ATG’s Thoughts on Proposed Changes to The Illinois Title Insurance Act

Peter J. Birnbaum photo
ATG Agents and Friends,

Professional National Title Network (PNTN) distributed an email on February 28, 2020, requesting that underwriters articulate a position on a proposed rewrite to the Illinois Title Insurance Act. While we haven’t yet seen a final draft of the bill, we offer the following in response:




Like you, I am waiting for ILTA to release its revised draft of the legislation. I am hopeful that we will see accommodations of the issues we and others, including PNTN, raised concerning the previous iteration.

We do not have a position on the underwriter-agent split issue at the moment. If the legislation is implemented, the notion of what title insurance pricing will look like deserves deeper consideration. Questions remain on the efficacy of a rating bureau, the experience in other states that have implemented market conduct and/or rate regulation, and the resources available to IDFPR to implement a statute this ambitious.

Despite your assertions to the contrary, ATG is the only true bar-related company whose owners are practicing lawyers. Because of this, our deepest concerns are the existential impact on lawyers owing to some of the business practices in the Chicago metro market. We believe those practices, in the absence of an intervening act such as legislation, regulation, or litigation, will put the profession at risk of elimination.

These are our core concerns:

  • Pricing practices, inducements, and junk fees that unduly raise consumer costs.
  • Increasing practice of some brokers that own captive title companies who refer clients to lawyers on the condition that the lawyer use the realtor captive.
  • Proliferation of broker-owned title agencies that will refer clients to lawyers on the condition that the lawyer not provide title services.
  • Litigation or reputational risk to lawyers because of the behavior of some underwriters and service companies who seduce lawyers into non-compliant agency relationships.

The fiery rhetoric in your Monday Morning memos obfuscates most if not all these issues. I could cite many, but for these purposes will highlight one of the most important ones: You have consistently cited opposition to our proposal to prohibit illegal and unethical reciprocal trading by brokers who present lawyers with the Hobson's Choice of refusing to play along where that refusal will create catastrophic economic hardship to that lawyer. Not to mention that the consumer, a babe in the woods, has no knowledge that this behavior is taking place. To our proposal to ameliorate these practices you consistently say: "It's ill conceived," "not realistic," or "poorly drafted."

If true, what do you propose?

If you support our position on this point please respond yes. If you do not respond we will assume you support these practices, which have been and will continue to be an existential threat to the legal profession.

Peter J. Birnbaum
President and CEO
Attorneys' Title Guaranty Fund, Inc.

We’re interested in your feedback. Feel free to Contact Us with questions or comments. As always, we appreciate your support.

Peter J. Birnbaum
ATG President and Chief Executive Officer

Posted on: Mon, 03/02/2020 - 2:48pm