Wednesday, August 7, 2013

If Fidelity National Title makes an error - do they defend your title??

So you all remember my blog post about the Maryland case involving Progressive Insurance??  In a nutshell Progressive hired an attorney who sat at the defense table trying to prove (unsuccessfully) that their dead client was at fault in her fatal automobile accident to get out of paying the claim.  When I heard about this I was beyond appalled but as I was in the middle of my own claim with Fidelity National Title Company et al - I felt there was a resonance of truth in this story.

In my particular case I believed I had an easement.  Fidelity confirmed they had made a mistake and there was no easement and opened a claim.  They valued the loss of the easement at $0 using an appraiser from a different state.  BUT apparently in the middle of the four year claim they discovered that the easement was valid (and did not tell me) and made no attempt to defend the easement.  Of course, I did not discover this fact until another two years later during discovery and by that time we were 24 hours away from the Settlement Conference and I no longer owned the property.

But what happens in the case that Fidelity makes an error and you need to go to court to retain your property rights against your neighbor??

From the Fidelity National Title website:

"How Does a Title Insurance Policy Protect Against All These Claims?
If a claim is made against your insured title, Fidelity National Title Insurance Company protects you by: (1) Defending your title, in court if necessary, at no cost to you, and (2) Bearing the cost of settling the case, if it proves valid, in order to protect your title and maintain your possession of your property."
Sounds great, doesn't it??  Please read this comment that was posted on my blog:
"The title company accepted the responsibility of the claim but mandated that the insured accept an outside hired attorney of the title company's choice to represent the insured.

However, what had become apparent in the process was that the title company was not acting in good faith for the responsibility of their error. But instead proceeded with action to legally eliminate their responsibility of the error by hiring an attorney to manipulate an outcome so that the title company would have little to no responsibility. After this was accomplished the title company then discontinued coverage and representation of the insured.

Even though this was "successfully" accomplished by the title company and their hired outside council. The title company remains accountable for the original error no matter what course of action the company took to minimize the damage of the original error made by the title company.

The insured continued to pursue the original issue with the title company and he received another letter. Only this time, from an "outside attorney" hired on "behalf" of the title company. This attorney actually had the audacity to issue a cease and desist notice on behalf of the title company."
So here is the question for today.  After making an error in your title policy and then defending that error in court and losing whether with an in house or outside attorney - doesn't Fidelity National Title Insurance Company still then owe you for your loss??
And if Fidelity National Title hires an attorney are they representing you, the insured, or like Progressive in the above example - are they representing the financial interests of Fidelity National Financial and its subsidiaries including Fidelity National Title Insurance Company??
The person who wrote to me felt that the outside attorney was not representing them but rather attempting to manipulate the outcome to alleviate the responsibility of Fidelity National Title - just as the attorney for Progressive was trying to prove their dead client was at fault.
When a person has a claim with Fidelity National Title Company or Fidelity National Title Insurance Company who is really there to represent the interests of the insured??  In my experience it was not the claims counsels as it was apparent that their interest was to represent the stockholders (themselves) of Fidelity National Financial.  And if you end up in court with a third party it appears from the stories that I have been told that again the attorney who is there is not to represent you, the insured, but rather Fidelity National Title Company.