Thursday, August 1, 2013

How does FideltyNational Title Treat People During the Claims Process??

Another two hour conversation yesterday.  I have now had numerous conversations with people who were involved in the claims process with Fidelity National Title.  The specifics of the claims are all slightly different but the similarities are remarkably the same.

1)  Every individual I have talked to has felt frustrated, very angry and that they were not being treated fairly or as valued customers.  Class action, fraud, bad faith and/or other choice words have been used singularly or in combinations.  (And the emphasis here is on choice words!!)
2)  Every individual has in some way - frequently by Fidelity National Title like I was - had it acknowledged that they had a valid claim.  Some like myself actually had the claim opened for them by Fidelity and/or had the claim acknowledged as valid in a letter.
3)  Every individual was attempting to settle or was involved with the Claims Department for years.  I would guess the average time to be four years.
4)  Every individual thought at the beginning of the claims process that the Claims Counsel was there to help them and/or to represent their (the insured's) interest but slowly over time learned that the Claims Counsel appeared to represent the financial interest of Fidelity National Title above the interest in protecting their property rights.  (And here I should clarify - not one person I spoke to felt that they received a fair and equitable settlement - not even close.  Compounding this for most was the tens and hundreds of hours the claimants had to work to procure any kind of a settlement - and this time was universally not acknowledged financially.) (In my particular case by the time court, attorney and appraisal fees were paid - I received nothing for my loss and about 10 cents an hour for the time I spent pursuing the claim opened on my behalf by Fidelity.)
5)  Every individual had multiple Claims Counsels assigned to their claim. So far the fewest I have heard is three (and that person has still not settled their claim) but six seems to be a common number.
6)  Individuals have spent between $50,000 and $300,000 or more to settle their claims with Fidelity National Title.

The other common thread which is the purpose of this blog is "How do we keep this horrible situation from happening to others?"  I do not have the answer to that question.  One difficulty is that I have spoken to/or heard from clients of Fidelity National Title from more than a dozen states.  But I believe that using our First Amendment rights and communicating the facts of what occurred during our claims to inform and educate others is at least a step in the right direction.

Additionally, I have been trying to learn more of how title insurance claims work by talking to others and researching the process on the internet.

Some important questions that arose from my experience include:

Why is your escrow handled by Fidelity National Title Company and your property is insured by Fidelity National Title Insurance Company?

Is this why the files and documents of the escrow and title search done by Fidelity National Title Company for that process not available to Fidelity National Title Insurance Company during the claims process?  (At least they were not available in my case.)

Why are the people who handle the claims attorneys?  And do these attorneys represent you as the claimant or the financial interests of Fidelity National Financial and its subsidiaries?

Are the claims counsels attorneys and really representing the financial success of Fidelity?  And then in the case of a lawsuit their phone logs, notes, emails, etc. are not available due to attorney/client privilege??  (At least they were not provided in my case.)

If they are indeed all separate companies why do all of their email addresses (from escrow officers to claims counsels) end in

Are the insured actually the clients/customers of the company??

Does the fact that Fidelity has an employee stock program create a conflict of interest in the paying of claims?  In other words if claims are not paid then the value of the stock increases, correct?

Oh, I could go on and on with question after question.  I obviously have a lot more research to do on how title insurance companies handle the claims of the insured.