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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. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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