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Title insurance regulator considers rate-cap alternatives

California's Poizner likes Web site for comparison shopping

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SAN FRANCISCO -- A proposal to cap title insurance rates is not California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner's "first instinct" for remedying an alleged lack of competition in the industry, but the plan by his predecessor has served as an incentive for further negotiations, he said. Speaking in San Francisco at the California Land Title Association's annual convention (see video), Poizner said it's the practice of marketing title insurance products and services to real estate agents, mortgage lenders and builders rather than consumers that's at the crux of controversies plaguing the industry. Title insurers have come under fire for allegedly paying kickbacks and incentives to real estate professionals who refer business to them. Some have also run afoul of regulators for forming "sham" affiliated business arrangements, partnerships that provide companies in the real estate business a cut of the action for providing referrals.    Title insurers, Poizner said, are "partly t...