of persons residing in or located in, or activities to be performed in, the District;

(iv) A salaried full-time employee who counsels or advises his or her employer relative to the insurance interests of the employer or of the subsidiaries of the employer; provided, that the employee does not sell, solicit, or negotiate insurance, or receive a commission; or

(v) An employee of a title insurer; provided, that the employee’s activities are not focused on transactions in the District of Columbia, his or her primary responsibilities cover multiple states, and his or her involvement in transactions is to coordinate with title insurance producers licensed in the District of Columbia who conduct title insurance business.

(26) “Title insurer” or “insurer” means a company organized under laws of the District of Columbia for the purpose of transacting the business of title insurance and any foreign or non-U.S. title insurer licensed in the District of Columbia to transact the business of title insurance.

(27) “Title plant” means a set of records consisting of documents, maps, surveys, or entries affecting title to real property or any interest in or encumbrance on the property, which have been filed or recorded in the jurisdiction for which the title plant is established or maintained.

(28) “Underwrite” means to accept or reject, or have the authority to accept or reject, risk on behalf of a title insurer.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2142, 57 DCR 6242; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-40, § 5(a), 60 DCR 12304.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-40 repealed (3); added (4A) and (12A); rewrote (16); repealed (20); and substituted “real or personal property” for “residential or personal property” in (25)(A).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2142 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).

Short Title

Short title: Section 2141 of D.C. Law 18-223 provided that subtitle M of title II of the act may be cited as the “Title Insurance Insurer Act of 2010”.


§ 31–5031.02. Licensing needed to transact business.

No person, other than a domestic, foreign, or non-U.S. title insurer organized on the stock plan and licensed under Chapter 25 of this title [§ 31-2501.01 et seq.], shall issue a title insurance policy or otherwise transact the business of title insurance in the District.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2143, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2143 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.03. Authorized activities of title insurers.

Subject to the exceptions and restrictions contained in this chapter, a title insurer may do any of the following:

(1) Engage in the business of writing title insurance directly or through title insurance producers appointed for the purpose of issuing policies of title insurance;

(2) Reinsure title insurance policies;

(3) Unless prohibited by the Commissioner, perform ancillary activities, including examining titles to real property and any interest in real or personal property and procuring and furnishing related information and information about relevant personal property, when not in contemplation of, or in conjunction with, the issuance of a title insurance policy; and

(4) Maintain or perform escrow, indemnity, or settlement services.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2144, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2144 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.04. Limitations on powers.

(a) An insurer that transacts any class, type, or kind of business other than title insurance business shall not be eligible for the issuance or renewal of a license to transact the business of title insurance in the District of Columbia and shall not transact title insurance business.

(b) A title insurer shall not engage in the business of guaranteeing payment of the principal of, or the interest on, bonds or mortgages.

(c)(1) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, and to the extent such coverage is lawful within the District, a title insurer may issue closing or settlement protection to a proposed insured upon request if the title insurer issues a preliminary report, binder, or title insurance policy. The closing or settlement protection shall conform to the terms of coverage and form of instrument as required by the Commissioner and may indemnify a proposed insured against loss of settlement funds because of the following acts of a title insurer’s named title insurance producer:

(A) Theft of settlement funds in connection with the closing to the extent that the theft relates to the status of the title to that interest in land or to the validity, enforceability, and priority of the lien of the mortgage on that interest in land; and

(B) Failure to comply with the written closing instructions by the proposed insured when agreed to by the title insurance producer, to the extent that they relate to the status of the title to that interest in land or the validity, enforceability, and priority of the lien of the mortgage on that interest in land.

(2) The Commissioner may promulgate by rule pursuant to § 31-5031.23, or approve, a required charge for providing the coverage.

(3) Repealed.

(4) Except as provided under this chapter, a title insurer shall not provide any other coverage which purports to indemnify against improper acts or omissions of a person with regard to escrow, settlement, or closing services.

(5) The form of closing protection letter used by a title insurer and rates shall be filed with the Commissioner as provided by § 31-5031.18(b)(3).


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2145, 57 DCR 6242; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-40, § 5(b), 60 DCR 12304.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-40, in (c)(1), deleted “solely” preceding “against loss” and deleted “only” preceding “because of”; and repealed (c)(3).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2145 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.05. Minimum capital and surplus requirements.

Before being licensed to do an insurance business in the District, a title insurer shall establish and maintain a minimum paid-in capital of not less than $500,000 and paid-in initial surplus of at least $500,000, for a total minimum capital and surplus total of at least $1 million.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2146, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2146 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.06. Single risk limit.

(a) The net retained liability of a title insurer for a single risk in regard to property, whether assumed directly or as reinsurance, shall not exceed the aggregate of 50% of surplus as regards policyholders, plus the statutory premium reserve less the company’s investment in title plants, all as shown in the most recent annual statement of the insurer on file with the Commissioner.

(b) For the purposes of this chapter:

(1) A single risk shall be the insured amount of any title insurance policy; provided, that, if 2 or more title insurance policies are issued simultaneously covering different estates in the same real property, a single risk shall be the sum of the insured amounts of all the title insurance policies.

(2) A policy under which a claim payment reduces the amount of insurance under one or more other title insurance policies shall be included in computing the single risk sum only to the extent that its amount exceeds the aggregate amount of the policy or policies whose amount of insurance is reduced.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2147, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2147 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.07. Admitted asset standards.

In determining the financial condition of a domestic title insurer doing business under this chapter, the general investment provisions of the Chapter 13A of this title [§  31-1371.01 et seq. ], shall apply; provided, that:

(1) An investment in a title plant or plants in an amount equal to the actual cost shall be allowed as an admitted asset for title insurers; and

(2) The aggregate amount of the investment shall not exceed the lesser of 20% of admitted assets or 40% of surplus to policyholders, as shown on the most recent annual statement of the title insurer on file with the Commissioner.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2148, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2148 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.08. Reserves.

(a) In determining the financial condition of a title insurer doing business under this chapter, the general provisions of the acts relating to insurance which are codified in this title requiring the establishment of reserves sufficient to cover all known and unknown liabilities, including allocated and unallocated loss adjustment expense, shall apply; provided, that a domestic title insurer shall establish and maintain:

(1) A known claim reserve in an amount estimated to be sufficient to cover all unpaid losses, claims, and allocated loss adjustment expenses arising under title insurance policies, guaranteed certificates of title, guaranteed searches, and guaranteed abstracts of title, and all unpaid losses, claims, and allocated loss adjustment expenses for which the title insurer may be liable, and for which the insurer has received notice by or on behalf of the insured, holder of a guarantee or escrow, or indemnity depositor; and

(2) A statutory or unearned premium reserve consisting of:

(A) The amount of statutory or unearned premium reserve required by the laws of the domiciliary state of the insurer if the insurer is a foreign or non-U.S. title insurer; or

(B) If the insurer is a domestic insurer of the District of Columbia:

(i) The amount of the statutory or unearned premium or reinsurance reserve on January 1, 2011, which balance shall be released in accordance with the law in effect at the time such sums were added to the reserve; and

(ii) Out of total charges for policies of title insurance written or assumed commencing with January 1, 2011, and until December 31, 2011, a title insurer shall add to, and set aside in, the reserve an amount equal to 8% of the sum of the following items set forth in the title insurer’s most recent annual statement on file with the Commissioner:

(I) Direct premiums written;

(II) Escrow and settlement service fees;

(III) Other title fees and service charges, including fees for closing protection letters; and

(IV) Premiums for reinsurance assumed, less premiums for reinsurance ceded during year.

(b) Additions to the reserve after January 1, 2011, shall be, made out of total charges for title insurance policies and guarantees written, equal to the sum of the following items, as set forth in the title insurer’s most recent annual statement on file with the Commissioner:

(1) For each title insurance policy on a single risk written or assumed after January 1, 2011, $0.36 per $1,000 of net retained liability for policies under $500,000 and $0.16 per $1,000 of net retained liability for policies of $500,000 or greater; and

(2) Eight percent of escrow, settlement, and closing fees collected in contemplation of the issuance of title insurance policies or guarantees.

(c) The aggregate of the amounts set aside in the reserve in any calendar year pursuant to subsections (a)(2)(B)(ii) and (b) of this section shall be released from the reserve and restored to net profits over a period of 20 years pursuant to the following formula:

(1) Thirty-five percent of the aggregate sum on July 1 of the year next succeeding the year of addition;

(2) Fifteen percent of the aggregate sum on July 1 of each of the succeeding 2 years;

(3) Ten percent of the aggregate sum on July 1 of the next succeeding year;

(4) Three percent of the aggregate sum on July 1 of each of the next 3 succeeding years;

(5) Two percent of the aggregate sum on July 1 of each of the next 3 succeeding years; and

(6) One percent of the aggregate sum on July 1 of each of the next succeeding 10 years.

(d) A supplemental reserve shall be established consisting of any other reserves necessary, when taken in combination with the reserves required by this section, to cover the company’s liabilities with respect to all losses, claims, and loss-adjusted expenses.

(e) A title insurer subject to the provisions of this chapter shall file with its annual statement required under Chapter 19 of this title [§ 31-1901 et seq.], a certification by a member in good standing of the American Academy of Actuaries. The actuarial certification required of a title insurer shall conform to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ annual statement instructions for title insurers.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2149, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2149 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.09. Liquidation, dissolution, or insolvency.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the IRLA shall apply to all domestic title insurers subject to this chapter. In applying the provisions of the IRLA, the court shall consider the unique aspects of title insurance and shall have broad authority to fashion relief that provides for the maximum protection of the title insurance policyholders.

(b) Indemnity and escrow funds held by or on behalf of the title insurer shall not become general assets and shall be administered as secured creditor claims as provided in the IRLA.

(c) Title insurance policies issued by a domestic title insurer that are in force at the time an order of liquidation is entered shall not be canceled except upon a showing to the court of good cause by the liquidator. The determination of good cause shall be within the discretion of the court. In making this determination, the court shall consider the unique aspects of title insurance and all other relevant circumstances.

(d) The court may set appropriate dates that potential claimants shall file their claims with the liquidator as to a domestic title insurer. The court may set different dates for claims based upon the title insurance policy than for all other claims. In setting dates, the court shall consider the unique aspects of title insurance and all other relevant circumstances.

(e) As of the date of the order of insolvency or liquidation, all premiums paid, due, or to become due under policies of the domestic title insurers shall be fully earned. It shall be the obligation of producers, insureds, or representatives of the title insurer to pay fully earned premium to the liquidator or rehabilitator.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2150, 57 DCR 6242; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-40, § 5(c), 60 DCR 12304.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-40 substituted “producers” for “agents” in (e).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2150 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.10. Restrictions on dividends.

A domestic title insurer shall only declare or distribute a dividend to shareholders without the prior written approval of the Commissioner as would be permitted under § 31-706, for insurers other than life insurers.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2151, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2151 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.11. Diversification requirement.

(a) Without the prior written approval of the Commissioner, a domestic title insurer shall not accept:

(1) Additional business from a title insurance producer that is not an affiliated company with the insurer if, when added to other business written through the title insurance producer during the same calendar year, that producer’s aggregate premiums written on behalf of the title insurer will exceed 20% of the title insurer’s gross premiums written during the prior calendar year, as shown on the title insurer’s most recent annual statement on file with the Commissioner; or

(2)(A) Additional direct operations business from a single source if, when added to other direct operations business from the single source during the same calendar year, the aggregate premiums written on the direct operations business of the single source will exceed 20% of the title insurer’s gross premiums written during the prior calendar year as shown on the title insurers most recent annual statement on file with the Commissioner.

(B) For purposes of this paragraph, the term “single source” means a person that refers business to the title insurer and any other person that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with, that person.

(b) In determining whether prior approval may be given, the Commissioner shall consider:

(1) The potential that the acceptance of more business from the title insurance producer or source may adversely affect the financial solidity of the title insurer;

(2) The availability of competing title agents or additional sources in the territories in which the title insurer accepts risks;

(3) The number of years that the title insurer has been in business;

(4) Reinsurance arrangements mitigating the concentration of business from the producer or source;

(5) The comparative profitability of the producer’s or source’s book of business;

(6) The degree of oversight of the producer’s operations exercised by the title insurer; and

(7) Any other circumstances considered by the Commissioner to be appropriate.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2152, 57 DCR 6242; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-40, § 5(d), 60 DCR 12304.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-40 substituted “producer” for “agent” and substituted “producer’s” for “agent’s” throughout the section.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2152 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.12. Direct operations and policyholder treatment.

(a) If a title insurance commitment includes an offer to issue an owner’s policy covering the resale of owner-occupied property, the title insurance commitment shall be furnished to the purchaser-mortgagor or its representative no later than the time of closing. If the report cannot be delivered prior to or at closing, the title insurer shall document the reasons for the delay. The title insurance commitment furnished to the purchaser-mortgagor shall incorporate the following statement on the 1st page in bold type:

“Please read the exceptions and the terms shown or referred to herein carefully. The exceptions are meant to provide you with notice of matters which are not covered under the terms of the title insurance policy and should be carefully considered.

“It is important to note that this form is not a written representation as to the condition of title and may not list all liens, defects, and encumbrances affecting title to the land.”

(b)(1) A title insurer issuing a lender’s title insurance policy in conjunction with a mortgage loan made simultaneously with the purchase of all or part of the owner-occupied property securing the loan, if no owner’s title insurance policy has been requested, shall give written notice, on a form prescribed or approved by the Commissioner, to the purchaser-mortgagor at the time the title insurance commitment is prepared. The notice shall explain:

(A) A lender’s title insurance policy is to be issued protecting the mortgage-lender;

(B) The policy does not provide title insurance protection to the purchaser-mortgagor as the owner of the property being purchased;

(C) What a title policy insures against and what possible exposures exist for the purchaser-mortgagor that could be insured against through the purchase of an owner’s policy; and

(D) The purchaser-mortgagor may obtain an owner’s title insurance policy protecting the property owner at a specified cost or approximate cost, if the proposed coverages or amount of insurance is not then known.

(2) A copy of the notice, signed by the purchaser-mortgagor, shall be retained in the relevant underwriting file at least 3 years after the effective date of the policy.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2153, 57 DCR 6242; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-40, § 5(e), 60 DCR 12304.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-40 deleted “residential” preceding “property” in (a) and (b)(1); substituted “no later than the time of closing” for “as soon as reasonably possible prior to closing” in (a); and substituted “3 years” for “5 years” in (b)(2).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2153 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.13. Duties of title insurers utilizing the services of title insurance producers.

(a) The title insurer shall not accept business from a title insurance producer unless there is in force a written contract between the parties which sets forth the responsibilities of each party and, if both parties share responsibility for a particular function, specifies the division of responsibilities.

(b) Repealed.

(c) The title insurer shall, at least annually, conduct an on-site review, or a review conducted electronically that would accomplish the functional equivalent of the same, of the underwriting, claims, and escrow practices of the title insurance producer which shall include a review of the producer’s policy blank inventory and processing operations. If the title insurance producer does not maintain separate bank or trust accounts for each title insurer it represents, the title insurer shall verify that the funds held on its behalf are reasonably ascertainable from the books of account and records of the title insurance producer.

(d) Within 30 days after executing or terminating a contract with a title insurance producer, the title insurer shall provide written notification of the appointment or termination and the reason for termination to the Commissioner. Notices of appointment of a title insurance producer shall be made on a form promulgated by the Commissioner.

(e) A domestic title insurer shall not appoint to its board of directors an officer, director, employee, controlling shareholder, or any title insurance producer who wrote 1% or more of the title insurer’s direct premiums written during the previous calendar year as shown on the title insurer’s most recent annual statement on file with the Commissioner. This subsection shall not apply to relationships governed by Chapter 7 of this title [§ 31-701 et seq.].

(f) The title insurer shall maintain an inventory of all policy forms or policy numbers allocated to each title insurance producer.

(g) The title insurer shall have on file proof that the title insurance producer is licensed in the District.

(h) The title insurer shall establish the underwriting guidelines and, if applicable, limitations on title claims settlement authority to be incorporated into contracts with its title insurance producers.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2154, 57 DCR 6242; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-40, § 5(f), 60 DCR 12304.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by Law 20-40 repealed (b); and substituted “producer” for “agent” in (e).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2154 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.14. Conditions for maintaining escrow and indemnity deposit accounts.

(a) A title insurer may operate as an escrow, indemnity, settlement, or closing agent, if:

(1) All funds deposited with the title insurer in connection with any escrow, settlement, closing, or indemnity deposit shall be submitted for collection to or deposited in a fiduciary trust account in a qualified financial institution no later than the close of the next business day in accordance with the following requirements:

(A) The funds shall be the property of the person entitled to them under the provisions of the escrow, settlement, indemnity deposit, or closing agreement and shall be segregated for each depository by escrow, settlement, indemnity deposit, or closing in the records of the title insurer in a manner that permits the funds to be identified on an individual basis; and

(B) The funds shall be applied only in accordance with the terms of the individual instructions or agreements under which the funds were accepted.

(b) Funds held in an escrow account shall be disbursed only pursuant to a written instruction or agreement specifying how and to whom the funds may be disbursed.

(c) Funds held in an indemnity deposit account shall be disbursed only pursuant to a written agreement specifying:

(1) What actions the indemnitor shall take to satisfy his or her obligation under the agreement;

(2) The duties of the title insurer with respect to disposition of the funds held, including a requirement to maintain evidence of the disposition of the title exception before any balance may be paid over to the depositing party or his or her designee; and

(3) Any other provisions the Commissioner may require.

(d) Any interest received on funds deposited in connection with any escrow, settlement, indemnity deposit, or closing shall be paid, net of administrative costs, to the depositing party, unless the depositor’s instructions for the funds or a governing law provides otherwise.

(e) Disbursements may be made out of an escrow, settlement, or closing account only if deposits in amounts at least equal to the disbursement have first been made directly relating to the transaction disbursed against and if the deposits are in one of the following forms:

(1) Cash;

(2) Wire transfers such that the funds are unconditionally received by the title insurer or the insurer’s depository;

(3) Checks, drafts, negotiable orders of withdrawal, money orders, and any other item that has been finally paid before any disbursements; provided, that a title insurer may accept a check in an amount not to exceed $3,000 that has not been finally paid before any disbursements;

(4) A depository check, including a certified check, governed by the provisions of the Expedited Funds Availability Act, approved August 10, 1987 (101 Stat. 635; 12 U.S.C. § 4001 et seq.); or

(5) Credit transfers through the Automated Clearing House which have been deemed available by the depository institution receiving the credits transfers and conform to the operating rules set forth by the National Automated Clearing House Association.

(f) This chapter shall not:

(1) Prohibit the recording of documents prior to the time funds are available for disbursement with respect to a transaction; provided, that all parties consent to the transaction in writing; or

(2) Amend, alter, or supersede other sections of this chapter, or the laws of the District of Columbia or the United States, regarding an escrow holder’s duties and obligations.

(g) The Commissioner may prescribe a standard agreement for escrow, settlement, closing, or indemnity deposit funds.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2155, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2155 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.15. Prohibition of rebate and fee splitting.

A title insurer or other person shall not give or receive, directly or indirectly, any consideration for the referral of title insurance business or escrow or other service provided by a title insurer.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2156, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2156 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.16. Favored producer of title insurer; buyer’s right to choose.

(a) A title insurer shall not participate in any transaction in which it knows that a title insurance producer or other person requires, directly or indirectly, or through any trustee, director, officer, producer, employee, or affiliate, as a condition precedent to selling or furnishing any other person a loan, or loan extension, credit, sale, property, contract, lease, or service, that the other person shall place a title insurance policy of any kind with the title insurer or through a particular title insurance producer.

(b) No seller of property shall require, directly or indirectly, that the buyer purchase title insurance from any particular title producer or insurer.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2157, 57 DCR 6242; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-40, § 5(g), 60 DCR 12304.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by DC Law 20-40 designated the existing text as (a); substituted “producer” for “agent” throughout (a); and added (b).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2157 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.17. Premium rate filings and standards.

(a) A title insurer or title insurance producer may charge any rates regulated by the District of Columbia after January 1, 2011; provided, that in accordance with the premium rate schedule and manual filed by the title insurer with and approved by the Commissioner in accordance with applicable law and rules governing rate filings. The Commissioner may provide, by rule, for interim use of premium rate schedules in effect prior to January 1, 2011.

(b) The Commissioner may establish rules, including rules providing statistical plans, for use by all title insurers and title insurance producers in the recording and reporting of revenue, loss, and expense experience in such form and detail as is necessary to aid him or her in the establishment of rates and fees.

(c) The Commissioner may require that the information provided under this section be verified by oath of the insurer’s or title insurance producer’s president or vice president or secretary or actuary, as applicable. The Commissioner may further require that the information required under this section be subject to an audit conducted by an independent certified public accountant. The Commissioner may establish a minimum threshold level at which an audit would be required.

(d) Information filed with the Commissioner relating to the experience of a particular producer shall be kept confidential, subject to subchapter II of Chapter 5 of Title 2 [§ 2-531 et seq.].


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2158, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2158 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.18. Form filing.

(a)(1) The Commissioner may require that all policy forms used by every company covering title risks in the District be filed with the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall have authority to disapprove, within 60 days after the date of the receipt of a filing, the use in the District of any policy form which is inequitable, or does not comply with District law.

(2) If a policy form is not disapproved for use within the 60-day period described in paragraph (1) of this subsection, the Commissioner may not disapprove the form for use unless it does not comply with District law.

(b) Forms covered by this section shall include:

(1) Title insurance policies, including standard form endorsements;

(2) Title insurance commitments issued prior to the issuance of a title insurance policy; and

(3) Closing protection letters.

(c) After notice and opportunity to be heard are given to the insurer or rate service organization which submitted a form for approval, the Commissioner may withdraw approval of the form on finding that the use of the form is contrary to the legal requirements applicable at the time of withdrawal. The effective date of withdrawal of approval shall not be less than 90 days after notice of withdrawal is given.

(d) An approved policy form or endorsement providing coverage for which no identifiable premium is assessed may be incorporated into every applicable title insurance policy. The insurer shall disclose any additional coverage to the insured. The provisions of this section shall not operate to eliminate any underwriting standard of conditions relating to the approved policy forms or endorsements.

(e) Any term or condition related to an insurance coverage provided by an approved title insurance policy or any exception to the coverage, except those ascertained from a search and examination of records relating to a title or inspection or survey of a property to be insured, shall only be included in the policy after the term, condition, or exception has been filed with the Commissioner and approved.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2159, 57 DCR 6242; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-40, § 5(h), 60 DCR 12304.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 31-5031.04.

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-40 rewrote (a).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2159 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.19. Filing by rating bureaus.

(a) A title insurer may satisfy its obligation to file premium rates, rating manuals, and forms as required by this chapter if:

(1) It becomes a member of, or a subscriber to, a rate service organization, organized and licensed under the provisions of acts relating to insurance which are codified in this title;

(2) The rate service organization makes the filings; and

(3) It authorizes the Commissioner in writing to accept the filings on the title insurer’s behalf.

(b) This chapter shall not:

(1) Require any title insurer to become a member of, or a subscriber to, any rate service organization; and

(2) Prohibit the filing of deviations from rate service organization filings by any member or subscriber.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2160, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2160 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.20. Record retention requirements.

Evidence of the examination of title and determination of insurability for business written by a title insurer or title insurance producer and records relating to escrow and indemnity deposits shall be preserved and retained by the insurer or producer for as long as appropriate to the circumstances but not less than 3 years after the title insurance policy has been issued or 3 years after the escrow or indemnity deposit account has been closed. This section shall not apply to a title insurer acting as coinsurer if one of the other coinsurers has complied with this section.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2161, 57 DCR 6242; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-40, § 5(i), 60 DCR 12304.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-40 substituted “insurer or producer” for “insurer or agent” in the first sentence.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2161 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.21. Penalties and liabilities.

(a) If the Commissioner determines that the title insurer or any other person has violated this chapter, or any rule or order promulgated under this chapter, after notice and opportunity to be heard, the Commissioner may order:

(1) A penalty not exceeding $2,500 for the 1st violation;

(2) A penalty not exceeding $5,000 for each successive violation; and

(3) Revocation or suspension of the title insurer’s license.

(b) This section shall affect the right of the Commissioner to impose any other penalties provided for in any acts relating to insurance which are codified in this title.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2162, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2162 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.22. Violations of Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”).

The Commissioner or Attorney General may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin or seek remedies for violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974, approved December 23, 1974 (88 Stat. 1724; 12 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.).


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2163, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2163 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.23. Rules; orders.

(a) The Commissioner, through the Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2 [§ 2-501 et seq.], may issue rules to implement the provisions of this chapter.

(b) The Commissioner may issue orders to implement the provisions of this chapter.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2164, 57 DCR 6242.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 31-5031.04.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2164 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).


§ 31–5031.24. Applicability; construction.

(a) This chapter shall:

(1) Apply to all persons engaged in the business of title insurance in the District; and

(2) Supplement the provisions of Chapter 25 of this title [§ 31-2501.01 et seq.].

(b) This chapter shall not:

(1) Except as otherwise provided, limit the application of any acts relating to insurance which are codified in this title; or

(2) Limit or restrict the rights of policyholders, claimants, and creditors.

(c) If there is a conflict between a provision of this chapter and any provision in an act relating to insurance which is codified in this title, Chapter 25 of this title [§ 31-2501.01 et seq.], this chapter shall apply.

(d) This chapter shall apply as of January 1, 2011 and to all transactions entered into after January 1, 2011.


(Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2165, 57 DCR 6242.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2165 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).