OGC Op. No. 07-04-09
The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on April 11, 2007, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
Licensing and Education Requirements for Title Insurance Agents
Is any change to the Insurance Law or its regulations currently being contemplated that would require real estate title insurance agents to be licensed or take classes?
While title insurance agents are not currently required to be licensed or take classes, a bill pending in the State Legislature, if enacted, would establish licensing and education requirements.
No facts were presented.
N.Y. Ins. Law § 2102 (McKinney 2006) prohibits anyone from acting as an insurance agent without a license. However, Insurance Law § 2101, which defines the term “insurance agent,” expressly excludes title insurance agents from its ambit. It provides, in pertinent part:
(a) In this article, “insurance agent” means any authorized or acknowledged agent of an insurer, fraternal benefit society or health maintenance organization issued a certificate of authority pursuant to article forty-four of the public health law, and any sub-agent or other representative of such an agent, who acts as such in the solicitation of, negotiation for, or sale of, an insurance, health maintenance organization or annuity contract, other than as a licensed insurance broker, except that such term shall not include:
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(4) any agent or other representative of any title insurance company; .. .
Therefore, title insurance agents are not required to be licensed, notwithstanding Insurance Law § 2102.
In addition, title agents are not currently subject to other licensing or education requirements under the Insurance Law or its regulations.
However, the Department has commenced an investigation into certain business practices in the title insurance industry, including those of title agents. Moreover, the Department has drafted a bill that contains both licensing and educational requirements for title insurance agents and otherwise subjects them to the requirements now imposed on insurance agents; the bill was introduced in the Legislature last month (see N.Y.S. Senate S. 1293, 230th Sess. (2007)). In addition, a bill sponsored by the New York State Land Title Association that would also require title insurance agents to be licensed and take qualifying courses was introduced in January 2007 (see N.Y.S. Legislature S. 877/A. 1743, 230th Sess. (2007)). The text of both bills may be found at http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/.
For further information you may contact Associate Attorney Jeffrey A. Stonehill at the New York City Office.