Each licensed title insurance agency must pay $200 as an administrative surcharge by the end of January each and every year. Failure to pay this amount can result in administrative action and/or a fine being assessed against the license of the title agency.
Fines for failing to pay the surcharge start at $500 for the first occurrence and increase each time the agency fails to timely pay the annual surcharge. Agencies that fail to pay the surcharge may have their license and appointments suspended until the surcharge and fines are paid.
Surcharge payments must be accompanied by the invoice in order for the funds to be properly credited to the title agency's record. Payments must be paid online via the title agency's MyProfile account.
A title agency "…shall not adopt a name which contains the words "title insurance," "title guaranty," or "title guarantee," unless such words are followed by the word "agent" or "agency" in the same size and type as the words preceding them…" Please see section 626.8413, F.S.
Florida law requires that a title agency must have a designated agent in charge. The agent in charge for a title agency must be a licensed and appointed title agent or an attorney in good standing with the Florida Bar.
Title agencies do not require branch licenses. The license of the main office may be used for each branch location, which means that a violation discovered at one branch could affect all the locations. In addition, each branch location that does title insurance work must designate an agent-in-charge and notify the department of the identity of the person designated.
Branch offices that perform closings only do not need to be licensed and do not need a licensed agent at that location.
A title insurance agency is required to carry errors and omissions insurance in an amount acceptable to the insurer appointing the agency. The amount of coverage may not be less than $250,000 per claim with a deductible no greater than $10,000. Please see 626.8419(1)(b), F.S.
A title insurance agent may engage in business as an escrow agent as to funds received from others to be subsequently disbursed by the title insurance agent in connection with real estate closing transactions involving the issuance of title insurance binders, commitments, policies of title insurance, or guarantees of title, provided that a licensed and appointed title insurance agent complies with the requirements of section 626.8417, F.S., including such requirements added after the initial licensure of the agent.
All funds received by a title insurance agent as escrow funds shall be trust funds received in a fiduciary capacity by the title insurance agent and shall be the property of the person or persons entitled thereto.
All funds received by a title insurance agent to be held in trust shall be immediately placed in a financial institution that is located within this state and is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. These funds shall be invested in an account in accordance with the investment requirements and standards established for deposits and investments of state funds in section 17.57, F.S., where the funds shall be kept until disbursement thereof is properly authorized.
Funds required to be maintained in escrow trust accounts pursuant to this section shall not be subject to any debts of the title insurance agent and shall be used only in accordance with the terms of the individual, escrow, settlement, or closing instructions under which the funds were accepted.
Both title insurance agents and agencies shall maintain separate records of all receipts and disbursements of escrow, settlement, or closing funds.
In the event that the department promulgates rules necessary to implement the requirements of this section pursuant to section 624.308, F.S., the department shall consider reasonable standards necessary for the protection of funds held in trust, including, but not limited to, standards for accounting of funds, standards for receipt and disbursement of funds, and protection for the person or persons to whom the funds are to be disbursed. Please see: 626.8473, F.S.
Title insurance agencies must obtain a fidelity bond in an amount not less than $50,000 and acceptable to the insurer appointing the agency. See: 626.8419(1)(a), F.S. The Department does not maintain a copy of this bond as part of the agency’s license file.
The Florida Statutes defines closing services as the services performed by a licensed title insurer, title insurance agent or agency, or attorney agent in the agent’s or agency's capacity as such, including, but not limited to, preparing documents necessary to close the transaction, conducting the closing, or handling the disbursing of funds related to the closing in a real estate closing transaction in which a title insurance commitment or policy is to be issued.
This means the closing services fee listed on the settlement statement form is to include all the fees and charges made by the agency to close and complete the transaction. Consumers should not be charged additional fees in addition to the amount listed as the closing or settlement services fee on the HUD-1 or other settlement statement form.
Examples of fees that should not be listed as separate line items on the form include, but are not limited to:
Agencies that charge additional fees as separate line items may be found to be engaging in deceptive practices against Florida consumers in violation of the Florida Statutes. The penalty for violations such as this can be as strong as suspending or revoking the license of the agent and the agency involved in the practice. Agencies may provide consumers with an itemized listing of the fees and charges that comprise the closing services fee being charged. This itemized listing would be in addition to the settlement statement (HUD-1) form and the amounts included would need to total to the same number listed on the settlement statement form as the closing services fee.
No other charges are authorized by the Florida Statutes to be charged by a title insurance agent or agency for these services.
The unlawful withholding of moneys belonging to insurers, insureds, beneficiaries, or to others and received in the conduct of business under your license or appointments. An example would be the failure to forward applications and premium to the insurance company or the company’s MGA, thus leaving the insureds without coverage. Another form of mishandling fiduciary funds is the licensee’s failure to return unearned premiums or commissions to an insured due to an early cancellation of coverage, or similar reason. Section section 626.611(10), F.S.
A title insurance agency is required to obtain a surety bond in an amount not less than $35,000 made payable to the title insurer or title insurers appointing the agency. The surety bond must be for the benefit of any appointing title insurer damaged by a violation by the title insurance agency of its contract with the appointing title insurer. If the surety bond is payable to multiple title insurers, the surety bond must provide that each title insurer is to be notified in the event a claim is made upon the surety bond or the bond is terminated. The surety bond must remain in effect and unimpaired as long as the agency is appointed by a title insurer. The agency must provide written proof to the appointing title insurer or insurers on an annual basis evidencing that the surety bond is still in effect and unimpaired. See section 626.8419, F.S.