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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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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