Title insurance indemnifies against financial loss from defects in title to real property and/or from the invalidity or unenforceability of mortgage liens. It is intended to protect both the owner and/or a lender against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters. Title insurance also defends against lawsuits challenging the title as it is insured, or reimburses the insured for the actual monetary loss incurred, up to the dollar amount of insurance provided by the policy.
Before the closing of a loan or a purchase takes place, the public records are searched and examined to determine ownership, limitations to that ownership, encumbrances and any adverse matters affecting title to the property. These records are searched by examining the official courthouse records, where all recorded documents, judgments, liens, tax assessments (such as street or sewer), special taxes, and other matters, such as divorce and bankruptcy, are filed. The results of this examination will then be provided in a preliminary title report or “commitment” to insure the property. A title commitment is a binding contract which reflects the current status of title before a loan or sale is closed, and binds the title company to issue its title insurance in favor of the insured as owner or mortgagee of the property being searched, subject to certain conditions and stipulations.