The nation’s largest title insurance underwriter, Fidelity National Financial Inc., recently reported that direct orders closed rose from 120,500 in January to 141,900 in February, and hit 166,200 in March. Those numbers include Fidelity’s new underwriting subsidiaries — Lawyers Title Insurance Corp., Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co., and United Capital Title Insurance Co. — acquired from bankrupt LandAmerica Financial Group in December.
ALTA’s preliminary analysis shows underwriters now under Fidelity’s umbrella held a 45 percent market share during 2008, followed by companies owned by by First American Corp. (28.9 percent), Stewart Title Guaranty Co. (12.6 percent) and Old Republic International Corp. (5.7 percent).
With the demise of LandAmerica, the four largest title insurance underwriters control 92 percent of the market — making title insurance a "highly concentrated" industry, according to one measurement technique employed by the Department of Justice to analyze whether mergers will produce anticompetitive markets (see story).
ALTA’s analysis showed regional title companies accounted for the remaining 7.8 percent market share. The five biggest regional title companies were Attorney’s Title Insurance Fund, with 2 percent market share; Title Resources Guaranty Co. (1.1 percent); North American Title Insurance Co. (0.7 percent), Investors Title Insurance Co. (0.6 percent), and Westcor Land Title Insurance (0.5 percent).
During the fourth quarter of 2008, underwriters currently owned by Fidelity saw their collective market share slip 1.39 percent from a year ago, and First American’s underwriters saw market share shrink by 0.5 percent. Collectively, regional title companies also lost 0.5 percent market share.
Gaining ground were companies in the Stewart family, whose collective slice of the market grew 0.8 percent, and Old Republic, which added 0.6 percent market share.
Fidelity could see further erosion of its market share this year, having recently warned investors that LandAmerica’s underwriters suffered from a "loss of business momentum" as a result of their parent company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on Nov. 26.
Fidelity also disclosed that through the end of March it had fired 2,068 of the 5,500 workers formerly employed by LandAmerica’s subsidiaries, and closed 216 of the 500 direct title offices it acquired in the acquisition, achieving $231 million in annual savings (see story).
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