With California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner on hand to lend support, the California Land Title Association rolled out a new Web site Tuesday that the industry group said would help consumers shop for the best deal on title insurance.
At this time a year ago, groups representing title and escrow companies were doing battle with Poizner’s predecessor, John Garamendi, and his proposal to roll back rates by $1 billion and impose rate caps based on the companies’ expenses.
Like Garamendi, Poizner has said title insurers have marketed their product not to consumers, but primarily those who can refer business to them — Realtors, lenders and builders. But Poizner has pushed back any implementation of rate caps to 2011, saying he wants to give the industry a chance to reform itself.
The Web site unveiled today, TitleWizard, is a centerpiece of the industry’s efforts to increase competition by marketing to consumers, rather than real estate professionals. The site allows users to find local title companies and compare their rates and services.
TitleWizard‘s rate-generating software delivers comparisons that are specific to each transaction, and user data is not shared with any title company or third party, CLTA said in a press release. Information on rates is accurate and current because it is supplied by CLTA members, the group said. TitleWizard, developed by La Jolla, Calif.-based ClosingCorp Inc., is also intended to educate consumers about the closing process.
The site asks users for their ZIP code, purchase price, loan amount and property type. A TitleWizard query for a title insurance policy on a $600,000 property in Alameda County generated quotes from eight companies, ranging from $621 to $706.
Poizner thought enough of the TitleWizard site to participate in a press conference where it was unveiled, issuing a statement calling the site “a first step to infuse competition into the title insurance industry.”
CLTA President Margaret Foster said the group share’s Poizner’s goal “of using creative technological solutions that empower consumers. TitleWizard will help Californians take advantage of comprehensive and accurate marketplace information.”