Wis. Admin. Code Office of the Commissioner of Insurance § Ins 3.32 - Title insurance; prohibited practices

Current through November 29, 2021

(1) PURPOSE. This rule implements and interprets s. 601.01(3), Stats., and ch. 628, Stats., for the purpose of prohibiting unfair practices in the transaction of the business of title insurance.
(2)SCOPE. This section applies to all title insurers and title insurance agents.
(3)DEFINITIONS. In this section:
(a) "Affiliate" has the meaning provided under s. 600.03(1), Stats.
(am) "Agent" has the meaning provided under s. 600.03(1r), Stats.
(b) "Affiliate producer" means an affiliate of a producer of title insurance, but only for the 12-month period commencing after June 30, 1987, and after the end of any quarter calendar year in which the affiliate's gross revenue from operation in this state from title insurance directly or indirectly referred by affiliated producers of title insurance exceeds 40% of the affiliate's gross revenue from operations in this state for title insurance in the previous quarter calendar year. However, if the previous quarter calendar year commences prior to July 1, 1988, the percentage is 80%; and if it commences prior to July 1, 1989, the percentage is 60%. "Affiliate producer" does not include a person who is affiliated with producers of title insurance who are all attorneys if the affiliate examines the title for each title insurance policy it issues.
(bm) "Control" has the meaning provided under s. 600.03(13), Stats.
(c) "Producer of title insurance" means any of the following, other than a title insurer, who order or influence, directly or indirectly, the ordering of title insurance and related services:
1. Any owner or prospective owner of real or personal property or any interest therein;
2. Any lender or prospective lender in a transaction involving an obligation secured or to be secured either in whole or in part by real or personal property or any interest therein; and
3. Any agent, representative, attorney or employee of any owner or prospective owner or of any lender or prospective lender.
4. An affiliate producer.
(cm) "Supplementary rate information" has the meaning provided under s. 625.02(3), Stats.
(d) "Title insurance rates" means all charges made by a title insurer in connection with the issuance of a title insurance policy or a commitment to issue a title insurance policy and includes, but is not limited to, search and examination charges.
(e) "Title insurer" means all insurance companies authorized to write title insurance as defined by s. Ins 6.75(2) (h) and their affiliates, and includes all officers, employees and representatives of the insurance companies or their affiliates.
(4)PROHIBITED PRACTICES. No title insurer or agent of a title insurer may engage in any of the following practices:
(a) Charging an amount for a title insurance policy or commitment for a title insurance policy other than the amount developed by application of the appropriate title insurance rate developed from the rates and supplementary rate information on file with the commissioner for use by the title insurer.
(b) Waiving, or offering to waive, all or any part of the applicable title insurance rate or premium developed by proper application of the appropriate title insurance rate developed from the rates and supplementary rate information on file with the commissioner.
(c) Charging a reduced title insurance rate under a so-called "take-off" or subdivision policy when the property involved is ineligible for such reduced rate.
(d) Charging a reduced title insurance rate under a so-called "take-off" or subdivision policy when such rate is not applicable in the particular transaction because the volume required to qualify for such reduced rate includes ineligible property.
(e) Paying or offering to pay the cancellation fee, the fee for a preliminary title report or other fee on behalf of any producer of title insurance after inducing the person to cancel an order with another title insurer.
(f) Making or guaranteeing, or offering to make or guarantee, directly or indirectly, any loan to any producer of title insurance regardless of the terms of the note or guarantee. This prohibition is not applicable to customary business collection procedures, claims settlement and salvage activities and other business activities totally unrelated to the solicitation of business for which a charge is made.
(g) Providing or offering to provide, directly or indirectly, a "compensating balance" or deposit in a lending institution either for the express or implied purpose of influencing the extension of credit by the lending institution to any producer of title insurance, or for the express or implied purpose of influencing the placement or channeling of title insurance business by the lending institution. This paragraph does not prohibit the maintenance by a title insurer or agent of demand deposits or escrow deposits which are reasonably necessary for use in the ordinary course of the business of the title insurer or agent.
(h) Paying or offering to pay the fees or charges of an outside professional, including but not limited to, an attorney, engineer, appraiser, or surveyor, whose services are required by any producer of title insurance to structure or complete a particular transaction.
(i) Paying or offering to pay all or part of the salary of an employee of a producer of title insurance.
(j) Paying or offering to pay a fee to a producer of title insurance for services unless the fee bears a reasonable relation to the services performed. The determination of whether a fee bears a reasonable relation to the services performed means a recognition of time and effort spent, risk and expenses incurred, and an allowance for a reasonable level of profit. After June 30, 1987, for purposes of this paragraph, a payment determined by applying a percentage amount or formula to the premium paid for title insurance is presumed, unless rebutted, not to bear a reasonable relation to services performed. The presumption may be rebutted in a particular case by satisfying the commissioner that the service to be performed and the compensation to be received, with recognition of time and effort spent and risk and expenses incurred, are substantially comparable to the services performed and compensation received by agents, or to the services performed by underwriters, in this state who are not producers of title insurance.
(k) Paying or offering to pay for services by a producer of title insurance if the services are required to be performed by the person in his or her capacity as a real estate or mortgage broker or salesperson or agent.
(L) Furnishing or offering to furnish, or paying or offering to pay for, furniture, office supplies, telephones, equipment or automobiles to a producer of title insurance, or paying for, or offering to pay for, any portion of the cost of renting, leasing, operating or maintaining any of these items. Marketing and title insurance promotional items clearly of an advertising nature of token or nominal value, or supplies such as title insurance application blanks and related forms are prohibited under this paragraph if they are made available to all producers of title insurance on the same terms and conditions.
(m) Paying for, furnishing, or waiving, or offering to pay for, furnish, or waive, all or any part of the rent for space occupied by a producer of title insurance.
(n) Renting or offering to rent space from a producer of title insurance, at a rent which is excessive when compared with rents for comparable space in the geographic area, or paying or offering to pay, rent based in whole or in part on the volume of business generated by a producer of title insurance except for a bona fide percentage lease based on the total volume of receipts of the title insurer when the services of that title insurer are offered from that location to the public generally.
(o) Paying or offering to pay for gifts, vacations, business trips, convention expenses, travel expenses, membership fees, registration fees, lodging or meals on behalf of a producer of title insurance, directly or indirectly, or supplying letters of credit, credit cards or any such benefits. This paragraph does not preclude reasonable, moderate and customary business entertainment and trade association activities and expense incurred and recorded by the title insurer or agent in the course of marketing its products and services.
(p) Paying or offering to pay money, prizes or other things of value to, or on behalf of, a producer of title insurance in a contest or promotional endeavor. This paragraph does not apply to offers or payments to trade associations or charitable or other functions where the thing of value is a contribution or donation rather than a business solicitation.
(q) Paying or offering to pay for advertising concerning the title insurer or agent in material distributed or promoted by a producer of title insurance, unless the payment is reasonable compensation for the advertising, is not greater than the amount charged for comparable advertising and any title insurer is permitted to advertise in the material on the same terms and conditions.
(r) Paying for or furnishing, or offering to pay for or furnish any brochures, billboards, or advertisements of a producer of title insurance, products or services appearing in newspapers, on the radio, or on television, or other advertising or promotional material published or distributed by, or on behalf of, a producer of title insurance.
(5)REFERRAL OF TITLE INSURANCE APPLICATIONS. For the purpose of sub. (3) (b), an application or order for title insurance is presumed to be referred to an agent by an affiliate producer of title insurance if the affiliated producer of title insurance acts as a broker, agent, lender, representative or attorney in the transaction which results in the application or order and the application was not referred to the affiliate producer by an unaffiliated producer of title insurance.

Notes

Wis. Admin. Code Office of the Commissioner of Insurance § Ins 3.32
Cr. Register, December, 1975, No. 240, eff. 1-1-76; emerg. am. (1), (2) and (3) (a), eff. 6-22-76; am. (1) (2), (3) (a) and (4) (o), Register, September, 1976, No. 249, eff. 10-1-76; am. (2) and (3) (a), Register, March, 1979, No. 279, eff. 4-1-79; am. (2), (3) (c) (intro.), (d), (4) (intro.), (e) to (p) and (r), renum. (3) (a) and (e) to be (3) (e) and (cm) and am., cr. (3) (intro.), (a), (am), (bm) and (c) 4., r. and recr. (3) (b), (4) (q) and (5), Register, November, 1986, No. 371, eff. 12-1-86; emerg. am. (4) (j), eff. 7-5-88; am. (4) (j), Register, October, 1988, No. 396, eff. 1-1-89; correction in (5) made under s. 13.93(2m) (b) 7, Stats., Register December 2002 No. 564.

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