Posts

Showing posts from August 10, 2008

Insurance commissioner monitoring Mercury Cos. deal

The Colorado Division of Insurance is monitoring the sale of Mercury Cos.’ Colorado businesses to ensure that consumers are protected, state officials said Friday.On Aug. 5, Denver-based Mercury Cos. announced that it had sold four local title insurance agencies — Security Title Guaranty Co., United Title Co., First American Heritage Title and Title America Inc. — to Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. of Jacksonville, Fla., a major nationwide underwriter.The sale occurred just days after Mercury closed operations in California, Arizona and Texas.“Our goal is to work with the new owners and the title agencies to ensure consumers’ rights are protected,” Marcy Morrison, the state insurance commissioner, said in a statement. “Purchasing a home, and securing the title to that home, is an important step for anyone, and the Division of Insurance is committed to making sure that the consumers’ interests remain intact during the transition. In the best-case scenario — a smooth transfer of f…

Real Estate and Credit Woes Take Toll on Title Insurers: Report

In some ways, the title insurance business isn’t really all that complex. Revenues depend primarily on just two inter-related factors: the level of house prices, and the demand for housing. And, of course, both are suffering in one of the worst housing corrections in U.S. history thus far — lower prices and shrinking demand have helped push transaction volumes down dramatically for anyone in the business of underwriting title insurance policies. All of which leads to the obvious conclusion: the ability of title insurers to control expenses in a declining revenue environment is critical to maintaining profitability. And those companies that possess a flexible cost structure, are more proactive in expense management and have access to capital can expect to weather the current down cycle better than others, according to an assessment released Monday by A.M. Best Company.
Title insurance isn’t a highly-fragmented industry, either: five national writers control nearly 95 percent of industry …

A.M. Best Special Report: Real Estate and Credit Woes Take Toll on Title Insurers

Title insurance revenues depend on both the level of house prices and the demand for housing. Thus, the ongoing slowdown in real estate activity combined with tightening mortgage market conditions and the worsening U.S. economy have been a significant drag on the title industry's revenues.

The ability of title insurers to control expenses in a declining revenue environment is critical to maintaining profitability. Thus, those companies that possess a flexible cost structure, are more proactive in expense management and have access to capital can expect to weather the current down cycle better than others. This dynamic will influence the course of A.M. Best's future rating actions as the industry works its way through the current challenging environment.

The outlook for the title insurance industry for the balance of 2008 and for 2009 remains negative, and any improvement will depend largely on the length and depth of the housing downturn.

-- Direct prem…