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Judges reinstate administrative order to refund excessive title insurance premiums

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After finding a trial court exceeded its authority when it reweighed evidence presented to a hearing officer regarding overcharging of title insurance premiums by several agencies, the Indiana Court of Appeals reinstated the administrative order issued by the Indiana commissioner of insurance to refund excessive premiums.

A hearing officer appointed by the Indiana Department of Insurance conducted an investigation into independent non-affiliated agencies operated in the state by Ticor Title Insurance Co. of Florida to see if the company was charging potentially excessive and discriminatory title insurance rates to Indiana customers. The hearing officer found the rates were excessive and discriminatory and ordered Ticor to refund excessive premiums, pay unpaid premium taxes and establish an internal control process to ensure that the appropriate premium is charged to Ticor’s customers.

Ticor sought judicial review, and Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer reversed, finding the hearing officer applied an arbitrary rate-making standard and, therefore, erred when it found Ticor charged premiums or rates that were unfairly discriminatory. Dreyer also found the hearing officer erred when concluding that Ticor failed to properly monitor its non-affiliated operations’ compliance with the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and when it included settlement charges in its calculation of Ticor’s premium tax obligation.

Judge Paul Mathias noted that the hearing officer for IDOI and Dreyer applied differing interpretations of the rate statute, I.C. 27-4-1-4(a)(7)(C)(i). The appellate court found IDOI’s interpretation of the statute – that insurers should be charging comparable insurance premiums to insureds purchasing the same amount of title insurance – to be reasonable. Ticor even acknowledged that its agents should have been charging its Indiana customers the same rates for the same amount of title insurance.

The judges found Ticor had actual authority over its agents for the purpose of selling and issuing Ticor’s title insurance policies and that substantial evidence supports the administrative hearing officer’s conclusions.

The judges remanded Stephen W. Robertson, Ins. Comm. of the State of Indiana, on behalf of the Indiana Dept. of Ins. v. Ticor Title Ins. Co. of Florida, n/k/a Chicago Title Ins. Co., 49A02-1110-PL-971, for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.

 

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  • Just goes to show ya
    I read the case and actually the judges gave deference to the opinion of the insurance department, despite the fact that the insurance department was articulating a completely new interpretation of the statute. This is contrary to most decisions concerning deference issues. Indiana has had very low title insurance rates, but the cost of "gotcha" regulation may very well change that.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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