The third quarter 2011 market share report from the American
Land Title Association revealed that 39 regional underwriters held 11.8
percent of the total market share across the country. That still
doesn’t match the lowest market share percentage among the big four —
Old Republic International with 13 percent. Regional underwriters are
slicing slivers of an already small piece of pie, but as those we spoke
to pointed out, some times it’s not the size of the pie, but rather the
quality of the ingredients that matter.
Before discussing all of the value propositions regional
underwriters present for title agents, we need to start with a
disclaimer: Not all regional underwriters are created equal, and it’s
unfair to group them together across the board — a point that was made
several times by those we spoke to for this article.
“All regionals aren’t McDonalds — they are not cookie cutters,” said Carole Brown,
state manager for Security Title Guarantee Corp. of Baltimore. Brown
has worked as a consultant for many regional underwriters, primarily
within agency relations, and still closes deals herself. “Each
[regional] I’ve worked for has had different strengths and weaknesses
and categorizing them all together penalizes some and gives credit to
others that don’t deserve it.”
It sounds obvious, but lumping all of the regional
underwriters together is easily done. This is especially important
considering what happened in 2011, with New Jersey Title Insurance Co.
and Southern Title Insurance Corp. shutting off new business. We asked
the question at the time: Are you concerned about the state of regional
underwriters? And many respondents said yes, even though the unfortunate
problems of one company should not cast doubt on another.
“Look at each company individually — the agent makeup, the
quality of the agent portfolio and the policies and procedures,” said David Townsend,
president and chief executive officer for Agents National Title
Insurance Co. “The national companies are going to do what they need to
do. We can just continue to get stronger and prove that we’re no greater
risk and probably a better risk than a lot of them as far as quality of