Missouri regulators have initiated enforcement actions against 16 title insurance agencies accused of charging rates not approved by the state and misrepresenting to consumers the actual cost of a policy.

Ten of the companies hit with administrative complaints by the Missouri Department of Insurance last week are also accused of using unfair rate schemes that resulted in higher charges for less knowledgeable customers. Two of those companies are suspected of using rebates or kickbacks to drum up business.

The title insurance agencies were given 15 days to request hearings to respond to the charges, which stemmed from a series of onsite investigations launched Oct. 24. 

Robert Mecfessel, president of the Missouri Land Title Association, told the St. Louis Dispatch that the title insurance agencies had not violated the law or acted unethically.

“It’s our belief that the law is ambiguous and confusing and subject to various interpretations by the companies and the department,” Mecfessel said.

The Missouri Department of Insurance backs legislation to reform the industry, citing the closure of five title insurance agencies in a two-year period as evidence that stricter regulations are needed. In at least three instances, title agencies closed their doors when company owners or executives were convicted of raiding escrow accounts and sentenced to prison.

SB 953, a bill that would have restricted the practice of co-mingling escrow accounts, required title insurance companies to perform yearly audits of title insurance agencies, and authorized the department to enforce the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), passed the Missouri House in May on a 154-2 vote but was delayed by a Senate filibuster.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription