Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

Unauthorized Practice Rule 7 - Title Insurance

Title Insurance.

UPR 7-101. Title Insurance Practice.

  1. (A) A title insurance company, through its employees, agents or other representatives acting as such, shall not give legal advice or express an opinion to any person other than, upon request, to a lawyer, as to the status or marketability of title to real property in Virginia, or as to the legal effect of documents comprising the chain of title or matters revealed by a title search or examination.
  2. (B) A title insurance commitment, binder or policy, or any of the provisions thereof, shall not be held out, directly or indirectly, by any person as constituting the equivalent of, or as tantamount to, a legal opinion based upon an examination of title.
  3. (C) A title insurance company may in the regular course of conducting its business, issue directly to an insured or prospective insured its title insurance commitments, binders and policies, as otherwise permitted by law.
  4. (D) A title insurance company, its employees, agents and other representatives are subject in all respects to the Rules set forth in Unauthorized Practice Rule 6, Real Estate Practice.

Unauthorized Practice Considerations.

UPC 7-1. Title insurance is insurance indemnifying the insured from loss if the status of title on a certain date is other than as stated in the policy, subject to the exclusions and exceptions from coverage set out in the policy.

UPC 7-2. The abstracting of title to real property located in Virginia by a non-lawyer from public records does not, standing alone, constitute the practice of law; but the interpretation of the meaning of documents comprising and affecting the chain of title, and the concepts attendant thereto, require a knowledge of statutes, general law in the field, and judicial decisions not generally possessed by non-lawyers. It is not improper, however, for an employee of a title insurance company to search the title records and report his findings to his employer, and express his conclusions to his employer or, upon request, to a lawyer as to which liens, encumbrances and the like relate to or affect the status of a particular title.

UPC 7-3. Although legal knowledge and skill may be utilized in the preparation and issuance of a title insurance policy, this does not make such policy a legal opinion. The policy is one of indemnity against loss issued in the regular course of its business by a title insurance company subject to inspection, supervision and regulation by the State Corporation Commission of Virginia.

UPC 7-4. If an employee, agent or other representative of a title insurance company attempts to advise another, other than such company or, upon request, a lawyer, on the legal effect of matters affecting the chain of title to real estate located in Virginia and the concepts attendant thereto, he then engages in the unauthorized practice of law since he would be furnishing to another advice or service under circumstances which imply his possession and use of legal knowledge and skill.

Updated: April 20, 2010