So, you’re thinking about opening a
title insurance agency. Well, before you
open the doors for the first time, a review
of the laws and rules affecting insurance
representatives and the operation of Florida
title agencies could be very beneficial to
you. After all, you want to maintain a
successful title agency. Insurance laws are
located in Title XXXVII of the Florida Statutes and
in Chapters 69B and 69O of the Florida Administrative Code.
Here’s a quick overview of laws and procedures that new (and not-so-new) agents frequently inquire about, along with the applicable cites, for opening a title insurance agency. If that's not for you, maybe you want to check out the guidelines for opening major lines insurance agencies - bail bond agencies and adjusting firms coming soon.
Florida law prevents you from naming your agency anything that would be misleading or deceptive in any way. Names chosen should not imply that the agency is an insurance company, governmental agency, or any other national or state organization. We will not allow any agency to use a name that does not meet this criteria. If you use the words "title insurance," "title guaranty," or "title guarantee" in your agency's name, you must follow it with the word "agency" in the same size and font. [s. 626.602 and 626.8413, F.S.]
No individual or business can act as a title insurance agency unless it possesses a title insurance agency license. You apply for a license through MyProfile after creating an account using the agency's information (Federal Employer Identification Number, etc.). [s. 626.8411, 626.8412, and 626.8418, F.S.]
Title insurance 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 (see below) and notify us of the identity of the person designated. Offices that perform closings only do not need to be licensed and do not need a licensed title agent at that location.
You can download forms on our web site, www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Agents. Any completed form should be submitted to the address or fax number listed on the form.
The agent-in-charge for a title insurance agency must be a licensed and appointed title agent or an attorney in good standing with the Florida Bar. You designate your agent-in-charge when you apply for licensure through the agency's MyProfile account. [s. 626.172 and 626.0428, F.S.]
On a related matter, you are required you to notify us within 30 days if you or the agency have a change in name, address (including e-mail), or telephone number. This is quickly and easily done by logging in to the MyProfile account for you or the agency. Don't forget to log in for both if both have changes to be made! [s. 626.551, F.S.]
Your agency license does NOT authorize you to transact insurance. A license is issued when an applicant meets all of the eligibility requirements mandated by the statutes; however, authority to transact insurance is not established until you are appointed by the insurance company or companies. [s. 626.8412, F.S.]
Before you can be appointed by a title insurance company, you will need to obtain three things: 1) a fidelity bond in an amount, not less than $50,000, acceptable to the title insurance company; 2) errors and omissions insurance in an amount acceptable to the title insurance company in an amount not less than $250,000 per claim and an aggregate limit with a deductible no greater than $10,000; and 3) 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. [s. 626.8419, F.S.]
Each licensed title insurance agency must pay $200 as an administrative surcharge by the end of January every year. Failure to pay this amount can result in administrative action and/or a fine being assessed against the license of the title insurance agency. You will be e-mailed an invoice at the beginning of January that will have instructions on paying the surcharge.
Each title insurance agency licensed to do business in this state shall maintain and submit information, including revenue, loss, and expense data to the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to assist in the analysis of title insurance premium rates, title search costs, and the condition of the title insurance industry in this state. This information must be transmitted to the office annually after the reporting year.
The report is to be submitted no later than May 31 and it is to include the information collected from January 1 through December 31 for each title insurance agency from the prior year. Failure to submit the data required timely could result in the suspension of that title agency's license.
Additional information about the title data call may be found on the website for the Office of Insurance Regulation at https://www.floir.com/Office/Reporting.aspx#Title.
Florida Statute sections
626.561 Reporting and accounting for funds
626.8473 Escrow; trust fund
627.780 Illegal dealings in premium
Florida Administrative Code rules
69B-222 Unlicensed insurance personnel
69B-186.008 Escrow Disbursements
69B-186.010 Escrow Requirements
69O-186.003 Title Insurance Rates
69O-186.008 Escrow Requirements
69O-186.009 Reconciliation of Escrow Accounts
69O-186.013 Title Insurance Statistical Gathering
You can find all this information, any more, online such as the Florida Statutes and Administrative Code (rules). Our web address is www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Agents. Be sure to check out the various Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we have received and provided answers to help guide you, such as one especially for title insurance.