A Review of Claim Processing and My Lawsuit Against Fidelity National Title Insurance Company
I would never use Fidelity National Title Insurance Company to protect my real estate. A claim was filed with Fidelity for me by their Title Officer for the loss of a mile long easement to 80 acres with views of the famous Napa Valley in California. Fidelity valued the loss at $0 by a Boise Idaho appraiser. After suing Fidelity I was forced to settle for a fraction of the loss. I question whether Fidelity National Title Insurance Company acted in Good Faith in the handling of my claim.
Thanks for your latest 2 e-mails. I have spoken to Mr. Saag & copied
him before. IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) he is part of the problem.
He tried to “steal” the encroached property from XXXXX for $10k which was
insulting and absurd by any measure. They investigated and came back with
a minimum of $55k which IMHO is about right. Saag also told me he has 130
attorneys working for him handling claims in the Western Division. What does
that tell you?
I did hear back from the associate counsel yesterday. They claim their
appraisal is correct which indicates the property does not abut a “xxxxxxx”
enhancement and the XXXXXXXX assessor is incorrect when he claims it abuts a
xxxxxx. The assessor personally knows the property, has lived there all
his life, and is intimately familiar with my case. The subject property
abuts a xxxxxx, is shown on the TI map on a named stream, and the TI policy
extensively covers the fact that it abuts the xxxxxx in its exceptions.
Just further evidence of their delay tactics shrouded by ignorance.
Since associate counsel and Saag are continuing to communicate with me, I will
respond to them covering the above one more time to give them the opportunity
to resolve matters before I tell them I will be posting on your blog. So
far they have not released their appraisal to me.
will keep you posted. Thanks again for your
I am editing this post at this time as the author is still in the middle of attempting to get Fidelity National Title to do their job and insure his property.
for the response. Since I sent you my e-mail, I have been corresponding
with the associate claims counsel’s supervisor, He has been responsive
but continues to avoid resolving my case anytime soon with the normal run
around, legal speak, etc. I am currently waiting for a “promised” update
on their negotiations with XXXX who owns the encroached upon property and
an explanation why their (FNT’s) appraisal of my property is “admittedly”
erroneous. I will give him one more week then tell him I am going to
start posting my experience on your blog. It will be a year in December
since I filed my claim, with no carrying cost reimbursement or progress of any
sort. Clearly a deny and delay strategy.
you for your support and blog offer. I will keep you apprised of the
events as they unfold.
Here is the person who responded to all
of my top of the ladder letters:
Very sorry to read about your dealings with FNT. Thank you for posting
your blog. I am going through a somewhat similar process.
Mine is a black & white encroachment issue which FNT first denied the
majority of, then reconsidered and accepted full responsibility.
Subsequently the claims counsel refuses to pay my monthly carrying costs for an
unusable vacant property while they try to resolve it with the neighbor. After 9 months of grief, FNT offered me 50% of the insured
loss, take it or leave it, which would mean a loss of $80k to me.
I filed a complaint with the CA insurance commissioner, who in essence said
they have no power to do anything and to hire an attorney.
My first question, did you ever get a response from your 6/13 letter to Roger
Secondly, if you had to do it over again, what would you advise?
I am going to post what you wrote anonymously (somewhat) on
my blog - and this is starting to have an effect.
Here is what I feel and believe but it is my opinion. The bottom line is that they will do everything they
possibly can to NOT pay you and NOT pay you fairly but if you choose to sue it
is a long and costly process. When you go to depose their employees and consultants they are all over
the country and their "experts" depose at $500
plus expenses. The legal department of Fidelity in my opinion has no scruples whatsoever.
And I believe they dislike my blog.
There were two people I was communicating regularly with and they all of a
sudden disappeared so I believe that they settled but part of it was a gag
order. When I finally settled they forgot to put that in the agreement.
So I would use this. Please feel free to tell them that you have been in contact with me and
we are going to start posting a blow by blow of your process and see if this does not help to get them to step up to the plate. (Feel free to share this email.)
It is too late for me but if they do not want pay you for your loss perhaps they will
pay you to keep your mouth shut!!!!
"Lead your life so you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip."
And again from Glassdoor.com by a former Claims Counsel in Omaha:
March 14, 2013 "Furthermore, at times I felt as the Company was coming very close to crossing the line of good faith and dealing with the insureds. This was based upon the work load that placed upon attorneys resulting in attorneys being unable to comply with local insurance laws concerning the amount of contact the Company was to have with its insureds, loss payments being made timely, etc."
And from another Claims Counsel (again because I feel this is very true!) December 9, 2013 "Get an ethical viewpoint and serve the insured and not the stockholders. I was made to accept appraisals that I knew did not represent the loss to the claimant but rather benefited Fidelity National Title and was instructed to do so by senior management. And in one case it was discovered that we were completely in error to the detriment of the insured as I was instructed to disguise this fact with using legal terms that were very difficult to understand. I finally had to quit as I had a problem knowing that I was not representing the insured claimants in a fair and ethical manner."
Although I would not call my blog the "town gossip" as I feel I am not gossiping but rather attempting to provide as much accurate information as to what happened to me with my claim (or lack thereof!) and subsequent lawsuit against Fidelity National Title Insurance Company - I would love nothing better than to have the parrot from the Omaha Claims office of Fidelity National Title!!!
"Interested in their own bottom line and not honoring the claims of the insured" is the title of a post dated Dec. 9, 2013 by a former Associate Claims Counsel with Fidelity National Title Insurance Company from www.glassdoor.com. This post describes my experience and opinion of what happened to me exactly.
"Pros - The majority of the staff begin wanting to help the claimants and work very hard."
"Cons - As the claims progress it becomes apparent that they company's loyalty is not to the insured but to the stockholder's bottom line so it was difficult for me from an ethical viewpoint."
"Advice to Senior Management - Get an ethical viewpoint and serve the insured and not the stockholders. I was made to accept appraisals that I knew did not represent the loss to the claimant but rather benefited Fidelity National Title and was instructed to do so by senior management. And in one case it was discovered that we were completely in error to the detriment of the insured as I was instructed to disguise this fact with using legal terms that were very difficult to understand. I finally had to quit as I had a problem knowing that I was not representing the insured claimants in a fair and ethical manner."
I am going to break this down with specific examples in my claim/lawsuit against Fidelity National Title but I wish I knew who this person was as he/she would be a wonderful asset in helping to further disclose how claims are handled - or not handled - by Fidelity National Title Insurance Company.
A reader sent me the link to this information on the Fidelity National Title Insurance Company website (and this only goes up to the year 2000) along with the recommendation that before using any title company make sure that they are not affiliated with Fidelity:
HISTORY OF FNTIC
1848 Western Title Insurance Company (now Fidelity National Title Insurance Company of California) traced its origin to C.V. Gillespie (founder), a notary public and searcher of records in San Francisco.
1906 At the time of the San Francisco earthquake and fire, employees of Western Title Insurance Company and their wives were credited with saving the title plant and other valuable records of the company.
1920 The original Western Title Insurance Company was formed.
1961 Fidelity National Title Insurance Company (FNTIC), a Nebraska corporation, received a certificate of authority and began doing business in Nebraska.
1980 FNTIC acquired the assets of a small underwriter in Tucson, Arizona. It was at this time that the Company's current principals were first affiliated with FNTIC.
1981 FNTIC, with agency operations in the Arizona counties of Maricopa and Pima, was purchased from CIGNA. FNTIC was ranked 48th in the country among title insurance companies with revenue of $6.2 million.
Corporate offices for FNTIC were moved from Denver, Colorado, to Scottsdale, Arizona.
1984 Controlling interest of FNTIC was sold to Fidelity National Financial, Inc. ("Fidelity" or the "Company"), its present holding company. William P. Foley, II, became President and Chairman of the Board.
1985 The Securities and Exchange Commission approved the sale of Fidelity's stock to the employees of its various subsidiaries. Fidelity became the nation's first and only employee-owned title insurance underwriter.
1987 Fidelity began trading on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol FNF.
Fidelity Acquired Western Title Insurance Company.
Fidelity moved corporate headquarters from Scottsdale, Arizona, to Irvine, California.
1989 Fidelity acquired Western Title in Portland, Oregon.
Fidelity purchased an El Paso-based title agency, which represented Fidelity's first direct title operation within the state of Texas.
1991 Fidelity established Premier Lenders, a concept unique to the title industry. All title work for lenders in the California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego is performed out of one regional office.
1992 Fidelity began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FNF.
Fidelity acquires Meridian Title Insurance Company, and Security Title and Guarantee Company, expanding Fidelity's direct operations base to include Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
1993 Fidelity completed its acquisition of Agency Sales and Posting, Arizona Sales and Posting, Inc. and Pente Enterprises, Inc.
1994 Fidelity acquired ACS Systems, Inc., a computer software development company to enhance FNTIC's electronic data interchange through the development and marketing of its trust, escrow and title related software.
1995 Fidelity acquires Western Title Company of Washington, creating the opportunity to expand direct operations into Washington.
Fidelity acquires the accounts receivable and the book of business of World Title Company, formerly in conservatorship. Fidelity acquires 100% of the stock of World Tax Service... enhancing its market position in California.
1996 ACS unveiled ExpressNet (now FlexNet), an integrated solution for electronic commerce between back office systems and external service providers, realtors and lenders.
Fidelity acquired Nations Title Inc, 8th largest title underwriter in the United States, made FNTIC the 4th largest title underwriter in the U.S. and doubled the existing agency base.
Fidelity acquired Alliance Home Warranty (now Fidelity Home Warranty)
Fidelity acquired CRM, now Fidelity Tax Service
1997 FlexNet™, Fidelity National Lender Express Network, is established as the single source through one interface for bundled services to include title and escrow, tax, credit, flood, foreclosure appraisal, document and recording, and electronic commerce services.
Fidelity acquired First Title Corporation, a title company with offices throughout the southeastern United States.
Fidelity acquired three credit reporting companies Ifland Credit Services, Credit Reports, Inc., and Classified Credit Data, Inc. All three have been merged and operate as Fidelity National Credit Services, Inc.
Fidelity acquired Bron Research, Inc., a flood certification company headquartered in Austin, TX. which now operates as Fidelity National Flood, Inc.
Fidelity acquired Express Network, Inc., a provider of attorney services such as courier, messenger, courthouse filing, process serving, investigation and reprographics.
1998 Fidelity acquired Granite Financial, Inc., an industry consolidator in the small-ticket lease financing market
Fidelity sold wholly-owned subsidiary ACS to Micro General, Inc. ACS provides software, systems integration and telecommunication services to small to medium size businesses in the real estate industry.
FNTIC merged with Alamo Title, the ninth largest title insurer in the United States. As a result FNTIC is now the second largest underwriter in Texas.
Fidelity formed RealEC.com, the first multiple title underwriter alliance for electronic commerce. Fidelity and Stewart Title are the founding and initial members. It is designed to be an open electronic commerce network to order and deliver essential real estate information services in the real estate transaction process.
1999 FNF, through Micro General, sponsored and financed a new interest transaction intermediary company called Escrow.com.
FNF announces its plan to acquire Chicago Title Corp. and its title insurance subsidiaries - Chicago Title and Ticor Title, thus creating the world's largest title insurance organization.
2000 FNF completes its acquisition of Chicago Title Corp., creating the largest title insurance organization in the world.
FNF moved into its new corporate headquarters in Santa Barbara, California.
FlexNet and Chicago Title's CastleLink operation are merged to form Fidelity National Lender's Solution - the single solution for mortgage products and services.
With origins that can be traced back 150 years, Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, through its underwriting subsidiaries, is one of the nation's premier real estate service companies, providing title insurance and other real estate-related products and services.
Fidelity employees are committed to providing our customers with a level of satisfaction that is unparalleled in the title insurance industry. Based on our experience and expertise, we are confident that you'll appreciate the Fidelity Difference.
THE FIDELITY COMMITMENT
At Fidelity, commitment is not just a word--it's a conviction. We take pride in our desire to serve our customers to the best of our ability. The quality of Fidelity's customer service and the level of employee loyalty and commitment are enhanced by our employee stock ownership. Stock ownership serves as a motivational force for Fidelity employees who recognize the Company's success is dependent upon their efforts and contributions.
Fidelity employees uphold the six corporate precepts upon which the Company was founded:
Bias For Action
Autonomy and Entrepreneurship
Close Customer Relationships
Highest Standard of Conduct
So what do some of these precepts mean?
Bias for Action. Bias for action is defined as the tendency to act without analysis or information. Contemplation is performed later. Well in the case of my claim I can say that the Claims Counsels probably acted without analysis or information - or misinformation - and they did contemplate about their actions later trying to figure out how to not pay the claim. This is pretty clearly documented.
Autonomy or Entrepreneurship. This did not seem to be the case in my claim as no one really took ownership of the problem but seemed to be relaying decisions made elsewhere in the company.
Employee Ownership. This is the precept that I personally have the biggest personal problem with. It stands to reason that the easiest way to increase the profits of the company is to collect insurance premiums and not pay claims. With employee ownership it appears that the company profits would decrease if claims were paid so the employees are going to be making more money by not honoring the insurance policies they issue. This seems to be a conflict of interest.
Minimal Bureaucracy. Well I ran into nothing but bureaucracy being passed from one office to another across the country and from one Claims Counsel to another. The Fidelity system seemed riddled with bureaucracy.
Close Customer Relationships. I found my experience with the Claims process of Fidelity National Title Insurance Company to be the exact opposite. I felt that my value as a customer was zero - the same dollar amount that the appraiser from Boise Idaho assigned to my claim.
Highest Standard of Conduct. Well............ the final comment I made to the attorneys who handled the lawsuit was I did not understand how they could get up in the morning and look in the mirror. I feel that this precept is a joke.
My experience with Fidelity National Title is quite the opposite of these precepts. Somehow the precepts that the company was founded on are no longer valid - at least in my experience. The main precept appeared to be making money for Fidelity by not paying valid claims.