Company management monitors its American Land Title Association Policy Forms License and business registrations for all states in which it conducts business (licenses and registrations are procured and renewed by the Company’s corporate parent – ET Investments, LLC).
Company management monitors and maintains “Resident Producer” licenses for Unified Title Company LLC and Unified Title Company of Northern Colorado, LLC.
Employees in the following groups are required to have Colorado title insurance producer licenses: (1) those that sell, solicit, or negotiate title insurance; (2) those that sign title insurance commitments; and (3) those that sign title insurance policies. The Company encourages all full-time employees to obtain a producer license.
The Company requires that employees accumulate ten (10) credit hours per year of continuing education. At least four (4) hours must relate specifically to title insurance. The other six (6) must be real estate industry related, but need not be specific to the business of title insurance.
ACH blocks are placed on all escrow/trust accounts.
“Positive Pay” is used on escrow/trust accounts at the discretion of Management. Managers of those offices that utilize positive pay review and reconcile the exception report daily.
Training is provided at the time of hire to all employees involved in the handling fiduciary funds. Additional training is available upon request, or as circumstances dictate (e.g., changes to procedures, system upgrades).
Managers approve those employees authorized to sign checks and initiate and/or approve wires drawn on escrow/trust accounts. The authority of an employee to sign checks and/or initiate or approve wires is revoked immediately upon resignation or termination. Keys used to access check stock and/or tokens used to access online accounts are immediately collected from the employee.
Background checks, both credit and criminal, are performed on all employees at the time of hire and every two years thereafter.
Comprehensive file audits are conducted by office Managers at least annually. Targeted “mini-audits” may be conducted more frequently at the discretion of Management. Files are audited to ensure: (1) disbursements match settlement statements; (2) receipts equal disbursements; (3) all disbursements have cleared; and (4) files are properly documented (e.g., copies of disbursement checks).
Account Controls – Holding Fiduciary Funds
Fiduciary funds are deposited within one business day of receipt. Managers monitor a daily report (Receipts in Transit) that tracks variance between funds posted to a file and funds actually deposited. Items on the report are immediately investigated and cleared.
All fiduciary funds accounts are appropriately designated as “escrow” or “trust” accounts. This designation is noted in bank agreements and on bank statements, disbursement checks and deposit slips. Unless directed by a customer with a signed agreement, escrow/trust accounts are maintained with federally insured financial institutions.
Managers monitor a daily report (Trial Balance) that shows all files with a balance. Monitoring is done in order to: (1) identify irregularities that merit further investigation; (2) ensure that files with a balance should have a balance (e.g., a live contract supports an earnest money deposit) and are properly documented; and (3) ensure that all closed files are fully disbursed.
Managers and the Accounting Department of ET monitor a detailed daily report that reconciles the trial balance, book balance and bank balance of each escrow/trust account (Three-Way Reconciliation). Each month, the Company president reviews and signs off on the report.
Account Controls – Closing Receipts & Disbursements
All funds disbursed to satisfy liens against insured property must be delivered in hand, delivered by overnight courier, or wired. All funds disbursed in excess of $10,000.00 must be delivered in hand, delivered by overnight courier, or wired.
Checks originating from offices with more than 5 employees must have two signatures. Smaller offices may issue checks with a single signature with prior Management approval. All escrow/trust accounts are configured to require dual custody (initiation and approval) for outgoing wires. Wire initiation and approval limits for each employee are set by Management.
Account Controls – Post-Closing
Signed escrow instructions are collected by the Company as a part of closing for files that are not fully disbursed on the date of settlement. All escrow instructions include a date certain end-date and files are flagged for follow-up in accordance with the terms and conditions of the escrow.
PRIVACY & INFORMATION SECURITY
The Company has an Information Security Policy and a Disaster Management Plan. Copies are provided to all employees at the time of hire and employees acknowledge in writing that they have read and understand both.
Non-public personal information (“NPI”) collected by the Company in the normal course of its business resides on secure file servers. The Company does not save paper files, nor warehouse NPI on external hard drives, compact discs, flash drives or other removable media devices.
While in the Company’s custody and not in use, paper documents containing NPI (e.g., tax reporting forms, loan applications) are stored in locked cabinets and/or locked offices.
When paper documents leave the custody of the Company (e.g., mail out closings, the return of signed loan packages to lenders), delivery is handled by a bonded local courier service, or by a national overnight mail service. Daily outgoing mail is collected in secure mail bins.
Electronic delivery of documents containing NPI (e.g., e-mail closings) is handled via secure e-mail.
Disposal of NPI
Offices utilize shredding machines and/or employ 3rd party vendors to shred paper. Paper earmarked for vendor shredding is deposited into large secure shredding bins. On-site shredding is preferred, but a Manager may approve off-site shredding if the vendor is appropriately bonded and insured and there is an auditable chain of custody from pick-up to destruction.
3rd party vendors utilized by the Company are not permitted access to any documents or systems containing NPI, unless their own NPI security measures are deemed satisfactory by Management.
If a security breach occurs, whether suffered by the Company or a 3rd party vendor, proper notification is provided to consumers and law enforcement in accordance with the Company’s Information Security Policy and/or Disaster Management Plan.
TITLE & SETTLEMENT PRICING / DOCUMENT RECORDATION
The Company makes its underwriter rates and closing and settlement fees available to the public as follows: (1) rate manuals in all offices; (2) rate calculators and rate tables on the Company’s website; and (3) rate cards distributed as part of ongoing marketing.
Changes to Company fees or underwriter rates are communicated by Management to employees when the changes occur (and are effective).
Rate revisions are incorporated into calculators when they become effective and the calculators are tested to verify accuracy. Users of online calculators are alerted to the fact that quotes are subject to the accuracy of the data input by the user.
Comprehensive file audits are performed by Management on a representative sample of closed files at least annually. Audits include verification that premium, endorsement and settlement charges are correct based on the rate filings (Company and underwriter) in effect at the time the order was received.
Recordings – Clerk & Recorder
The majority of recordings are done electronically by a 3rd party vendor. Recordings done electronically are of record within 48 hours of closing (within 48 hours of receipt for title-only and/or courtesy recordings).
Recordings that are not done electronically are hand-delivered to the appropriate county clerk and recorder, or sent by overnight courier. The courier invoice with tracking information is saved to the corresponding electronic file. A recording log is maintained for all documents that are not recorded electronically.
POLICY PRODUCTION & PREMIUM REMITTANCE
The Company retains copies of all contracts and other instructions related to insured transactions and it closes all transactions in accordance with the contracts and/or instructions it receives.
When insured transactions include closing and settlement services provided by the Company, policies are issued no more than 45 days after the insured documents are recorded.
For title-only transactions, policies are issued no more than 45 days after the insured documents are recorded, provided all other commitment requirements have been satisfied.
As necessary and/or upon request (e.g., large commercial transactions), the Company will issue pro forma policies and/or expedite policy issuance.
PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE
The Company carries professional liability insurance for errors and omissions in the amount of $2,000,000.00.
The Company carries “cyber-theft” insurance in the amount of $1,000,000.00.
Upon receipt, all complaints are routed to the appropriate office Manager.
Most complaints are reviewed and resolved by office Managers, but they may be referred to a superior if requested or deemed necessary by an office Manager.
The Company maintains a Consumer Complaint Log, which is used to track the date a complaint is received, the Manager assigned to handle it and its status. A companion document – the Consumer Complaint Form – is used to record a summary of the complaint and its resolution.
Click here for a PDF copy of Unified Title Company’s best practices and policies.