California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi is expected to announce today that he is taking steps to make title insurers cut the rates paid by California homeowners. Garamendi plans to hold hearings to examine title insurance premiums and, based on an upcoming study, expects "in the coming months to issue orders directing rates to be lowered to the levels at which they would be were this a competitive market." Garamendi is expected to release the study today, a 111-page report that concludes that three insurers control 75 percent of the state's title insurance market. "The report confirms that California homeowners and home buyers are being systematically overcharged because title insurers refused to compete with one another on the basis of low prices," Garamendi said. The report was authored by Texas insurance economist Birny Birnbaum. "These overcharges operate like a tax on home purchases and refinancing, pricing people out of the market and acting as a drag on the economy," G...
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