Title Insurance - Where Does Your Dollar Go?

November 4, 2023

Understanding Title Insurance: Safeguard your property against potential title disputes. Learn the importance, coverage, and selection process.

As a real estate agent with 17 years of experience and the founder of the Tim M. Clarke Team, I've witnessed firsthand the crucial role title insurance plays in safeguarding homebuyers and their investments. Having lived in the Raleigh-Durham Triangle area of North Carolina for the past 30 years, I've gained a deep understanding of the local real estate market and the significance of title insurance in ensuring smooth property transactions.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is a type of insurance policy that protects property owners and lenders against financial losses arising from defects or issues with the title to a property. Its primary purpose is to ensure that the person or entity purchasing the property has a clear and marketable title, free from any encumbrances or competing claims.

How Title Insurance Differs from Other Types of Insurance

Unlike other forms of insurance that protect against future events, title insurance safeguards against past occurrences that may affect the ownership rights of a property. It is a one-time purchase, typically made during the closing process, and remains in effect for as long as the policyholder or their heirs own the property.

The Title Insurance Process

Ordering a Title Search

A title search is a comprehensive examination of public records to determine the legal ownership history of a property. This process involves researching deeds, mortgages, liens, and other documents related to the property to identify any potential issues or encumbrances.

Title companies play a vital role in conducting title searches. They employ skilled professionals who are well-versed in navigating public records and identifying potential title issues. These companies work diligently to ensure that the title search is thorough and accurate, minimizing the risk of future title disputes.

Reviewing the Title Report

Once the title search is complete, the title company will generate a title report. This report outlines the findings of the search, including the current ownership status, any outstanding liens or mortgages, and any other encumbrances or restrictions on the property.

It's essential for buyers to carefully review the title report and work with their real estate agent and title company to identify any potential issues or encumbrances. If any title issues are discovered during the search process, it's crucial to address and resolve them before proceeding with the closing.

Purchasing Title Insurance

There are two primary types of title insurance policies: owner's policies and lender's policies. An owner's policy protects the buyer's investment and ownership rights, while a lender's policy safeguards the lender's financial interest in the property.

When selecting a title insurance company, it's important to consider factors such as their reputation, financial stability, and experience in the local market. As a real estate agent, I often recommend working with companies that have a proven track record of providing excellent service and have a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities in the Raleigh-Durham Triangle area.

Benefits of Title Insurance

Financial Protection

Title insurance policies provide coverage for legal expenses incurred while defending the policyholder's ownership rights in the event of a title dispute. This can be invaluable, as legal fees associated with title disputes can quickly add up and place a significant financial burden on the property owner.

If a title defect results in financial losses for the policyholder, such as the loss of the property or a decrease in its value, title insurance policies offer compensation to help mitigate those losses. This protection provides peace of mind and ensures that the policyholder's investment is safeguarded.

Peace of Mind

One of the most significant benefits of title insurance is the assurance it provides to buyers that they are receiving a clear and marketable title. This peace of mind allows buyers to confidently move forward with their property purchase, knowing that their investment is protected.

With title insurance in place, buyers can have confidence in their property investment. They can rest assured that their ownership rights are protected and that they will not face unexpected financial losses due to title defects or competing claims to the property.

Improved Resale Prospects

When it comes time to sell a property, having a clear title and a history of title insurance coverage can make the property more attractive to potential buyers. Buyers are more likely to feel confident in their purchase when they know that the property has been protected by title insurance and that any past title issues have been resolved.

A clear title and a history of title insurance coverage can also help to facilitate a smoother transfer of ownership when selling a property. With fewer potential title issues to address, the closing process can proceed more efficiently, minimizing delays and reducing stress for both the buyer and the seller.

Considerations When Purchasing Title Insurance

Understanding Policy Exclusions and Limitations

While title insurance policies offer broad protection against title defects, it's important to understand that there are some common exclusions. These may include matters such as zoning ordinances, building codes, and governmental regulations. It's essential for buyers to review their policy carefully and discuss any concerns with their title insurance agent.

Comparing Title Insurance Providers

When comparing title insurance providers, it's crucial to consider their reputation and financial stability. Buyers should look for companies with a proven track record of providing reliable service and have the financial resources to stand behind their policies.

The quality of customer service and support offered by a title insurance provider can also be a key factor in the decision-making process. Buyers should seek out companies that are responsive, knowledgeable, and committed to helping their clients navigate the complexities of title insurance.

Evaluating the Scope of Coverage

Every property transaction is unique, and buyers may have specific title insurance needs based on the characteristics of the property and their individual circumstances. Working with a knowledgeable title insurance agent can help buyers tailor their coverage to address any specific concerns or potential risks associated with the property.

When evaluating the scope of coverage, buyers must balance the cost of the policy with the level of protection provided. While it may be tempting to opt for the most basic coverage to save on upfront costs, this decision could leave buyers vulnerable to potential title issues down the road. It's essential to find a balance that provides adequate protection without breaking the budget.


Title insurance plays a vital role in protecting buyers and their investments in the Raleigh-Durham Triangle area and beyond. By providing coverage against title defects, fraud, and other potential issues, title insurance offers buyers peace of mind and financial security throughout the homeownership journey.

As a real estate agent with nearly two decades of experience, I strongly encourage all homebuyers to consult with a knowledgeable title insurance agent when purchasing a property. These professionals can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the title insurance process, helping buyers make informed decisions and protect their investments.

By understanding the title insurance process, carefully evaluating policy options, and working with trusted experts, homebuyers can navigate the complexities of property transactions with confidence and secure their piece of the American Dream.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is title insurance?

Title insurance is a form of indemnity insurance that safeguards the holder from financial loss tied to defects in a title to a property. It's designed to protect homeowners and mortgage lenders.

Why do I need title insurance?

You need title insurance to protect your investment from future claims against your ownership of the property such as unknown liens, encumbrances, or errors in the title to the property.

How is title insurance different from other types of insurance?

Unlike other forms of insurance that protect against future events, title insurance covers risks related to past ownership of the property.

Also, while other types of insurance require regular premiums, title insurance is paid once at the time of the transaction.

Who pays for title insurance?

In many states, it's customary for the seller to pay for the title insurance policy, but it can be negotiated in the contract. Depending on negotiation, the buyer may also pay for it.

What does the title insurance cover?

Title insurance protects against claims from defects like unknown liens, encumbrances, fraudulent claims from past owners, or errors in the public records.

How is the cost of title insurance determined?

The cost of title insurance varies based on the value of the property and differs between locations. It's a one-time cost paid at closing.

What is a title search?

A title search is an examination of public records to determine and confirm a property's legal ownership and find out what claims or liens are on the property.

How long does the coverage of title insurance last?

For the owner, the coverage of a title insurance policy lasts as long as the owner or their heirs have an interest in the property. For a lender, it lasts until the mortgage is paid off.

Is title insurance required?

While it's not required by law, most mortgage lenders require a title insurance policy to protect their investment. You don’t have to purchase owner’s title insurance, though it’s often a wise decision.

Do I need to renew my title insurance policy annually?

Unlike other types of insurance that require yearly renewals, title insurance is paid with a one-time premium at closing and provides coverage as long as you or your heirs own the property.

Tim M. Clarke

About the author

17 years as a Realtor in the Research Triangle, Tim seeks to transform the Raleigh-Durham real estate scene through a progressive, people-centered approach prioritizing trust & transparency.

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