LandAmerica Financial Group, the third-largest American title insurer, last week said it settled a Virginia regulator’s investigation into alleged payments to real estate developers and lenders, without disclosing the terms of the settlement.

LandAmerica did not admit liability in the settlement, which followed agreements in California and Arizona last year, the company said in a regulatory filing last Thursday, according to reports.

“We are pleased to have worked collaboratively with Virginia state regulators to resolve the matter,” said Peter Habanecht, a LandAmerica spokesman. “LandAmerica is committed to adhering to the highest standards of business practice.”

The title insurance industry came under an intense spotlight last year after Colorado’s Insurance Division in February 2005 investigated nine Colorado title insurers for alleged kickback schemes said to result in overcharges to consumers. The probe sparked dozens of investigations nationwide, in Florida, Washington, Hawaii, California, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Washington and other states.

On March 2, New York’s attorney general and insurance department announced that they are investigating national title insurance companies for suspected illegal kickbacks, the insurance department confirmed today.

Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has asked that watchdog agency the Government Accountability Office investigate the title insurance industry.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to janis@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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