Industry News

Washington state continues crackdown on title insurers

Four companies face fines over alleged incentives

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Four title insurers in Washington state face nearly $300,000 in fines after being accused by the state's Insurance Commission of violating a rule that limits annual spending on gifts and other inducements to $25 per person. While many of the offenses involved small expenditures, Washington state regulators appear determined to enforce the letter of the law in their third action against title insurers since an investigation conducted in 2005 and 2006 found "widespread, pervasive and routine use of illegal spending to steer business to their companies." Last month, Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced he would seek $1.95 million in fines from Stewart Title Guaranty Co. for 195 alleged violations of the $25-per-person, per-year rule. Stewart Title has requested a hearing on the allegations. The alleged violations in the latest probe include one title insurer's purchase of $37.45 worth of candy, and $40 spent on raffle tickets for a John L. Scott C...