State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > Wyoming > Title26 > Chapter23

CHAPTER 23 - CASUALTY INSURANCE, SURETY INSURANCE AND TITLEINSURANCE

 

ARTICLE 1 - PROPERTY INSURANCE CONTRACTS

 

26-23-101. Overinsurance prohibited.

 

 

(a) No person shall buy insurance on property within this statefor an amount which, together with any existing insurance, exceeds the fairvalue of the property or of the interest of the insured therein. This provisiondoes not apply as to insurance of replacement value.

 

(b) Anyone who willfully violates this section is subject tothe penalties provided in W.S. 26-1-107.

 

26-23-102. Adjuster's reports of overinsurance and causes of fire; reportsdeemed privileged communications.

 

(a) Any adjuster who investigates any property loss claim inthis state shall report to the commissioner in writing any overinsurance of theproperty he discovers.

 

(b) Any adjuster who investigates any property fire loss inthis state shall report in writing to the commissioner the origin and cause ofthe fire, so far as he can reasonably ascertain them, together with anycircumstances which in his opinion may indicate fraud or attempted fraud.

 

(c) Any report submitted to the commissioner under thissection, together with any accompanying information, document, record orstatement, is an absolutely privileged communication. The report may bedisclosed as authorized by and in accordance with the provisions of W.S.26-2-113(d).

 

26-23-103. Return of excess premium in certain cases of totaldestruction.

 

Ifthe insured property is totally destroyed and the total amount of loss is lessthan the total amount insured thereon as to the hazard causing the loss, the insurershall return to the insured at the time of payment of the loss the amount ofpremiums paid under the policy then in force for the excess of insurance overthe fair value of the property at the time of the loss. This section does notapply to insurance of replacement value.

 

26-23-104. Terms of policies; extension.

 

 

(a) No insurer shall issue a policy insuring property in thisstate for a term longer than five (5) years.

 

(b) The term of any such policy may be extended by certificateas provided in W.S. 26-15-121.

 

26-23-105. Exemptions.

 

W.S.26-23-101(a), 26-23-102 and 26-23-103 do not apply to insurance on stocks ofmerchandise or property of fluctuating values, if the reduced rate contributionclause is made a part of the policy. This chapter does not apply to wet marineand transportation insurance.

 

26-23-106. Use of insurance support organizations limited.

 

Thissection shall apply if an insurer uses for underwriting purposes for insurancepolicies information from a report provided by, or database maintained by, aninsurance support organization, or consumer reporting agency, related to thepremises that is the subject of the application or to the person applying forinsurance. Failure of the insurer, within forty-five (45) calendar days ofissuing a binder, to act upon the information referenced in this sectionprecludes the insurer from declining insurance coverage or terminating a binderof insurance coverage based on the information. Notwithstanding any other law,an insurer may decline or terminate insurance coverage based on the conditionof the premises as determined through a physical inspection of the premises.This section applies only to homeowner's insurance and does not apply to apolicy renewal.

 

26-23-107. Cancellation and nonrenewal of homeowner's insurancepolicies for natural causes restricted.

 

(a) No homeowner's insurance policy shall be denied renewal asa result of a single claim within a three (3) year period arising from naturalcauses.

 

(b) No homeowner's insurance policy shall be cancelled duringits term as a result of any claim arising from natural causes.

 

(c) As used in this section "natural cause" means anact occasioned exclusively by the violence of nature where all human agency isexcluded from creating or contributing to the cause of the damage or injury.

 

(d) Any insurer which violates the provisions of this sectionshall be subject to the procedures and penalties provided under this code. Following the procedures in this code, the commissioner may order thereinstatement, with no lapse in coverage, of any policy cancelled or nonrenewedin violation of this section.

 

26-23-108. Restrictions on underwriting for homeowner policies.

 

(a) No insurer shall cancel, refuse to renew or offer to renewat a higher premium a homeowner's insurance policy based in any manner upon theclaims history of a named insured unless the claims history excludes customerinquiries. Customer inquiries are defined as telephone calls or other requestsfor information made by the named insured or a person who would be a namedinsured under the policy, that reference the terms, conditions or coverageafforded under an insurance contract and do not result in claims being filed orpaid.

 

(b) Any insurer which violates the provisions of this sectionshall be subject to the procedures and penalties provided under this code. Following the procedures in this code, the commissioner may order thereinstatement, with no lapse in coverage, of any policy cancelled or nonrenewedin violation of this section. If the commissioner finds a policy was renewedat a higher premium in violation of this section he may order the return of anyunauthorized increase in premium together with interest at a rate of tenpercent (10%) per year.

 

ARTICLE 2 - CASUALTY AND SURETY INSURANCE CONTRACTS

 

26-23-201. Casualty and surety contracts subject to provisions of code.

 

 

(a) The following insurance contracts covering subjects ofinsurance resident, located or to be performed in this state are subject to theapplicable provisions of chapter 15 and to other applicable provisions of thiscode:

 

(i) Casualty insurance contracts; and

 

(ii) Surety insurance contracts.

 

ARTICLE 3 - TITLE INSURANCE

 

26-23-301. Short title.

 

Thisarticle is known and may be cited as the "Wyoming Title InsuranceAct".

 

26-23-302. Applicability of article; construction with other laws.

 

 

(a) This article applies to all title insurers, title insurancerating organizations, title agents, applicants for title insurance, titleinsurance policyholders, and all persons engaged in title insurancetransactions in this state.

 

(b) Except as otherwise expressly provided in this article, andexcept where the context otherwise requires, all provisions of this codeapplying to insurance and insurance companies generally apply to titleinsurance and title insurance companies.

 

(c) Nothing in this article shall be construed to authorize thepractice of law by any person who is not admitted to practice law in this statenor shall it be construed to authorize the commissioner to regulate thepractice of law.

 

26-23-303. Definitions.

 

 

(a) As used in this article:

 

(i) "Alien title insurer" means any title insurerincorporated or organized under the laws of any foreign nation or any province orterritory thereof;

 

(ii) "Applicant" means a person, whether or not aprospective insured, who applies to a title insurer or title agent for a titleinsurance policy and who, at the time of the application, is not a title agent;

 

(iii) "Approved attorney" means an attorney at law whois not an agent or employee of a title insurer and whose certification as tostatus of title a title insurer is willing to accept as the basis for issuanceof its title insurance policy;

 

(iv) "Associate" means any:

 

(A) Business organized for profit in which a producer of titlebusiness is a director, officer, partner, employee or owner of five percent(5%) or more of the equity capital thereof;

 

(B) Employee of a producer of title business;

 

(C) Franchisor or franchisee of a producer of title business;

 

(D) Spouse, parent or child of a producer of title business whois a natural person;

 

(E) Person, other than a natural person, that controls, iscontrolled by or is under common control with a producer of title business; or

 

(F) Person with whom a producer of title business or anyassociate of such producer has any agreement, arrangement or understanding, orpursues any course of conduct, the purpose or substantial effect of which is toevade the provisions of this article.

 

(v) "Charge" means any fee billed by a title agent ortitle insurer or both for the performance of services, other than fees thatfall within the definition of premium in paragraph (a)(xiv) of this section andincludes but is not limited to fees for document preparation, fees for thehandling of escrows, settlements or closings and fees for services commencedbut not completed. "Charge" does not include fees collected by atitle insurer or title agent in an escrow, settlement or closing when the feesare limited to the amount billed for services rendered by an entity independentof the title insurer or title agent;

 

(vi) "Controlled business" means any portion of atitle insurer's or title agent's business of title insurance in this state,referred to it by any producer of title business or by any associate of suchproducer, if the producer of title business, the associate, or both, have afinancial interest in the title insurer or title agent to which business isreferred;

 

(vii) "Domestic title insurer" means a title insurerorganized under the laws of this state;

 

(viii) "Escrow, settlement or closing fee" means theconsideration for supervising the actual execution, delivery or recording oftransfer and lien documents and for disbursing funds;

 

(ix) "Financial interest" means any interest thatentitles the holder in any manner to five percent (5%) or more of the netprofits or net worth of the entity in which the interest is held;

 

(x) "Foreign title insurer" means any title insurerorganized under the laws of any other state of the United States, the Districtof Columbia or any other jurisdiction of the United States;

 

(xi) "Gross operating revenue" means all premiumsreceived by a title insurer or title agent;

 

(xii) "Net retained liability" means the totalliability retained by a title insurer for a single risk, after taking intoaccount the deduction for ceded liability, if any;

 

(xiii) "Person" means any natural person, partnership,association, cooperative, corporation, trust or other legal entity;

 

(xiv) "Premium" means fees for:

 

(A) Issuing a title insurance policy, including any servicecharge administration fee for the issuance of a title insurance policy;

 

(B) Abstracting, searching and examining title when conductedor performed in contemplation of or in conjunction with the issuance of a titleinsurance policy;

 

(C) Preparing or issuing preliminary reports, propertyprofiles, commitments, binders or like products;

 

(D) Assuming liability under a contract of reinsurance.

 

(xv) "Producer of title business" or"producer" means any person, including any officer, director or ownerof five percent (5%) or more of the equity or capital of any person engaged inthis state in the trade, business, occupation or profession of:

 

(A) Buying or selling interests in real property;

 

(B) Making loans secured by interests in real property; or

 

(C) Acting as broker, agent, representative or attorney of aperson who buys or sells any interest in real property or who lends or borrowsmoney with such interest as security.

 

(xvi) "Refer" means to direct or cause to be directedor to exercise any power or influence over the direction of title insurancebusiness, whether or not the consent or approval of any other person is soughtor obtained with respect to the referral;

 

(xvii) "Report", subject to the stated exceptions setforth therein, issued prior to the issuance of a policy, means a"preliminary report", "commitment", or "binder"and constitutes a statement of the terms and conditions upon which the insureris willing to issue its policy but is not a title policy. Neither a titlepolicy nor a report issued prior to the issuance of a title insurance policy isan abstract of title;

 

(xviii) "Single risk" means the insured amount of anytitle insurance policy, except that if two (2) or more title insurance policiesare issued simultaneously covering different estates in the same real property,"single risk" means the sum of the insured amounts of all such titleinsurance policies. Any title insurance policy insuring a mortgage interest aclaim payment under which reduces the insured amount of a fee or leaseholdtitle insurance policy shall be excluded in computing the amount of a singlerisk to the extent that the insured amount of the mortgagee title insurancepolicy does not exceed the insured amount of the fee or leasehold titleinsurance policy;

 

(xix) "Title agent" or "agent" means anyperson authorized in writing by a title insurer to do any of the following butdoes not include approved attorneys, officers or employees of a title insurer:

 

(A) Solicit title insurance business;

 

(B) Collect premiums;

 

(C) Determine insurability in accordance with underwritingrules and standards prescribed by the title insurer; or

 

(D) Issue policies of the title insurer.

 

(xx) "Title insurance business" or "business oftitle insurance" means:

 

(A) Issuing as insurer or offering to issue as insurer a titleinsurance policy;

 

(B) Transacting or proposing to transact by a title insurer ortitle agent any of the following activities when conducted or performed incontemplation of the issuance of a title insurance policy:

 

(I) Soliciting or negotiating the issuance of a title insurancepolicy;

 

(II) Guaranteeing, warranting or otherwise insuring thecorrectness of title searches;

 

(III) Handling of escrows, settlements or closings;

 

(IV) Execution of title insurance policies;

 

(V) Effecting contracts of reinsurance;

 

(VI) Abstracting, searching or examining titles; or

 

(VII) Doing or proposing to do any business in substanceequivalent to any of the businesses specified in subdivisions (I) through (VI)of this subparagraph in a manner designed to evade the provisions of thisarticle.

 

(xxi) "Title insurance policy" or "policy"means a contract wherein, subject to the stated terms and conditions, a titleinsurer insures, guarantees or indemnifies owners of real or personal propertyor the holders of liens or encumbrances thereon or others interested therein againstloss or damage suffered by reason of:

 

(A) Defects in, adverse claims, liens or encumbrances in thetitle to the stated property;

 

(B) Unmarketability of the title to the stated property;

 

(C) Guaranteeing, warranting or otherwise insuring by a titleinsurance company the correctness of searches relating to the title toproperty;

 

(D) Defects in the authorization, execution or delivery of anencumbrance upon such property;

 

(E) The insuring by a title insurance company the validity andenforceability of evidences of indebtedness secured by an encumbrance upon thetitle or interest in such property;

 

(F) The invalidity, unenforceability or loss of priority of aninsured mortgage resulting from a change in rate of interest or principal balance,or both, which change is in accordance with the provisions of the insuredmortgage.

 

(xxii) "Title insurer" or "insurer" means acompany organized under laws of this state for the purpose of transacting asinsurer the business of title insurance and any foreign or alien title insurerengaged in this state in the business of title insurance as insurer;

 

(xxiii) "Title plant" means a set of records in which anentry has been made of documents or matters imparting constructive notice underthe law of matters affecting title to real property or any interest therein orencumbrance thereon, which have been filed or recorded in the jurisdiction forwhich the title plant is maintained.

 

26-23-304. Corporate form required.

 

Noperson other than a domestic, foreign or alien title insurer organized on thestock plan and licensed under this code shall transact title insurance businessas an insurer in this state.

 

26-23-305. Title insurers; authorized activities.

 

 

(a) Each title insurer may:

 

(i) Engage in the title insurance business in this state iflicensed to do so by the commissioner;

 

(ii) Subject to the limitations of this article, provide anyother service related or incidental to the sale and transfer of property; or

 

(iii) Conduct its operations on a direct basis through a branchoffice located within the state without using a title agent.

 

26-23-306. Limitations on powers.

 

 

(a) An insurer that transacts any class or kind of insuranceother than title insurance is not eligible for a license to transact thebusiness of title insurance in this state, nor for the renewal thereof, norshall title insurance be transacted, underwritten or issued by any insurertransacting or licensed to transact any other kind of insurance.

 

(b) An insurer shall not engage in the business of guaranteeingpayment of the principal or the interest of bonds or mortgages.

 

(c) An insurer shall not engage in the business of guaranteeingthe obligations of other persons other than issuing insured closing letterscovering its agents in the normal course of business.

 

26-23-307. Single risk limitation.

 

 

(a) The net retained liability of a title insurer for a singlerisk on property located in this state, whether assumed directly or asreinsurance, shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the sum of its totalsurplus to policyholders and reinsurance reserve, less the value assigned totitle plants, as shown in the insurer's most recent annual statement on file inthe commissioner's office.

 

(b) The commissioner may waive the limitation of this sectionfor a particular risk upon application of the insurer and for good cause shown.

 

26-23-308. Underwriting standards; record retention.

 

 

(a) No title insurance policy as to property in this stateshall be written unless it is based upon adequate evidence of the currentcondition of title certified in writing as of the date of the policy by aperson duly authorized under W.S. 33-2-101 to act as a title abstractor in thecounty where the property is situated, or based upon the opinion of an attorneyauthorized to practice law in this state as to the condition of the titlefollowing a review by the attorney of pertinent title records or abstracts.Evidence of the examination of title and determination of insurability shall bepreserved and retained in the files of the title insurer or its title agent fora period of not less than fifteen (15) years after the title insurance policyhas been issued. Instead of retaining the original evidence, the title insureror title agent, in the regular course of business, may establish a systemwhereby all or part of the evidence is recorded, copied or reproduced by anyprocess that accurately and legibly reproduces or forms a durable medium forreproducing the contents of the original. This subsection does not apply to atitle insurer:

 

(i) Assuming liability through a contract of reinsurance; or

 

(ii) Acting as coinsurer if one (1) of the other coinsuringtitle insurers has complied with this section.

 

(b) Except as allowed by regulations the commissionerpromulgates, no title insurer or title agent shall knowingly issue any titleinsurance policy or commitment to insure without showing all outstanding,enforceable, recorded liens or other interests against the property, title towhich is to be insured.

 

26-23-309. Reinsurance reserve.

 

(a) A domestic title insurer shall establish and maintain areinsurance reserve computed in accordance with this section, and all sumsattributed to that reserve are considered and constitute unearned portions ofthe original premiums. This reserve shall be reported as a liability of thetitle insurer in its financial statements.

 

(b) The reinsurance reserve shall be maintained by the titleinsurer for the protection of holders of title insurance policies. Except asprovided in this section, assets equal in value to the reinsurance reserve arenot subject to distribution among creditors or stockholders of the titleinsurer until all claims of policyholders or claims under reinsurance contractshave been paid in full, and all liability on the policies or reinsurancecontracts has been paid in full and discharged or lawfully reinsured.

 

(c) A foreign or alien title insurance company licensed totransact title insurance business in this state shall maintain at least thesame reserves on title insurance policies issued on properties located in thisstate as are required of domestic title insurance companies, unless the laws ofthe jurisdiction of domicile of the foreign or alien title insurance company requirea higher amount.

 

(d) The reinsurance reserve shall consist of:

 

(i) The amount of the reinsurance reserve on May 27, 1983; and

 

(ii) A sum equal to twenty cents ($.20) for each one thousanddollars ($1,000.00) of net retained liability under each title insurance policyon a single risk written on properties located in this state written after May27, 1983.

 

(e) Amounts placed in the reinsurance reserve in any year inaccordance with paragraph (d)(ii) of this section shall be deducted in determiningthe net profit of the title insurer for that year.

 

(f) A title insurer shall release from the reinsurance reservea sum equal to the appropriate amount as set forth in the most recent NationalAssociation of Insurance Commissioners' accounting practices and proceduresmanual. The amount of the reinsurance reserve or similar unearned premiumreserve maintained before July 1, 2001, shall be released in accordance withthe law in effect at the time such reserves became effective.

 

26-23-310. Use of reinsurance reserve on liquidation, dissolution orinsolvency.

 

 

(a) If a domestic title insurer becomes insolvent, is in theprocess of liquidation of dissolution or is in the commissioner's possession:

 

(i) The amount of the assets of the title insurance companyequal to the reinsurance reserve then remaining may be used by or with thecommissioner's written approval to pay for reinsurance of the title insurer'sliability upon all outstanding title insurance policies or reinsuranceagreements to the extent to which claims for losses by the holders thereof arenot then pending. The balance of assets, if any, equal to the reinsurancereserve may then be transferred to the title insurer's general assets;

 

(ii) The assets net of the reinsurance reserve shall beavailable to pay claims for losses sustained by holders of title insurancepolicies then pending or arising up to the time reinsurance is effected. Ifclaims for losses exceed the title insurer's other assets those claims, whenestablished, shall be paid pro rata out of the surplus assets attributable tothe reinsurance reserve, to the extent of the surplus, if any.

 

(b) If reinsurance is not obtained, assets equal to thereinsurance reserve and assets constituting minimum capital, or so much as remainsthereof after outstanding claims have been paid, constitute a trust fund to beheld and invested by the commissioner for twenty (20) years, out of whichclaims of policyholders shall be paid as they arise. The balance, if any, ofthe trust fund, at the expiration of twenty (20) years, shall revert to thegeneral assets of the title insurer.

 

26-23-311. Loss and loss expense reserve.

 

 

(a) All title insurers licensed in this state shall establishand maintain reserves against unpaid losses and loss expenses.

 

(b) Upon receiving notice from or on behalf of the insured of atitle defect in or lien or adverse claim against the title of the insured thatmay result in a loss or cause expense to be incurred in the proper dispositionof the claim, the title insurer shall determine the amount to be added to thereserve, which amount shall reflect a careful estimate of the loss or lossexpense likely to result by reason of the claim.

 

(c) Reserves required under this section may be revised fromtime to time and shall be redetermined at least once each year.

 

26-23-312. Reinsurance.

 

 

(a) A title insurer may obtain reinsurance for all or any partof its liability under one (1) or more of its title insurance policies orreinsurance agreements and may also reinsure title insurance policies issued byother title insurers on risks located in this state or elsewhere. Reinsuranceon policies issued on properties located in this state must be obtained fromtitle insurers licensed to transact title insurance business in this state.

 

(b) Upon application by a title insurer, the commissioner maypermit the insurer to obtain reinsurance from a title insurer not licensed inthis state if:

 

(i) The title insurer is unable to obtain reinsurance from atitle insurer licensed in this state; and

 

(ii) The capital and surplus of the unlicensed title insurermeet the requirements for licensed companies under this code.

 

26-23-313. Investments.

 

 

(a) Except as otherwise expressly provided in this section, thegeneral investment provisions of chapter 7 of this code apply to all domestictitle insurers.

 

(b) A domestic title insurer may invest and have invested fundsin an amount not exceeding its surplus to policyholders or three hundredthousand dollars ($300,000.00), whichever is the larger sum, in title plantsand equipment and in stocks of abstract companies.

 

(c) Investment in plants, equipment and abstract company sharesauthorized by this section shall not be credited against the insurer's requiredreinsurance reserves.

 

(d) Any investment of a domestic title insurer acquired beforeMay 27, 1983, and which, under this section, would be considered ineligible asan investment on that date shall be disposed of before May 27, 1985. Thecommissioner, upon application and proof that forced sale of any suchinvestment would be contrary to the best interests of the title insurer or itspolicyholders, may extend the period for disposal of the investment for areasonable time.

 

26-23-314. Conditions for providing escrow, closing or settlementservices, or maintaining title indemnification accounts.

 

 

(a) A title insurer or title agent may engage in the escrow,settlement, or closing business, or any combination of such businesses, andoperate as an escrow, settlement, or closing agent, provided that:

 

(i) Funds deposited in connection with any escrow, settlement,closing or title indemnification shall be deposited in a separate fiduciarytrust account or accounts in a bank or other financial institution insured byan agency of the federal government. These funds are the property of the personor persons entitled thereto under the provisions of the escrow, settlement,closing or title indemnification and shall be segregated by escrow, settlement,closing or title indemnification in the records of the title insurer or titleagent. Those funds are not subject to any debts of the title insurer or titleagent and shall be used only in accordance with the terms of the individualescrow, settlement, closing or title indemnification under which the funds wereaccepted;

 

(ii) Interest received on funds deposited with the title insureror title agent in connection with any escrow, settlement, closing or titleindemnification shall be paid to the depositing party unless the instructionsprovide otherwise;

 

(iii) The title insurer or title agent shall maintain separaterecords of all receipts and disbursements of escrow, settlement, closing ortitle indemnification funds.

 

26-23-315. Identification of title agents.

 

Atitle insurer shall provide to the commissioner on an annual basis a list ofall of its title agents within this state.

 

26-23-316. Title agents; license required; requirements as to license.

 

 

(a) No person shall act as a title agent unless licensed inaccordance with this article.

 

(b) No license shall be issued to, continued or permitted toexist for any person to act as a title agent unless the person:

 

(i) Is at least eighteen (18) years of age;

 

(ii) Is a bona fide resident of and resides within this state orany other state which has entered into a reciprocal title agent licensingagreement with the commissioner;

 

(iii) Is appointed as a title agent by a title insurer, subjectto the issuance of the title agent's license;

 

(iv) Passes an examination given by the commissioner or anytesting service selected by the commissioner covering the search andexamination of title to real property, insurance principles relating to titleinsurance and the fiduciary duties and procedures of escrows, closings and settlementsof real estate transactions.

 

(c) Any person, other than a natural person, to whom a titleinsurance agent's license is issued shall designate to the commissioner thosenatural persons who are or will be exercising the powers and performing the dutiesof the title insurance agent. The designated individuals are subject toparagraphs (b)(i) and (iii) of this section. Persons performing only clericalfunctions are not subject to the requirements of subsection (b) of thissection.

 

(d) Any person, other than a natural person, to whom a titleinsurance agent's license is issued shall demonstrate that each natural persondesignated to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the title insuranceagent meets the requirements of subsection (b) of this section.

 

26-23-317. Title agents; application for license.

 

(a) Application for a license to act as a title agent shall bemade in writing in the form and manner the commissioner prescribes. Anapplication fee, as provided by W.S. 26-4-101, shall be paid at the time ofapplication.

 

(b) The application is a continuing one, and any prospectivelicensee or licensees shall inform the commissioner promptly if any informationset forth in the application changes or is no longer accurate, or if any otherrelevant information regarding the application arises after the originalapplication.

 

26-23-318. Title agents; issuance of license; expiration; renewal.

 

(a) The commissioner shall issue a license to act as a titleagent to any person if:

 

(i) The prospective licensee files an application pursuant toW.S. 26-23-317;

 

(ii) The prospective licensee meets the requirements of W.S.26-23-316; and

 

(iii) The prospective licensee provides the commissioner withevidence of financial responsibility in the form and in a minimum amount thecommissioner requires by regulation.

 

(b) Each title agent's license expires on the last day of themonth of the licensee's birthday in the second year following the issuance orrenewal of the license, and may be renewed by the commissioner upon filing bythe licensee, prior to the expiration of his license, of a properly completedrenewal application in the form the commissioner prescribes, and upon paymentof a renewal fee as provided by W.S. 26-4-101.

 

26-23-319. Title agents; records.

 

 

(a) A title agent shall keep books of account and records andvouchers pertaining to any business transacted under this article. All recordsshall be maintained in a manner that the commissioner may readily ascertainfrom time to time whether the title agent has complied with all applicableprovisions of this article.

 

(b) The commissioner, at any time during normal business hours,may examine, audit and inspect books and records maintained by title agentsunder this article.

 

26-23-320. Title agents; report of claims.

 

 

(a) A title agent shall immediately report every loss claim tothe title insurer that issued the policy against which the claim is presented.

 

(b) No title agent shall indemnify or pay the claim of anyinsured.

 

26-23-321. Title agents; refusal, suspension or revocation of license;fine instead of suspension.

 

 

(a) In addition to any other grounds stated in this article,the commissioner may refuse to license any person as a title agent, or maysuspend a title agent's license, after providing due notice and an opportunityto be heard, upon a finding that the person:

 

(i) Fails to meet the qualifications for licensure under thiscode;

 

(ii) Has violated any provision of this code or any rule orregulation of the commissioner;

 

(iii) Has made a material misstatement in an application for atitle insurance agent's license or has obtained a title insurance agent'slicense by fraud or willful misrepresentation;

 

(iv) Has misappropriated or converted to his own use fundsbelonging to applicants, insureds, title insurers, escrow participants orothers;

 

(v) Has intentionally misrepresented the terms of a titleinsurance policy to any applicant or policyholder or has misrepresentedmaterial facts to, concealed material facts from or made false statements toany party to an escrow, settlement or closing transaction;

 

(vi) Has in the conduct of his affairs under his title insuranceagent's license, used fraudulent, coercive or dishonest practices or has shownhimself to be incompetent, untrustworthy, financially irresponsible or a sourceof injury and loss to the public; or

 

(vii) Has aided, abetted or assisted another person in violatingthis article or any rule or regulation promulgated under this article.

 

(b) The commissioner may revoke the title agent's license ofany person convicted by final judgment of a felony.

 

(c) In addition to or without imposing the penalties specifiedin subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the commissioner may impose a finein an amount not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) foreach violation of this section or of any rule or regulation promulgated underthis section.

 

(d) Any of the penalties provided under this section may beimposed on a title agent other than a natural person for action of individualsdesignated by that insurance agent.

 

26-23-322. Rebates and inducements prohibited.

 

 

(a) No title insurer or title agent shall:

 

(i) Pay in any manner to any person any commission, any part ofits premiums, fees or other charges or any other consideration as inducement orcompensation for the referral of title business or for performance of anyescrow or other service by the title insurer or title agent;

 

(ii) Issue any title insurance policy or perform any service inconnection with any transaction in which it has paid or intends to pay anycommission, rebate or inducement which it knows to be in violation of thissection.

 

(b) No person shall knowingly receive or accept in any manner,any commission, rebate or inducement referred to in subsection (a) of thissection.

 

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibitingreasonable payments, other than for the referral of title insurance business,for services actually rendered to either a title insurer or a title agent inconnection with title insurance business.

 

26-23-323. Division of premiums and charges.

 

 

(a) Nothing in this article shall be construed as prohibitingthe division of premiums and charges between or among a title insurer and itstitle agent, two (2) or more title insurers, one (1) or more title insurers andone (1) or more title agents or two (2) or more title agents, provided thedivision of premiums and charges does not constitute:

 

(i) An unlawful rebate or inducement under this article; or

 

(ii) Payment of a forwarding fee or finder's fee.

 

26-23-324. Favored title agent or insurer.

 

 

(a) No producer or other person shall require in any manner asa condition, agreement or understanding to selling or furnishing any otherperson any loan or extension thereof, credit, sale, property, contract, leaseor service, that such other person shall place any contract of title insuranceof any kind through any particular title agent or title insurer. No title agentor title insurer shall knowingly participate in any such prohibited plan ortransaction. No person shall fix a price charged for such thing or service, ordiscount from or rebate upon price, on the condition, agreement orunderstanding that any title insurance is to be obtained through a particulartitle agent or title insurer.

 

(b) Any producer or other person who violates this section, orany title insurer or title agent who accepts an order for title insuranceknowing that it is in violation of this section, in addition to any otheraction which may be taken by the regulatory authority having jurisdiction, issubject to a fine by the commissioner in an amount equal to five (5) times thepremium for the title insurance.

 

(c) The commissioner may invoke the aid of the courts inenforcing any fines imposed under this section.

 

26-23-325. Premium rate standards.

 

 

(a) Premium rates shall not be inadequate, excessive orunfairly discriminatory.

 

(b) Rates are excessive if in the aggregate they are likely toproduce a long run profit that is unreasonably high in relation to theriskiness of the class of business, or if expenses are unreasonably high inrelation to the services rendered.

 

(c) Rates are inadequate if they are clearly insufficient,together with investment income attributable to them, to sustain projectedlosses and expenses, or if the continued use of such rates will have the effectof substantially lessening competition or the effect of tending to create amonopoly.

 

(d) Premium rates are unfairly discriminatory if the premiumcharged for any classification is not reasonably related to the servicesperformed or the risks assumed by the insurer, provided within rateclassifications, premiums, to a reasonable degree, may be less in the case of smallerinsurances and the excess may be charged against larger insurances withoutrendering the rate unfairly discriminatory.

 

(e) In making or reviewing rates, consideration shall be givento past and prospective loss experience, to exposure to loss, to underwritingpractice and judgment, to past and prospective expenses including amounts paidto or retained by title agents, to investment income, to a reasonable marginfor profit and contingencies and to any other relevant factors both within andoutside of this state.

 

(f) The commissioner may promulgate rules or regulationssetting forth guidelines for evaluation of rates. These regulations may includeconsideration of:

 

(i) Costs of underwriting risks assumed by the insurer;

 

(ii) Amounts paid to or retained by title agents;

 

(iii) Operating expenses of the insurer other than underwritingand claims expenses;

 

(iv) Payment of claims and claim related expenses;

 

(v) Investment income;

 

(vi) Reasonable profit;

 

(vii) Premium taxes; and

 

(viii) Any other factors the commissioner deems relevant.

 

26-23-326. Premium rate schedules.

 

 

(a) A title insurer shall file with the commissioner thepremium rate schedules it proposes to use in this state. If the commissionerfinds in his review of a filing that it does not violate W.S. 26-23-325, heshall approve the schedule within thirty (30) days of filing. Prior to suchapproval, the commissioner may conduct public hearings with respect to thefiling. Filings that the commissioner fails to approve or disapprove withinthirty (30) days of filing are approved. Upon notice to the title insurer, theperiod for review of rate filing may be extended for an additional thirty (30)days. If within the waiting period or extension thereof the commissioner findsthat the filing does violate W.S. 26-23-325, he shall give written notice ofdisapproval of the filing to the insurer or rating organization which made thefiling, specifying therein in what specific respects he finds the filingviolates W.S. 26-23-325 and stating that the filing shall not become effective.

 

(b) If at any time after the approval of filing, thecommissioner believes that the filing does not meet the requirements of thissection or is otherwise contrary to law, or if any party having an interest inthe filing makes a written complaint to the commissioner setting forth specificand reasonable grounds for the complaint, or if any insurer, upon notice ofdisapproval by the commissioner of a filing pursuant to this section, requests,the commissioner shall hold a hearing within thirty (30) days and shall givewritten notice of the hearing to all parties in interest. The commissioner mayconfirm, modify, change or rescind any previous action, if warranted by thefacts shown at the hearing.

 

(c) No title insurer or title agent shall use or collect anypremium after May 27, 1983, except in accordance with the premium rate schedulefiled with and approved by the commissioner as required by this section. Thecommissioner may provide by regulation for interim use of premium rateschedules in effect prior to May 27, 1983.

 

26-23-327. Publication of schedules of premiums and charges.

 

 

(a) Each title insurer and title agent shall print and makeavailable to the public schedules of its currently effective premiums andcharges.

 

(b) The schedules shall:

 

(i) Be dated to show the date the premiums and charges becameeffective;

 

(ii) Be kept available to the public during normal businesshours in each office of the title insurer or title agent in this state; and

 

(iii) Set forth the total premium and charge for each type oftitle insurance policy or service issued or provided by the title insurer ortitle agent either by stating the premium or charge for each type of titleinsurance policy in given amounts of coverage or for each service, or bystating the premium or charge rate per unit amount of coverage, or by acombination of the two.

 

(c) Each title insurer and title agent shall keep a completefile of its schedules of premium and charges and of all changes and amendmentsto those schedules until at least five (5) years after they cease to be ineffect.

 

26-23-328. Form filing.

 

 

(a) A title insurer shall file with the commissioner any formsit proposes to use in this state, including:

 

(i) Title insurance policies, including standard formendorsements;

 

(ii) "Preliminary reports", "commitments","binders" or any other reports issued prior to the issuance of atitle insurance policy.

 

(b) If the commissioner finds in his review of a filing that itdoes not violate W.S. 26-23-329, he shall approve the form within thirty (30)days of filing. Prior to such approval, the commissioner may conduct publichearings with respect to the filing. Filings that the commissioner has failedto approve or disapprove within thirty (30) days of filing are deemed approved.Upon notice to the title insurer, the period for review of a form filing may beextended for an additional thirty (30) days. If, within the waiting period orextension thereof, the commissioner finds that the filing does violate W.S.26-23-329, he shall give written notice of disapproval of the filing to theinsurer or rating organization which made the filing, specifying therein inwhat specific respects he finds the filing violates W.S. 26-23-329 and statingthat the filing shall not become effective.

 

(c) A title insurer need not file reinsurance contracts andagreements.

 

(d) No title insurer may issue, directly or through a titleagent, any policy after May 27, 1983, unless the policy form has been approvedpursuant to this section. The commissioner may provide by regulation forinterim use of forms in effect prior to May 27, 1983.

 

26-23-329. Form standards.

 

 

(a) The commissioner shall approve any form filed under W.S.26-23-328 only if the form:

 

(i) Is written in simple language logically and clearlyarranged and is understandable to a person of normal intelligence withoutspecial insurance or legal knowledge or training;

 

(ii) Does not contain or incorporate by reference anyinconsistent, ambiguous or misleading clauses, exceptions or conditionsdeceptively affecting the risk purported to be assumed in the affirmativecoverage of the contract;

 

(iii) Does not contain any misleading title, heading or otherindication of its coverage;

 

(iv) Is not printed or otherwise reproduced in such a manner asto render any provision of the form substantially illegible; and

 

(v) Is otherwise in compliance with this code.

 

26-23-330. Endorsements.

 

Anyapproved policy form or endorsement providing any coverage for which noidentifiable premium is assessed shall be incorporated in every policy of titleinsurance of the type to which the form or endorsement pertains issued by theinsurer offering the approved form or endorsements. The insurer shall discloseany such additional coverage to the insured. This section does not operate toeliminate any underwriting standard or conditions relating to the approvedpolicy forms or endorsements.

 

26-23-331. Notice of issuance of mortgagee policy.

 

 

(a) A title insurer or title agent that issues a mortgagee'spolicy of title insurance on a loan made simultaneous to the purchase of all orpart of the residential property securing the loan, if no owner's policy hasbeen ordered, shall inform the borrower in writing that the mortgagee's policyis to be issued, that the mortgagee's policy does not protect the borrower andthat the borrower may obtain an owner's title insurance policy for hisprotection. This notice shall be provided before disbursement of the loanproceeds and before issuance of the mortgagee's policy. The notice shall be ona form the commissioner prescribes.

 

(b) If the borrower elects not to purchase an owner's titleinsurance policy, the title insurer or title agent shall obtain from him astatement in writing that the notice has been received and that the borrowerwaives the right to purchase an owner's title insurance policy. If the buyerrefuses to provide the statement and waiver, the title insurer or title agentshall so note in the file. The statement and waiver shall be on a form thecommissioner prescribes, and shall be retained by the title insurer or titleagent for at least five (5) years after receipt.

 

26-23-332. Filing by rating bureaus permitted.

 

 

(a) A title insurer may satisfy its obligation to make premiumrate and form filings as required by this article by becoming a member of, or asubscriber to, a rating organization organized and licensed under this code,which organization makes such filings, and by authorizing the commissioner inwriting to accept those filings on its behalf.

 

(b) Nothing in this article shall be construed as:

 

(i) Requiring any title insurer to become a member of, or asubscriber to, any rating organization; or

 

(ii) Prohibiting the filing of deviations from ratingorganization filings by any member or subscriber.

 

26-23-333. Regulations.

 

 

(a) In addition to any other powers granted under this article,the commissioner may adopt rules or regulations to protect the interests of thepublic including but not limited to regulations governing:

 

(i) Sales practices;

 

(ii) Policy coverage standards;

 

(iii) Rebates and inducements;

 

(iv) Controlled business;

 

(v) Unfair trade practices and fraud;

 

(vi) Statistical plans for data collection;

 

(vii) Consumer education;

 

(viii) Any other consumer matters;

 

(ix) The business of title insurance; or

 

(x) Any regulations otherwise implementing or interpreting thisarticle.

 

26-23-334. Enforcement.

 

 

(a) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this article,any person who violates this article in addition to or instead of suspension orrevocation of the violator's license, is subject to a civil penalty of fivehundred dollars ($500.00) per violation. For purposes of this article eachindividual transaction which is not in conformance with this article isconsidered a violation.

 

(b) This article is enforceable only by the commissioner andshall not create any private cause of action or other private legal recourse.

 

(c) The commissioner may invoke the aid of the courts inenforcing this article.

 

26-23-335. Filing of schedule of risk rates; attaching schedule ofrates and charges to policy.

 

Eachtitle insurer shall file with the commissioner a complete schedule of rates foror in connection with title insurance as to property located in this state. Theschedule shall set forth the entire premium to be charged to the public foreach type of policy included within the schedule and shall include withoutseparate statement the portion of the charge for risk assumption and theportion which is based on work performed in the search and examination of thetitle. There shall be no separate filing by an agent of the title insurer.

 

26-23-336. Mortgagee policies.

 

Ifa title insurance policy is issued insuring the title to real estate only as toa mortgagee, the insurer shall conspicuously show on the face of the policy andon any evidence thereof delivered to the mortgagor that coverage is limited tothe interest of the mortgagee only.

 

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > Wyoming > Title26 > Chapter23

CHAPTER 23 - CASUALTY INSURANCE, SURETY INSURANCE AND TITLEINSURANCE

 

ARTICLE 1 - PROPERTY INSURANCE CONTRACTS

 

26-23-101. Overinsurance prohibited.

 

 

(a) No person shall buy insurance on property within this statefor an amount which, together with any existing insurance, exceeds the fairvalue of the property or of the interest of the insured therein. This provisiondoes not apply as to insurance of replacement value.

 

(b) Anyone who willfully violates this section is subject tothe penalties provided in W.S. 26-1-107.

 

26-23-102. Adjuster's reports of overinsurance and causes of fire; reportsdeemed privileged communications.

 

(a) Any adjuster who investigates any property loss claim inthis state shall report to the commissioner in writing any overinsurance of theproperty he discovers.

 

(b) Any adjuster who investigates any property fire loss inthis state shall report in writing to the commissioner the origin and cause ofthe fire, so far as he can reasonably ascertain them, together with anycircumstances which in his opinion may indicate fraud or attempted fraud.

 

(c) Any report submitted to the commissioner under thissection, together with any accompanying information, document, record orstatement, is an absolutely privileged communication. The report may bedisclosed as authorized by and in accordance with the provisions of W.S.26-2-113(d).

 

26-23-103. Return of excess premium in certain cases of totaldestruction.

 

Ifthe insured property is totally destroyed and the total amount of loss is lessthan the total amount insured thereon as to the hazard causing the loss, the insurershall return to the insured at the time of payment of the loss the amount ofpremiums paid under the policy then in force for the excess of insurance overthe fair value of the property at the time of the loss. This section does notapply to insurance of replacement value.

 

26-23-104. Terms of policies; extension.

 

 

(a) No insurer shall issue a policy insuring property in thisstate for a term longer than five (5) years.

 

(b) The term of any such policy may be extended by certificateas provided in W.S. 26-15-121.

 

26-23-105. Exemptions.

 

W.S.26-23-101(a), 26-23-102 and 26-23-103 do not apply to insurance on stocks ofmerchandise or property of fluctuating values, if the reduced rate contributionclause is made a part of the policy. This chapter does not apply to wet marineand transportation insurance.

 

26-23-106. Use of insurance support organizations limited.

 

Thissection shall apply if an insurer uses for underwriting purposes for insurancepolicies information from a report provided by, or database maintained by, aninsurance support organization, or consumer reporting agency, related to thepremises that is the subject of the application or to the person applying forinsurance. Failure of the insurer, within forty-five (45) calendar days ofissuing a binder, to act upon the information referenced in this sectionprecludes the insurer from declining insurance coverage or terminating a binderof insurance coverage based on the information. Notwithstanding any other law,an insurer may decline or terminate insurance coverage based on the conditionof the premises as determined through a physical inspection of the premises.This section applies only to homeowner's insurance and does not apply to apolicy renewal.

 

26-23-107. Cancellation and nonrenewal of homeowner's insurancepolicies for natural causes restricted.

 

(a) No homeowner's insurance policy shall be denied renewal asa result of a single claim within a three (3) year period arising from naturalcauses.

 

(b) No homeowner's insurance policy shall be cancelled duringits term as a result of any claim arising from natural causes.

 

(c) As used in this section "natural cause" means anact occasioned exclusively by the violence of nature where all human agency isexcluded from creating or contributing to the cause of the damage or injury.

 

(d) Any insurer which violates the provisions of this sectionshall be subject to the procedures and penalties provided under this code. Following the procedures in this code, the commissioner may order thereinstatement, with no lapse in coverage, of any policy cancelled or nonrenewedin violation of this section.

 

26-23-108. Restrictions on underwriting for homeowner policies.

 

(a) No insurer shall cancel, refuse to renew or offer to renewat a higher premium a homeowner's insurance policy based in any manner upon theclaims history of a named insured unless the claims history excludes customerinquiries. Customer inquiries are defined as telephone calls or other requestsfor information made by the named insured or a person who would be a namedinsured under the policy, that reference the terms, conditions or coverageafforded under an insurance contract and do not result in claims being filed orpaid.

 

(b) Any insurer which violates the provisions of this sectionshall be subject to the procedures and penalties provided under this code. Following the procedures in this code, the commissioner may order thereinstatement, with no lapse in coverage, of any policy cancelled or nonrenewedin violation of this section. If the commissioner finds a policy was renewedat a higher premium in violation of this section he may order the return of anyunauthorized increase in premium together with interest at a rate of tenpercent (10%) per year.

 

ARTICLE 2 - CASUALTY AND SURETY INSURANCE CONTRACTS

 

26-23-201. Casualty and surety contracts subject to provisions of code.

 

 

(a) The following insurance contracts covering subjects ofinsurance resident, located or to be performed in this state are subject to theapplicable provisions of chapter 15 and to other applicable provisions of thiscode:

 

(i) Casualty insurance contracts; and

 

(ii) Surety insurance contracts.

 

ARTICLE 3 - TITLE INSURANCE

 

26-23-301. Short title.

 

Thisarticle is known and may be cited as the "Wyoming Title InsuranceAct".

 

26-23-302. Applicability of article; construction with other laws.

 

 

(a) This article applies to all title insurers, title insurancerating organizations, title agents, applicants for title insurance, titleinsurance policyholders, and all persons engaged in title insurancetransactions in this state.

 

(b) Except as otherwise expressly provided in this article, andexcept where the context otherwise requires, all provisions of this codeapplying to insurance and insurance companies generally apply to titleinsurance and title insurance companies.

 

(c) Nothing in this article shall be construed to authorize thepractice of law by any person who is not admitted to practice law in this statenor shall it be construed to authorize the commissioner to regulate thepractice of law.

 

26-23-303. Definitions.

 

 

(a) As used in this article:

 

(i) "Alien title insurer" means any title insurerincorporated or organized under the laws of any foreign nation or any province orterritory thereof;

 

(ii) "Applicant" means a person, whether or not aprospective insured, who applies to a title insurer or title agent for a titleinsurance policy and who, at the time of the application, is not a title agent;

 

(iii) "Approved attorney" means an attorney at law whois not an agent or employee of a title insurer and whose certification as tostatus of title a title insurer is willing to accept as the basis for issuanceof its title insurance policy;

 

(iv) "Associate" means any:

 

(A) Business organized for profit in which a producer of titlebusiness is a director, officer, partner, employee or owner of five percent(5%) or more of the equity capital thereof;

 

(B) Employee of a producer of title business;

 

(C) Franchisor or franchisee of a producer of title business;

 

(D) Spouse, parent or child of a producer of title business whois a natural person;

 

(E) Person, other than a natural person, that controls, iscontrolled by or is under common control with a producer of title business; or

 

(F) Person with whom a producer of title business or anyassociate of such producer has any agreement, arrangement or understanding, orpursues any course of conduct, the purpose or substantial effect of which is toevade the provisions of this article.

 

(v) "Charge" means any fee billed by a title agent ortitle insurer or both for the performance of services, other than fees thatfall within the definition of premium in paragraph (a)(xiv) of this section andincludes but is not limited to fees for document preparation, fees for thehandling of escrows, settlements or closings and fees for services commencedbut not completed. "Charge" does not include fees collected by atitle insurer or title agent in an escrow, settlement or closing when the feesare limited to the amount billed for services rendered by an entity independentof the title insurer or title agent;

 

(vi) "Controlled business" means any portion of atitle insurer's or title agent's business of title insurance in this state,referred to it by any producer of title business or by any associate of suchproducer, if the producer of title business, the associate, or both, have afinancial interest in the title insurer or title agent to which business isreferred;

 

(vii) "Domestic title insurer" means a title insurerorganized under the laws of this state;

 

(viii) "Escrow, settlement or closing fee" means theconsideration for supervising the actual execution, delivery or recording oftransfer and lien documents and for disbursing funds;

 

(ix) "Financial interest" means any interest thatentitles the holder in any manner to five percent (5%) or more of the netprofits or net worth of the entity in which the interest is held;

 

(x) "Foreign title insurer" means any title insurerorganized under the laws of any other state of the United States, the Districtof Columbia or any other jurisdiction of the United States;

 

(xi) "Gross operating revenue" means all premiumsreceived by a title insurer or title agent;

 

(xii) "Net retained liability" means the totalliability retained by a title insurer for a single risk, after taking intoaccount the deduction for ceded liability, if any;

 

(xiii) "Person" means any natural person, partnership,association, cooperative, corporation, trust or other legal entity;

 

(xiv) "Premium" means fees for:

 

(A) Issuing a title insurance policy, including any servicecharge administration fee for the issuance of a title insurance policy;

 

(B) Abstracting, searching and examining title when conductedor performed in contemplation of or in conjunction with the issuance of a titleinsurance policy;

 

(C) Preparing or issuing preliminary reports, propertyprofiles, commitments, binders or like products;

 

(D) Assuming liability under a contract of reinsurance.

 

(xv) "Producer of title business" or"producer" means any person, including any officer, director or ownerof five percent (5%) or more of the equity or capital of any person engaged inthis state in the trade, business, occupation or profession of:

 

(A) Buying or selling interests in real property;

 

(B) Making loans secured by interests in real property; or

 

(C) Acting as broker, agent, representative or attorney of aperson who buys or sells any interest in real property or who lends or borrowsmoney with such interest as security.

 

(xvi) "Refer" means to direct or cause to be directedor to exercise any power or influence over the direction of title insurancebusiness, whether or not the consent or approval of any other person is soughtor obtained with respect to the referral;

 

(xvii) "Report", subject to the stated exceptions setforth therein, issued prior to the issuance of a policy, means a"preliminary report", "commitment", or "binder"and constitutes a statement of the terms and conditions upon which the insureris willing to issue its policy but is not a title policy. Neither a titlepolicy nor a report issued prior to the issuance of a title insurance policy isan abstract of title;

 

(xviii) "Single risk" means the insured amount of anytitle insurance policy, except that if two (2) or more title insurance policiesare issued simultaneously covering different estates in the same real property,"single risk" means the sum of the insured amounts of all such titleinsurance policies. Any title insurance policy insuring a mortgage interest aclaim payment under which reduces the insured amount of a fee or leaseholdtitle insurance policy shall be excluded in computing the amount of a singlerisk to the extent that the insured amount of the mortgagee title insurancepolicy does not exceed the insured amount of the fee or leasehold titleinsurance policy;

 

(xix) "Title agent" or "agent" means anyperson authorized in writing by a title insurer to do any of the following butdoes not include approved attorneys, officers or employees of a title insurer:

 

(A) Solicit title insurance business;

 

(B) Collect premiums;

 

(C) Determine insurability in accordance with underwritingrules and standards prescribed by the title insurer; or

 

(D) Issue policies of the title insurer.

 

(xx) "Title insurance business" or "business oftitle insurance" means:

 

(A) Issuing as insurer or offering to issue as insurer a titleinsurance policy;

 

(B) Transacting or proposing to transact by a title insurer ortitle agent any of the following activities when conducted or performed incontemplation of the issuance of a title insurance policy:

 

(I) Soliciting or negotiating the issuance of a title insurancepolicy;

 

(II) Guaranteeing, warranting or otherwise insuring thecorrectness of title searches;

 

(III) Handling of escrows, settlements or closings;

 

(IV) Execution of title insurance policies;

 

(V) Effecting contracts of reinsurance;

 

(VI) Abstracting, searching or examining titles; or

 

(VII) Doing or proposing to do any business in substanceequivalent to any of the businesses specified in subdivisions (I) through (VI)of this subparagraph in a manner designed to evade the provisions of thisarticle.

 

(xxi) "Title insurance policy" or "policy"means a contract wherein, subject to the stated terms and conditions, a titleinsurer insures, guarantees or indemnifies owners of real or personal propertyor the holders of liens or encumbrances thereon or others interested therein againstloss or damage suffered by reason of:

 

(A) Defects in, adverse claims, liens or encumbrances in thetitle to the stated property;

 

(B) Unmarketability of the title to the stated property;

 

(C) Guaranteeing, warranting or otherwise insuring by a titleinsurance company the correctness of searches relating to the title toproperty;

 

(D) Defects in the authorization, execution or delivery of anencumbrance upon such property;

 

(E) The insuring by a title insurance company the validity andenforceability of evidences of indebtedness secured by an encumbrance upon thetitle or interest in such property;

 

(F) The invalidity, unenforceability or loss of priority of aninsured mortgage resulting from a change in rate of interest or principal balance,or both, which change is in accordance with the provisions of the insuredmortgage.

 

(xxii) "Title insurer" or "insurer" means acompany organized under laws of this state for the purpose of transacting asinsurer the business of title insurance and any foreign or alien title insurerengaged in this state in the business of title insurance as insurer;

 

(xxiii) "Title plant" means a set of records in which anentry has been made of documents or matters imparting constructive notice underthe law of matters affecting title to real property or any interest therein orencumbrance thereon, which have been filed or recorded in the jurisdiction forwhich the title plant is maintained.

 

26-23-304. Corporate form required.

 

Noperson other than a domestic, foreign or alien title insurer organized on thestock plan and licensed under this code shall transact title insurance businessas an insurer in this state.

 

26-23-305. Title insurers; authorized activities.

 

 

(a) Each title insurer may:

 

(i) Engage in the title insurance business in this state iflicensed to do so by the commissioner;

 

(ii) Subject to the limitations of this article, provide anyother service related or incidental to the sale and transfer of property; or

 

(iii) Conduct its operations on a direct basis through a branchoffice located within the state without using a title agent.

 

26-23-306. Limitations on powers.

 

 

(a) An insurer that transacts any class or kind of insuranceother than title insurance is not eligible for a license to transact thebusiness of title insurance in this state, nor for the renewal thereof, norshall title insurance be transacted, underwritten or issued by any insurertransacting or licensed to transact any other kind of insurance.

 

(b) An insurer shall not engage in the business of guaranteeingpayment of the principal or the interest of bonds or mortgages.

 

(c) An insurer shall not engage in the business of guaranteeingthe obligations of other persons other than issuing insured closing letterscovering its agents in the normal course of business.

 

26-23-307. Single risk limitation.

 

 

(a) The net retained liability of a title insurer for a singlerisk on property located in this state, whether assumed directly or asreinsurance, shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the sum of its totalsurplus to policyholders and reinsurance reserve, less the value assigned totitle plants, as shown in the insurer's most recent annual statement on file inthe commissioner's office.

 

(b) The commissioner may waive the limitation of this sectionfor a particular risk upon application of the insurer and for good cause shown.

 

26-23-308. Underwriting standards; record retention.

 

 

(a) No title insurance policy as to property in this stateshall be written unless it is based upon adequate evidence of the currentcondition of title certified in writing as of the date of the policy by aperson duly authorized under W.S. 33-2-101 to act as a title abstractor in thecounty where the property is situated, or based upon the opinion of an attorneyauthorized to practice law in this state as to the condition of the titlefollowing a review by the attorney of pertinent title records or abstracts.Evidence of the examination of title and determination of insurability shall bepreserved and retained in the files of the title insurer or its title agent fora period of not less than fifteen (15) years after the title insurance policyhas been issued. Instead of retaining the original evidence, the title insureror title agent, in the regular course of business, may establish a systemwhereby all or part of the evidence is recorded, copied or reproduced by anyprocess that accurately and legibly reproduces or forms a durable medium forreproducing the contents of the original. This subsection does not apply to atitle insurer:

 

(i) Assuming liability through a contract of reinsurance; or

 

(ii) Acting as coinsurer if one (1) of the other coinsuringtitle insurers has complied with this section.

 

(b) Except as allowed by regulations the commissionerpromulgates, no title insurer or title agent shall knowingly issue any titleinsurance policy or commitment to insure without showing all outstanding,enforceable, recorded liens or other interests against the property, title towhich is to be insured.

 

26-23-309. Reinsurance reserve.

 

(a) A domestic title insurer shall establish and maintain areinsurance reserve computed in accordance with this section, and all sumsattributed to that reserve are considered and constitute unearned portions ofthe original premiums. This reserve shall be reported as a liability of thetitle insurer in its financial statements.

 

(b) The reinsurance reserve shall be maintained by the titleinsurer for the protection of holders of title insurance policies. Except asprovided in this section, assets equal in value to the reinsurance reserve arenot subject to distribution among creditors or stockholders of the titleinsurer until all claims of policyholders or claims under reinsurance contractshave been paid in full, and all liability on the policies or reinsurancecontracts has been paid in full and discharged or lawfully reinsured.

 

(c) A foreign or alien title insurance company licensed totransact title insurance business in this state shall maintain at least thesame reserves on title insurance policies issued on properties located in thisstate as are required of domestic title insurance companies, unless the laws ofthe jurisdiction of domicile of the foreign or alien title insurance company requirea higher amount.

 

(d) The reinsurance reserve shall consist of:

 

(i) The amount of the reinsurance reserve on May 27, 1983; and

 

(ii) A sum equal to twenty cents ($.20) for each one thousanddollars ($1,000.00) of net retained liability under each title insurance policyon a single risk written on properties located in this state written after May27, 1983.

 

(e) Amounts placed in the reinsurance reserve in any year inaccordance with paragraph (d)(ii) of this section shall be deducted in determiningthe net profit of the title insurer for that year.

 

(f) A title insurer shall release from the reinsurance reservea sum equal to the appropriate amount as set forth in the most recent NationalAssociation of Insurance Commissioners' accounting practices and proceduresmanual. The amount of the reinsurance reserve or similar unearned premiumreserve maintained before July 1, 2001, shall be released in accordance withthe law in effect at the time such reserves became effective.

 

26-23-310. Use of reinsurance reserve on liquidation, dissolution orinsolvency.

 

 

(a) If a domestic title insurer becomes insolvent, is in theprocess of liquidation of dissolution or is in the commissioner's possession:

 

(i) The amount of the assets of the title insurance companyequal to the reinsurance reserve then remaining may be used by or with thecommissioner's written approval to pay for reinsurance of the title insurer'sliability upon all outstanding title insurance policies or reinsuranceagreements to the extent to which claims for losses by the holders thereof arenot then pending. The balance of assets, if any, equal to the reinsurancereserve may then be transferred to the title insurer's general assets;

 

(ii) The assets net of the reinsurance reserve shall beavailable to pay claims for losses sustained by holders of title insurancepolicies then pending or arising up to the time reinsurance is effected. Ifclaims for losses exceed the title insurer's other assets those claims, whenestablished, shall be paid pro rata out of the surplus assets attributable tothe reinsurance reserve, to the extent of the surplus, if any.

 

(b) If reinsurance is not obtained, assets equal to thereinsurance reserve and assets constituting minimum capital, or so much as remainsthereof after outstanding claims have been paid, constitute a trust fund to beheld and invested by the commissioner for twenty (20) years, out of whichclaims of policyholders shall be paid as they arise. The balance, if any, ofthe trust fund, at the expiration of twenty (20) years, shall revert to thegeneral assets of the title insurer.

 

26-23-311. Loss and loss expense reserve.

 

 

(a) All title insurers licensed in this state shall establishand maintain reserves against unpaid losses and loss expenses.

 

(b) Upon receiving notice from or on behalf of the insured of atitle defect in or lien or adverse claim against the title of the insured thatmay result in a loss or cause expense to be incurred in the proper dispositionof the claim, the title insurer shall determine the amount to be added to thereserve, which amount shall reflect a careful estimate of the loss or lossexpense likely to result by reason of the claim.

 

(c) Reserves required under this section may be revised fromtime to time and shall be redetermined at least once each year.

 

26-23-312. Reinsurance.

 

 

(a) A title insurer may obtain reinsurance for all or any partof its liability under one (1) or more of its title insurance policies orreinsurance agreements and may also reinsure title insurance policies issued byother title insurers on risks located in this state or elsewhere. Reinsuranceon policies issued on properties located in this state must be obtained fromtitle insurers licensed to transact title insurance business in this state.

 

(b) Upon application by a title insurer, the commissioner maypermit the insurer to obtain reinsurance from a title insurer not licensed inthis state if:

 

(i) The title insurer is unable to obtain reinsurance from atitle insurer licensed in this state; and

 

(ii) The capital and surplus of the unlicensed title insurermeet the requirements for licensed companies under this code.

 

26-23-313. Investments.

 

 

(a) Except as otherwise expressly provided in this section, thegeneral investment provisions of chapter 7 of this code apply to all domestictitle insurers.

 

(b) A domestic title insurer may invest and have invested fundsin an amount not exceeding its surplus to policyholders or three hundredthousand dollars ($300,000.00), whichever is the larger sum, in title plantsand equipment and in stocks of abstract companies.

 

(c) Investment in plants, equipment and abstract company sharesauthorized by this section shall not be credited against the insurer's requiredreinsurance reserves.

 

(d) Any investment of a domestic title insurer acquired beforeMay 27, 1983, and which, under this section, would be considered ineligible asan investment on that date shall be disposed of before May 27, 1985. Thecommissioner, upon application and proof that forced sale of any suchinvestment would be contrary to the best interests of the title insurer or itspolicyholders, may extend the period for disposal of the investment for areasonable time.

 

26-23-314. Conditions for providing escrow, closing or settlementservices, or maintaining title indemnification accounts.

 

 

(a) A title insurer or title agent may engage in the escrow,settlement, or closing business, or any combination of such businesses, andoperate as an escrow, settlement, or closing agent, provided that:

 

(i) Funds deposited in connection with any escrow, settlement,closing or title indemnification shall be deposited in a separate fiduciarytrust account or accounts in a bank or other financial institution insured byan agency of the federal government. These funds are the property of the personor persons entitled thereto under the provisions of the escrow, settlement,closing or title indemnification and shall be segregated by escrow, settlement,closing or title indemnification in the records of the title insurer or titleagent. Those funds are not subject to any debts of the title insurer or titleagent and shall be used only in accordance with the terms of the individualescrow, settlement, closing or title indemnification under which the funds wereaccepted;

 

(ii) Interest received on funds deposited with the title insureror title agent in connection with any escrow, settlement, closing or titleindemnification shall be paid to the depositing party unless the instructionsprovide otherwise;

 

(iii) The title insurer or title agent shall maintain separaterecords of all receipts and disbursements of escrow, settlement, closing ortitle indemnification funds.

 

26-23-315. Identification of title agents.

 

Atitle insurer shall provide to the commissioner on an annual basis a list ofall of its title agents within this state.

 

26-23-316. Title agents; license required; requirements as to license.

 

 

(a) No person shall act as a title agent unless licensed inaccordance with this article.

 

(b) No license shall be issued to, continued or permitted toexist for any person to act as a title agent unless the person:

 

(i) Is at least eighteen (18) years of age;

 

(ii) Is a bona fide resident of and resides within this state orany other state which has entered into a reciprocal title agent licensingagreement with the commissioner;

 

(iii) Is appointed as a title agent by a title insurer, subjectto the issuance of the title agent's license;

 

(iv) Passes an examination given by the commissioner or anytesting service selected by the commissioner covering the search andexamination of title to real property, insurance principles relating to titleinsurance and the fiduciary duties and procedures of escrows, closings and settlementsof real estate transactions.

 

(c) Any person, other than a natural person, to whom a titleinsurance agent's license is issued shall designate to the commissioner thosenatural persons who are or will be exercising the powers and performing the dutiesof the title insurance agent. The designated individuals are subject toparagraphs (b)(i) and (iii) of this section. Persons performing only clericalfunctions are not subject to the requirements of subsection (b) of thissection.

 

(d) Any person, other than a natural person, to whom a titleinsurance agent's license is issued shall demonstrate that each natural persondesignated to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the title insuranceagent meets the requirements of subsection (b) of this section.

 

26-23-317. Title agents; application for license.

 

(a) Application for a license to act as a title agent shall bemade in writing in the form and manner the commissioner prescribes. Anapplication fee, as provided by W.S. 26-4-101, shall be paid at the time ofapplication.

 

(b) The application is a continuing one, and any prospectivelicensee or licensees shall inform the commissioner promptly if any informationset forth in the application changes or is no longer accurate, or if any otherrelevant information regarding the application arises after the originalapplication.

 

26-23-318. Title agents; issuance of license; expiration; renewal.

 

(a) The commissioner shall issue a license to act as a titleagent to any person if:

 

(i) The prospective licensee files an application pursuant toW.S. 26-23-317;

 

(ii) The prospective licensee meets the requirements of W.S.26-23-316; and

 

(iii) The prospective licensee provides the commissioner withevidence of financial responsibility in the form and in a minimum amount thecommissioner requires by regulation.

 

(b) Each title agent's license expires on the last day of themonth of the licensee's birthday in the second year following the issuance orrenewal of the license, and may be renewed by the commissioner upon filing bythe licensee, prior to the expiration of his license, of a properly completedrenewal application in the form the commissioner prescribes, and upon paymentof a renewal fee as provided by W.S. 26-4-101.

 

26-23-319. Title agents; records.

 

 

(a) A title agent shall keep books of account and records andvouchers pertaining to any business transacted under this article. All recordsshall be maintained in a manner that the commissioner may readily ascertainfrom time to time whether the title agent has complied with all applicableprovisions of this article.

 

(b) The commissioner, at any time during normal business hours,may examine, audit and inspect books and records maintained by title agentsunder this article.

 

26-23-320. Title agents; report of claims.

 

 

(a) A title agent shall immediately report every loss claim tothe title insurer that issued the policy against which the claim is presented.

 

(b) No title agent shall indemnify or pay the claim of anyinsured.

 

26-23-321. Title agents; refusal, suspension or revocation of license;fine instead of suspension.

 

 

(a) In addition to any other grounds stated in this article,the commissioner may refuse to license any person as a title agent, or maysuspend a title agent's license, after providing due notice and an opportunityto be heard, upon a finding that the person:

 

(i) Fails to meet the qualifications for licensure under thiscode;

 

(ii) Has violated any provision of this code or any rule orregulation of the commissioner;

 

(iii) Has made a material misstatement in an application for atitle insurance agent's license or has obtained a title insurance agent'slicense by fraud or willful misrepresentation;

 

(iv) Has misappropriated or converted to his own use fundsbelonging to applicants, insureds, title insurers, escrow participants orothers;

 

(v) Has intentionally misrepresented the terms of a titleinsurance policy to any applicant or policyholder or has misrepresentedmaterial facts to, concealed material facts from or made false statements toany party to an escrow, settlement or closing transaction;

 

(vi) Has in the conduct of his affairs under his title insuranceagent's license, used fraudulent, coercive or dishonest practices or has shownhimself to be incompetent, untrustworthy, financially irresponsible or a sourceof injury and loss to the public; or

 

(vii) Has aided, abetted or assisted another person in violatingthis article or any rule or regulation promulgated under this article.

 

(b) The commissioner may revoke the title agent's license ofany person convicted by final judgment of a felony.

 

(c) In addition to or without imposing the penalties specifiedin subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the commissioner may impose a finein an amount not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) foreach violation of this section or of any rule or regulation promulgated underthis section.

 

(d) Any of the penalties provided under this section may beimposed on a title agent other than a natural person for action of individualsdesignated by that insurance agent.

 

26-23-322. Rebates and inducements prohibited.

 

 

(a) No title insurer or title agent shall:

 

(i) Pay in any manner to any person any commission, any part ofits premiums, fees or other charges or any other consideration as inducement orcompensation for the referral of title business or for performance of anyescrow or other service by the title insurer or title agent;

 

(ii) Issue any title insurance policy or perform any service inconnection with any transaction in which it has paid or intends to pay anycommission, rebate or inducement which it knows to be in violation of thissection.

 

(b) No person shall knowingly receive or accept in any manner,any commission, rebate or inducement referred to in subsection (a) of thissection.

 

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibitingreasonable payments, other than for the referral of title insurance business,for services actually rendered to either a title insurer or a title agent inconnection with title insurance business.

 

26-23-323. Division of premiums and charges.

 

 

(a) Nothing in this article shall be construed as prohibitingthe division of premiums and charges between or among a title insurer and itstitle agent, two (2) or more title insurers, one (1) or more title insurers andone (1) or more title agents or two (2) or more title agents, provided thedivision of premiums and charges does not constitute:

 

(i) An unlawful rebate or inducement under this article; or

 

(ii) Payment of a forwarding fee or finder's fee.

 

26-23-324. Favored title agent or insurer.

 

 

(a) No producer or other person shall require in any manner asa condition, agreement or understanding to selling or furnishing any otherperson any loan or extension thereof, credit, sale, property, contract, leaseor service, that such other person shall place any contract of title insuranceof any kind through any particular title agent or title insurer. No title agentor title insurer shall knowingly participate in any such prohibited plan ortransaction. No person shall fix a price charged for such thing or service, ordiscount from or rebate upon price, on the condition, agreement orunderstanding that any title insurance is to be obtained through a particulartitle agent or title insurer.

 

(b) Any producer or other person who violates this section, orany title insurer or title agent who accepts an order for title insuranceknowing that it is in violation of this section, in addition to any otheraction which may be taken by the regulatory authority having jurisdiction, issubject to a fine by the commissioner in an amount equal to five (5) times thepremium for the title insurance.

 

(c) The commissioner may invoke the aid of the courts inenforcing any fines imposed under this section.

 

26-23-325. Premium rate standards.

 

 

(a) Premium rates shall not be inadequate, excessive orunfairly discriminatory.

 

(b) Rates are excessive if in the aggregate they are likely toproduce a long run profit that is unreasonably high in relation to theriskiness of the class of business, or if expenses are unreasonably high inrelation to the services rendered.

 

(c) Rates are inadequate if they are clearly insufficient,together with investment income attributable to them, to sustain projectedlosses and expenses, or if the continued use of such rates will have the effectof substantially lessening competition or the effect of tending to create amonopoly.

 

(d) Premium rates are unfairly discriminatory if the premiumcharged for any classification is not reasonably related to the servicesperformed or the risks assumed by the insurer, provided within rateclassifications, premiums, to a reasonable degree, may be less in the case of smallerinsurances and the excess may be charged against larger insurances withoutrendering the rate unfairly discriminatory.

 

(e) In making or reviewing rates, consideration shall be givento past and prospective loss experience, to exposure to loss, to underwritingpractice and judgment, to past and prospective expenses including amounts paidto or retained by title agents, to investment income, to a reasonable marginfor profit and contingencies and to any other relevant factors both within andoutside of this state.

 

(f) The commissioner may promulgate rules or regulationssetting forth guidelines for evaluation of rates. These regulations may includeconsideration of:

 

(i) Costs of underwriting risks assumed by the insurer;

 

(ii) Amounts paid to or retained by title agents;

 

(iii) Operating expenses of the insurer other than underwritingand claims expenses;

 

(iv) Payment of claims and claim related expenses;

 

(v) Investment income;

 

(vi) Reasonable profit;

 

(vii) Premium taxes; and

 

(viii) Any other factors the commissioner deems relevant.

 

26-23-326. Premium rate schedules.

 

 

(a) A title insurer shall file with the commissioner thepremium rate schedules it proposes to use in this state. If the commissionerfinds in his review of a filing that it does not violate W.S. 26-23-325, heshall approve the schedule within thirty (30) days of filing. Prior to suchapproval, the commissioner may conduct public hearings with respect to thefiling. Filings that the commissioner fails to approve or disapprove withinthirty (30) days of filing are approved. Upon notice to the title insurer, theperiod for review of rate filing may be extended for an additional thirty (30)days. If within the waiting period or extension thereof the commissioner findsthat the filing does violate W.S. 26-23-325, he shall give written notice ofdisapproval of the filing to the insurer or rating organization which made thefiling, specifying therein in what specific respects he finds the filingviolates W.S. 26-23-325 and stating that the filing shall not become effective.

 

(b) If at any time after the approval of filing, thecommissioner believes that the filing does not meet the requirements of thissection or is otherwise contrary to law, or if any party having an interest inthe filing makes a written complaint to the commissioner setting forth specificand reasonable grounds for the complaint, or if any insurer, upon notice ofdisapproval by the commissioner of a filing pursuant to this section, requests,the commissioner shall hold a hearing within thirty (30) days and shall givewritten notice of the hearing to all parties in interest. The commissioner mayconfirm, modify, change or rescind any previous action, if warranted by thefacts shown at the hearing.

 

(c) No title insurer or title agent shall use or collect anypremium after May 27, 1983, except in accordance with the premium rate schedulefiled with and approved by the commissioner as required by this section. Thecommissioner may provide by regulation for interim use of premium rateschedules in effect prior to May 27, 1983.

 

26-23-327. Publication of schedules of premiums and charges.

 

 

(a) Each title insurer and title agent shall print and makeavailable to the public schedules of its currently effective premiums andcharges.

 

(b) The schedules shall:

 

(i) Be dated to show the date the premiums and charges becameeffective;

 

(ii) Be kept available to the public during normal businesshours in each office of the title insurer or title agent in this state; and

 

(iii) Set forth the total premium and charge for each type oftitle insurance policy or service issued or provided by the title insurer ortitle agent either by stating the premium or charge for each type of titleinsurance policy in given amounts of coverage or for each service, or bystating the premium or charge rate per unit amount of coverage, or by acombination of the two.

 

(c) Each title insurer and title agent shall keep a completefile of its schedules of premium and charges and of all changes and amendmentsto those schedules until at least five (5) years after they cease to be ineffect.

 

26-23-328. Form filing.

 

 

(a) A title insurer shall file with the commissioner any formsit proposes to use in this state, including:

 

(i) Title insurance policies, including standard formendorsements;

 

(ii) "Preliminary reports", "commitments","binders" or any other reports issued prior to the issuance of atitle insurance policy.

 

(b) If the commissioner finds in his review of a filing that itdoes not violate W.S. 26-23-329, he shall approve the form within thirty (30)days of filing. Prior to such approval, the commissioner may conduct publichearings with respect to the filing. Filings that the commissioner has failedto approve or disapprove within thirty (30) days of filing are deemed approved.Upon notice to the title insurer, the period for review of a form filing may beextended for an additional thirty (30) days. If, within the waiting period orextension thereof, the commissioner finds that the filing does violate W.S.26-23-329, he shall give written notice of disapproval of the filing to theinsurer or rating organization which made the filing, specifying therein inwhat specific respects he finds the filing violates W.S. 26-23-329 and statingthat the filing shall not become effective.

 

(c) A title insurer need not file reinsurance contracts andagreements.

 

(d) No title insurer may issue, directly or through a titleagent, any policy after May 27, 1983, unless the policy form has been approvedpursuant to this section. The commissioner may provide by regulation forinterim use of forms in effect prior to May 27, 1983.

 

26-23-329. Form standards.

 

 

(a) The commissioner shall approve any form filed under W.S.26-23-328 only if the form:

 

(i) Is written in simple language logically and clearlyarranged and is understandable to a person of normal intelligence withoutspecial insurance or legal knowledge or training;

 

(ii) Does not contain or incorporate by reference anyinconsistent, ambiguous or misleading clauses, exceptions or conditionsdeceptively affecting the risk purported to be assumed in the affirmativecoverage of the contract;

 

(iii) Does not contain any misleading title, heading or otherindication of its coverage;

 

(iv) Is not printed or otherwise reproduced in such a manner asto render any provision of the form substantially illegible; and

 

(v) Is otherwise in compliance with this code.

 

26-23-330. Endorsements.

 

Anyapproved policy form or endorsement providing any coverage for which noidentifiable premium is assessed shall be incorporated in every policy of titleinsurance of the type to which the form or endorsement pertains issued by theinsurer offering the approved form or endorsements. The insurer shall discloseany such additional coverage to the insured. This section does not operate toeliminate any underwriting standard or conditions relating to the approvedpolicy forms or endorsements.

 

26-23-331. Notice of issuance of mortgagee policy.

 

 

(a) A title insurer or title agent that issues a mortgagee'spolicy of title insurance on a loan made simultaneous to the purchase of all orpart of the residential property securing the loan, if no owner's policy hasbeen ordered, shall inform the borrower in writing that the mortgagee's policyis to be issued, that the mortgagee's policy does not protect the borrower andthat the borrower may obtain an owner's title insurance policy for hisprotection. This notice shall be provided before disbursement of the loanproceeds and before issuance of the mortgagee's policy. The notice shall be ona form the commissioner prescribes.

 

(b) If the borrower elects not to purchase an owner's titleinsurance policy, the title insurer or title agent shall obtain from him astatement in writing that the notice has been received and that the borrowerwaives the right to purchase an owner's title insurance policy. If the buyerrefuses to provide the statement and waiver, the title insurer or title agentshall so note in the file. The statement and waiver shall be on a form thecommissioner prescribes, and shall be retained by the title insurer or titleagent for at least five (5) years after receipt.

 

26-23-332. Filing by rating bureaus permitted.

 

 

(a) A title insurer may satisfy its obligation to make premiumrate and form filings as required by this article by becoming a member of, or asubscriber to, a rating organization organized and licensed under this code,which organization makes such filings, and by authorizing the commissioner inwriting to accept those filings on its behalf.

 

(b) Nothing in this article shall be construed as:

 

(i) Requiring any title insurer to become a member of, or asubscriber to, any rating organization; or

 

(ii) Prohibiting the filing of deviations from ratingorganization filings by any member or subscriber.

 

26-23-333. Regulations.

 

 

(a) In addition to any other powers granted under this article,the commissioner may adopt rules or regulations to protect the interests of thepublic including but not limited to regulations governing:

 

(i) Sales practices;

 

(ii) Policy coverage standards;

 

(iii) Rebates and inducements;

 

(iv) Controlled business;

 

(v) Unfair trade practices and fraud;

 

(vi) Statistical plans for data collection;

 

(vii) Consumer education;

 

(viii) Any other consumer matters;

 

(ix) The business of title insurance; or

 

(x) Any regulations otherwise implementing or interpreting thisarticle.

 

26-23-334. Enforcement.

 

 

(a) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this article,any person who violates this article in addition to or instead of suspension orrevocation of the violator's license, is subject to a civil penalty of fivehundred dollars ($500.00) per violation. For purposes of this article eachindividual transaction which is not in conformance with this article isconsidered a violation.

 

(b) This article is enforceable only by the commissioner andshall not create any private cause of action or other private legal recourse.

 

(c) The commissioner may invoke the aid of the courts inenforcing this article.

 

26-23-335. Filing of schedule of risk rates; attaching schedule ofrates and charges to policy.

 

Eachtitle insurer shall file with the commissioner a complete schedule of rates foror in connection with title insurance as to property located in this state. Theschedule shall set forth the entire premium to be charged to the public foreach type of policy included within the schedule and shall include withoutseparate statement the portion of the charge for risk assumption and theportion which is based on work performed in the search and examination of thetitle. There shall be no separate filing by an agent of the title insurer.

 

26-23-336. Mortgagee policies.

 

Ifa title insurance policy is issued insuring the title to real estate only as toa mortgagee, the insurer shall conspicuously show on the face of the policy andon any evidence thereof delivered to the mortgagor that coverage is limited tothe interest of the mortgagee only.

 


State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > Wyoming > Title26 > Chapter23

CHAPTER 23 - CASUALTY INSURANCE, SURETY INSURANCE AND TITLEINSURANCE

 

ARTICLE 1 - PROPERTY INSURANCE CONTRACTS

 

26-23-101. Overinsurance prohibited.

 

 

(a) No person shall buy insurance on property within this statefor an amount which, together with any existing insurance, exceeds the fairvalue of the property or of the interest of the insured therein. This provisiondoes not apply as to insurance of replacement value.

 

(b) Anyone who willfully violates this section is subject tothe penalties provided in W.S. 26-1-107.

 

26-23-102. Adjuster's reports of overinsurance and causes of fire; reportsdeemed privileged communications.

 

(a) Any adjuster who investigates any property loss claim inthis state shall report to the commissioner in writing any overinsurance of theproperty he discovers.

 

(b) Any adjuster who investigates any property fire loss inthis state shall report in writing to the commissioner the origin and cause ofthe fire, so far as he can reasonably ascertain them, together with anycircumstances which in his opinion may indicate fraud or attempted fraud.

 

(c) Any report submitted to the commissioner under thissection, together with any accompanying information, document, record orstatement, is an absolutely privileged communication. The report may bedisclosed as authorized by and in accordance with the provisions of W.S.26-2-113(d).

 

26-23-103. Return of excess premium in certain cases of totaldestruction.

 

Ifthe insured property is totally destroyed and the total amount of loss is lessthan the total amount insured thereon as to the hazard causing the loss, the insurershall return to the insured at the time of payment of the loss the amount ofpremiums paid under the policy then in force for the excess of insurance overthe fair value of the property at the time of the loss. This section does notapply to insurance of replacement value.

 

26-23-104. Terms of policies; extension.

 

 

(a) No insurer shall issue a policy insuring property in thisstate for a term longer than five (5) years.

 

(b) The term of any such policy may be extended by certificateas provided in W.S. 26-15-121.

 

26-23-105. Exemptions.

 

W.S.26-23-101(a), 26-23-102 and 26-23-103 do not apply to insurance on stocks ofmerchandise or property of fluctuating values, if the reduced rate contributionclause is made a part of the policy. This chapter does not apply to wet marineand transportation insurance.

 

26-23-106. Use of insurance support organizations limited.

 

Thissection shall apply if an insurer uses for underwriting purposes for insurancepolicies information from a report provided by, or database maintained by, aninsurance support organization, or consumer reporting agency, related to thepremises that is the subject of the application or to the person applying forinsurance. Failure of the insurer, within forty-five (45) calendar days ofissuing a binder, to act upon the information referenced in this sectionprecludes the insurer from declining insurance coverage or terminating a binderof insurance coverage based on the information. Notwithstanding any other law,an insurer may decline or terminate insurance coverage based on the conditionof the premises as determined through a physical inspection of the premises.This section applies only to homeowner's insurance and does not apply to apolicy renewal.

 

26-23-107. Cancellation and nonrenewal of homeowner's insurancepolicies for natural causes restricted.

 

(a) No homeowner's insurance policy shall be denied renewal asa result of a single claim within a three (3) year period arising from naturalcauses.

 

(b) No homeowner's insurance policy shall be cancelled duringits term as a result of any claim arising from natural causes.

 

(c) As used in this section "natural cause" means anact occasioned exclusively by the violence of nature where all human agency isexcluded from creating or contributing to the cause of the damage or injury.

 

(d) Any insurer which violates the provisions of this sectionshall be subject to the procedures and penalties provided under this code. Following the procedures in this code, the commissioner may order thereinstatement, with no lapse in coverage, of any policy cancelled or nonrenewedin violation of this section.

 

26-23-108. Restrictions on underwriting for homeowner policies.

 

(a) No insurer shall cancel, refuse to renew or offer to renewat a higher premium a homeowner's insurance policy based in any manner upon theclaims history of a named insured unless the claims history excludes customerinquiries. Customer inquiries are defined as telephone calls or other requestsfor information made by the named insured or a person who would be a namedinsured under the policy, that reference the terms, conditions or coverageafforded under an insurance contract and do not result in claims being filed orpaid.

 

(b) Any insurer which violates the provisions of this sectionshall be subject to the procedures and penalties provided under this code. Following the procedures in this code, the commissioner may order thereinstatement, with no lapse in coverage, of any policy cancelled or nonrenewedin violation of this section. If the commissioner finds a policy was renewedat a higher premium in violation of this section he may order the return of anyunauthorized increase in premium together with interest at a rate of tenpercent (10%) per year.

 

ARTICLE 2 - CASUALTY AND SURETY INSURANCE CONTRACTS

 

26-23-201. Casualty and surety contracts subject to provisions of code.

 

 

(a) The following insurance contracts covering subjects ofinsurance resident, located or to be performed in this state are subject to theapplicable provisions of chapter 15 and to other applicable provisions of thiscode:

 

(i) Casualty insurance contracts; and

 

(ii) Surety insurance contracts.

 

ARTICLE 3 - TITLE INSURANCE

 

26-23-301. Short title.

 

Thisarticle is known and may be cited as the "Wyoming Title InsuranceAct".

 

26-23-302. Applicability of article; construction with other laws.

 

 

(a) This article applies to all title insurers, title insurancerating organizations, title agents, applicants for title insurance, titleinsurance policyholders, and all persons engaged in title insurancetransactions in this state.

 

(b) Except as otherwise expressly provided in this article, andexcept where the context otherwise requires, all provisions of this codeapplying to insurance and insurance companies generally apply to titleinsurance and title insurance companies.

 

(c) Nothing in this article shall be construed to authorize thepractice of law by any person who is not admitted to practice law in this statenor shall it be construed to authorize the commissioner to regulate thepractice of law.

 

26-23-303. Definitions.

 

 

(a) As used in this article:

 

(i) "Alien title insurer" means any title insurerincorporated or organized under the laws of any foreign nation or any province orterritory thereof;

 

(ii) "Applicant" means a person, whether or not aprospective insured, who applies to a title insurer or title agent for a titleinsurance policy and who, at the time of the application, is not a title agent;

 

(iii) "Approved attorney" means an attorney at law whois not an agent or employee of a title insurer and whose certification as tostatus of title a title insurer is willing to accept as the basis for issuanceof its title insurance policy;

 

(iv) "Associate" means any:

 

(A) Business organized for profit in which a producer of titlebusiness is a director, officer, partner, employee or owner of five percent(5%) or more of the equity capital thereof;

 

(B) Employee of a producer of title business;

 

(C) Franchisor or franchisee of a producer of title business;

 

(D) Spouse, parent or child of a producer of title business whois a natural person;

 

(E) Person, other than a natural person, that controls, iscontrolled by or is under common control with a producer of title business; or

 

(F) Person with whom a producer of title business or anyassociate of such producer has any agreement, arrangement or understanding, orpursues any course of conduct, the purpose or substantial effect of which is toevade the provisions of this article.

 

(v) "Charge" means any fee billed by a title agent ortitle insurer or both for the performance of services, other than fees thatfall within the definition of premium in paragraph (a)(xiv) of this section andincludes but is not limited to fees for document preparation, fees for thehandling of escrows, settlements or closings and fees for services commencedbut not completed. "Charge" does not include fees collected by atitle insurer or title agent in an escrow, settlement or closing when the feesare limited to the amount billed for services rendered by an entity independentof the title insurer or title agent;

 

(vi) "Controlled business" means any portion of atitle insurer's or title agent's business of title insurance in this state,referred to it by any producer of title business or by any associate of suchproducer, if the producer of title business, the associate, or both, have afinancial interest in the title insurer or title agent to which business isreferred;

 

(vii) "Domestic title insurer" means a title insurerorganized under the laws of this state;

 

(viii) "Escrow, settlement or closing fee" means theconsideration for supervising the actual execution, delivery or recording oftransfer and lien documents and for disbursing funds;

 

(ix) "Financial interest" means any interest thatentitles the holder in any manner to five percent (5%) or more of the netprofits or net worth of the entity in which the interest is held;

 

(x) "Foreign title insurer" means any title insurerorganized under the laws of any other state of the United States, the Districtof Columbia or any other jurisdiction of the United States;

 

(xi) "Gross operating revenue" means all premiumsreceived by a title insurer or title agent;

 

(xii) "Net retained liability" means the totalliability retained by a title insurer for a single risk, after taking intoaccount the deduction for ceded liability, if any;

 

(xiii) "Person" means any natural person, partnership,association, cooperative, corporation, trust or other legal entity;

 

(xiv) "Premium" means fees for:

 

(A) Issuing a title insurance policy, including any servicecharge administration fee for the issuance of a title insurance policy;

 

(B) Abstracting, searching and examining title when conductedor performed in contemplation of or in conjunction with the issuance of a titleinsurance policy;

 

(C) Preparing or issuing preliminary reports, propertyprofiles, commitments, binders or like products;

 

(D) Assuming liability under a contract of reinsurance.

 

(xv) "Producer of title business" or"producer" means any person, including any officer, director or ownerof five percent (5%) or more of the equity or capital of any person engaged inthis state in the trade, business, occupation or profession of:

 

(A) Buying or selling interests in real property;

 

(B) Making loans secured by interests in real property; or

 

(C) Acting as broker, agent, representative or attorney of aperson who buys or sells any interest in real property or who lends or borrowsmoney with such interest as security.

 

(xvi) "Refer" means to direct or cause to be directedor to exercise any power or influence over the direction of title insurancebusiness, whether or not the consent or approval of any other person is soughtor obtained with respect to the referral;

 

(xvii) "Report", subject to the stated exceptions setforth therein, issued prior to the issuance of a policy, means a"preliminary report", "commitment", or "binder"and constitutes a statement of the terms and conditions upon which the insureris willing to issue its policy but is not a title policy. Neither a titlepolicy nor a report issued prior to the issuance of a title insurance policy isan abstract of title;

 

(xviii) "Single risk" means the insured amount of anytitle insurance policy, except that if two (2) or more title insurance policiesare issued simultaneously covering different estates in the same real property,"single risk" means the sum of the insured amounts of all such titleinsurance policies. Any title insurance policy insuring a mortgage interest aclaim payment under which reduces the insured amount of a fee or leaseholdtitle insurance policy shall be excluded in computing the amount of a singlerisk to the extent that the insured amount of the mortgagee title insurancepolicy does not exceed the insured amount of the fee or leasehold titleinsurance policy;

 

(xix) "Title agent" or "agent" means anyperson authorized in writing by a title insurer to do any of the following butdoes not include approved attorneys, officers or employees of a title insurer:

 

(A) Solicit title insurance business;

 

(B) Collect premiums;

 

(C) Determine insurability in accordance with underwritingrules and standards prescribed by the title insurer; or

 

(D) Issue policies of the title insurer.

 

(xx) "Title insurance business" or "business oftitle insurance" means:

 

(A) Issuing as insurer or offering to issue as insurer a titleinsurance policy;

 

(B) Transacting or proposing to transact by a title insurer ortitle agent any of the following activities when conducted or performed incontemplation of the issuance of a title insurance policy:

 

(I) Soliciting or negotiating the issuance of a title insurancepolicy;

 

(II) Guaranteeing, warranting or otherwise insuring thecorrectness of title searches;

 

(III) Handling of escrows, settlements or closings;

 

(IV) Execution of title insurance policies;

 

(V) Effecting contracts of reinsurance;

 

(VI) Abstracting, searching or examining titles; or

 

(VII) Doing or proposing to do any business in substanceequivalent to any of the businesses specified in subdivisions (I) through (VI)of this subparagraph in a manner designed to evade the provisions of thisarticle.

 

(xxi) "Title insurance policy" or "policy"means a contract wherein, subject to the stated terms and conditions, a titleinsurer insures, guarantees or indemnifies owners of real or personal propertyor the holders of liens or encumbrances thereon or others interested therein againstloss or damage suffered by reason of:

 

(A) Defects in, adverse claims, liens or encumbrances in thetitle to the stated property;

 

(B) Unmarketability of the title to the stated property;

 

(C) Guaranteeing, warranting or otherwise insuring by a titleinsurance company the correctness of searches relating to the title toproperty;

 

(D) Defects in the authorization, execution or delivery of anencumbrance upon such property;

 

(E) The insuring by a title insurance company the validity andenforceability of evidences of indebtedness secured by an encumbrance upon thetitle or interest in such property;

 

(F) The invalidity, unenforceability or loss of priority of aninsured mortgage resulting from a change in rate of interest or principal balance,or both, which change is in accordance with the provisions of the insuredmortgage.

 

(xxii) "Title insurer" or "insurer" means acompany organized under laws of this state for the purpose of transacting asinsurer the business of title insurance and any foreign or alien title insurerengaged in this state in the business of title insurance as insurer;

 

(xxiii) "Title plant" means a set of records in which anentry has been made of documents or matters imparting constructive notice underthe law of matters affecting title to real property or any interest therein orencumbrance thereon, which have been filed or recorded in the jurisdiction forwhich the title plant is maintained.

 

26-23-304. Corporate form required.

 

Noperson other than a domestic, foreign or alien title insurer organized on thestock plan and licensed under this code shall transact title insurance businessas an insurer in this state.

 

26-23-305. Title insurers; authorized activities.

 

 

(a) Each title insurer may:

 

(i) Engage in the title insurance business in this state iflicensed to do so by the commissioner;

 

(ii) Subject to the limitations of this article, provide anyother service related or incidental to the sale and transfer of property; or

 

(iii) Conduct its operations on a direct basis through a branchoffice located within the state without using a title agent.

 

26-23-306. Limitations on powers.

 

 

(a) An insurer that transacts any class or kind of insuranceother than title insurance is not eligible for a license to transact thebusiness of title insurance in this state, nor for the renewal thereof, norshall title insurance be transacted, underwritten or issued by any insurertransacting or licensed to transact any other kind of insurance.

 

(b) An insurer shall not engage in the business of guaranteeingpayment of the principal or the interest of bonds or mortgages.

 

(c) An insurer shall not engage in the business of guaranteeingthe obligations of other persons other than issuing insured closing letterscovering its agents in the normal course of business.

 

26-23-307. Single risk limitation.

 

 

(a) The net retained liability of a title insurer for a singlerisk on property located in this state, whether assumed directly or asreinsurance, shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the sum of its totalsurplus to policyholders and reinsurance reserve, less the value assigned totitle plants, as shown in the insurer's most recent annual statement on file inthe commissioner's office.

 

(b) The commissioner may waive the limitation of this sectionfor a particular risk upon application of the insurer and for good cause shown.

 

26-23-308. Underwriting standards; record retention.

 

 

(a) No title insurance policy as to property in this stateshall be written unless it is based upon adequate evidence of the currentcondition of title certified in writing as of the date of the policy by aperson duly authorized under W.S. 33-2-101 to act as a title abstractor in thecounty where the property is situated, or based upon the opinion of an attorneyauthorized to practice law in this state as to the condition of the titlefollowing a review by the attorney of pertinent title records or abstracts.Evidence of the examination of title and determination of insurability shall bepreserved and retained in the files of the title insurer or its title agent fora period of not less than fifteen (15) years after the title insurance policyhas been issued. Instead of retaining the original evidence, the title insureror title agent, in the regular course of business, may establish a systemwhereby all or part of the evidence is recorded, copied or reproduced by anyprocess that accurately and legibly reproduces or forms a durable medium forreproducing the contents of the original. This subsection does not apply to atitle insurer:

 

(i) Assuming liability through a contract of reinsurance; or

 

(ii) Acting as coinsurer if one (1) of the other coinsuringtitle insurers has complied with this section.

 

(b) Except as allowed by regulations the commissionerpromulgates, no title insurer or title agent shall knowingly issue any titleinsurance policy or commitment to insure without showing all outstanding,enforceable, recorded liens or other interests against the property, title towhich is to be insured.

 

26-23-309. Reinsurance reserve.

 

(a) A domestic title insurer shall establish and maintain areinsurance reserve computed in accordance with this section, and all sumsattributed to that reserve are considered and constitute unearned portions ofthe original premiums. This reserve shall be reported as a liability of thetitle insurer in its financial statements.

 

(b) The reinsurance reserve shall be maintained by the titleinsurer for the protection of holders of title insurance policies. Except asprovided in this section, assets equal in value to the reinsurance reserve arenot subject to distribution among creditors or stockholders of the titleinsurer until all claims of policyholders or claims under reinsurance contractshave been paid in full, and all liability on the policies or reinsurancecontracts has been paid in full and discharged or lawfully reinsured.

 

(c) A foreign or alien title insurance company licensed totransact title insurance business in this state shall maintain at least thesame reserves on title insurance policies issued on properties located in thisstate as are required of domestic title insurance companies, unless the laws ofthe jurisdiction of domicile of the foreign or alien title insurance company requirea higher amount.

 

(d) The reinsurance reserve shall consist of:

 

(i) The amount of the reinsurance reserve on May 27, 1983; and

 

(ii) A sum equal to twenty cents ($.20) for each one thousanddollars ($1,000.00) of net retained liability under each title insurance policyon a single risk written on properties located in this state written after May27, 1983.

 

(e) Amounts placed in the reinsurance reserve in any year inaccordance with paragraph (d)(ii) of this section shall be deducted in determiningthe net profit of the title insurer for that year.

 

(f) A title insurer shall release from the reinsurance reservea sum equal to the appropriate amount as set forth in the most recent NationalAssociation of Insurance Commissioners' accounting practices and proceduresmanual. The amount of the reinsurance reserve or similar unearned premiumreserve maintained before July 1, 2001, shall be released in accordance withthe law in effect at the time such reserves became effective.

 

26-23-310. Use of reinsurance reserve on liquidation, dissolution orinsolvency.

 

 

(a) If a domestic title insurer becomes insolvent, is in theprocess of liquidation of dissolution or is in the commissioner's possession:

 

(i) The amount of the assets of the title insurance companyequal to the reinsurance reserve then remaining may be used by or with thecommissioner's written approval to pay for reinsurance of the title insurer'sliability upon all outstanding title insurance policies or reinsuranceagreements to the extent to which claims for losses by the holders thereof arenot then pending. The balance of assets, if any, equal to the reinsurancereserve may then be transferred to the title insurer's general assets;

 

(ii) The assets net of the reinsurance reserve shall beavailable to pay claims for losses sustained by holders of title insurancepolicies then pending or arising up to the time reinsurance is effected. Ifclaims for losses exceed the title insurer's other assets those claims, whenestablished, shall be paid pro rata out of the surplus assets attributable tothe reinsurance reserve, to the extent of the surplus, if any.

 

(b) If reinsurance is not obtained, assets equal to thereinsurance reserve and assets constituting minimum capital, or so much as remainsthereof after outstanding claims have been paid, constitute a trust fund to beheld and invested by the commissioner for twenty (20) years, out of whichclaims of policyholders shall be paid as they arise. The balance, if any, ofthe trust fund, at the expiration of twenty (20) years, shall revert to thegeneral assets of the title insurer.

 

26-23-311. Loss and loss expense reserve.

 

 

(a) All title insurers licensed in this state shall establishand maintain reserves against unpaid losses and loss expenses.

 

(b) Upon receiving notice from or on behalf of the insured of atitle defect in or lien or adverse claim against the title of the insured thatmay result in a loss or cause expense to be incurred in the proper dispositionof the claim, the title insurer shall determine the amount to be added to thereserve, which amount shall reflect a careful estimate of the loss or lossexpense likely to result by reason of the claim.

 

(c) Reserves required under this section may be revised fromtime to time and shall be redetermined at least once each year.

 

26-23-312. Reinsurance.

 

 

(a) A title insurer may obtain reinsurance for all or any partof its liability under one (1) or more of its title insurance policies orreinsurance agreements and may also reinsure title insurance policies issued byother title insurers on risks located in this state or elsewhere. Reinsuranceon policies issued on properties located in this state must be obtained fromtitle insurers licensed to transact title insurance business in this state.

 

(b) Upon application by a title insurer, the commissioner maypermit the insurer to obtain reinsurance from a title insurer not licensed inthis state if:

 

(i) The title insurer is unable to obtain reinsurance from atitle insurer licensed in this state; and

 

(ii) The capital and surplus of the unlicensed title insurermeet the requirements for licensed companies under this code.

 

26-23-313. Investments.

 

 

(a) Except as otherwise expressly provided in this section, thegeneral investment provisions of chapter 7 of this code apply to all domestictitle insurers.

 

(b) A domestic title insurer may invest and have invested fundsin an amount not exceeding its surplus to policyholders or three hundredthousand dollars ($300,000.00), whichever is the larger sum, in title plantsand equipment and in stocks of abstract companies.

 

(c) Investment in plants, equipment and abstract company sharesauthorized by this section shall not be credited against the insurer's requiredreinsurance reserves.

 

(d) Any investment of a domestic title insurer acquired beforeMay 27, 1983, and which, under this section, would be considered ineligible asan investment on that date shall be disposed of before May 27, 1985. Thecommissioner, upon application and proof that forced sale of any suchinvestment would be contrary to the best interests of the title insurer or itspolicyholders, may extend the period for disposal of the investment for areasonable time.

 

26-23-314. Conditions for providing escrow, closing or settlementservices, or maintaining title indemnification accounts.

 

 

(a) A title insurer or title agent may engage in the escrow,settlement, or closing business, or any combination of such businesses, andoperate as an escrow, settlement, or closing agent, provided that:

 

(i) Funds deposited in connection with any escrow, settlement,closing or title indemnification shall be deposited in a separate fiduciarytrust account or accounts in a bank or other financial institution insured byan agency of the federal government. These funds are the property of the personor persons entitled thereto under the provisions of the escrow, settlement,closing or title indemnification and shall be segregated by escrow, settlement,closing or title indemnification in the records of the title insurer or titleagent. Those funds are not subject to any debts of the title insurer or titleagent and shall be used only in accordance with the terms of the individualescrow, settlement, closing or title indemnification under which the funds wereaccepted;

 

(ii) Interest received on funds deposited with the title insureror title agent in connection with any escrow, settlement, closing or titleindemnification shall be paid to the depositing party unless the instructionsprovide otherwise;

 

(iii) The title insurer or title agent shall maintain separaterecords of all receipts and disbursements of escrow, settlement, closing ortitle indemnification funds.

 

26-23-315. Identification of title agents.

 

Atitle insurer shall provide to the commissioner on an annual basis a list ofall of its title agents within this state.

 

26-23-316. Title agents; license required; requirements as to license.

 

 

(a) No person shall act as a title agent unless licensed inaccordance with this article.

 

(b) No license shall be issued to, continued or permitted toexist for any person to act as a title agent unless the person:

 

(i) Is at least eighteen (18) years of age;

 

(ii) Is a bona fide resident of and resides within this state orany other state which has entered into a reciprocal title agent licensingagreement with the commissioner;

 

(iii) Is appointed as a title agent by a title insurer, subjectto the issuance of the title agent's license;

 

(iv) Passes an examination given by the commissioner or anytesting service selected by the commissioner covering the search andexamination of title to real property, insurance principles relating to titleinsurance and the fiduciary duties and procedures of escrows, closings and settlementsof real estate transactions.

 

(c) Any person, other than a natural person, to whom a titleinsurance agent's license is issued shall designate to the commissioner thosenatural persons who are or will be exercising the powers and performing the dutiesof the title insurance agent. The designated individuals are subject toparagraphs (b)(i) and (iii) of this section. Persons performing only clericalfunctions are not subject to the requirements of subsection (b) of thissection.

 

(d) Any person, other than a natural person, to whom a titleinsurance agent's license is issued shall demonstrate that each natural persondesignated to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the title insuranceagent meets the requirements of subsection (b) of this section.

 

26-23-317. Title agents; application for license.

 

(a) Application for a license to act as a title agent shall bemade in writing in the form and manner the commissioner prescribes. Anapplication fee, as provided by W.S. 26-4-101, shall be paid at the time ofapplication.

 

(b) The application is a continuing one, and any prospectivelicensee or licensees shall inform the commissioner promptly if any informationset forth in the application changes or is no longer accurate, or if any otherrelevant information regarding the application arises after the originalapplication.

 

26-23-318. Title agents; issuance of license; expiration; renewal.

 

(a) The commissioner shall issue a license to act as a titleagent to any person if:

 

(i) The prospective licensee files an application pursuant toW.S. 26-23-317;

 

(ii) The prospective licensee meets the requirements of W.S.26-23-316; and

 

(iii) The prospective licensee provides the commissioner withevidence of financial responsibility in the form and in a minimum amount thecommissioner requires by regulation.

 

(b) Each title agent's license expires on the last day of themonth of the licensee's birthday in the second year following the issuance orrenewal of the license, and may be renewed by the commissioner upon filing bythe licensee, prior to the expiration of his license, of a properly completedrenewal application in the form the commissioner prescribes, and upon paymentof a renewal fee as provided by W.S. 26-4-101.

 

26-23-319. Title agents; records.

 

 

(a) A title agent shall keep books of account and records andvouchers pertaining to any business transacted under this article. All recordsshall be maintained in a manner that the commissioner may readily ascertainfrom time to time whether the title agent has complied with all applicableprovisions of this article.

 

(b) The commissioner, at any time during normal business hours,may examine, audit and inspect books and records maintained by title agentsunder this article.

 

26-23-320. Title agents; report of claims.

 

 

(a) A title agent shall immediately report every loss claim tothe title insurer that issued the policy against which the claim is presented.

 

(b) No title agent shall indemnify or pay the claim of anyinsured.

 

26-23-321. Title agents; refusal, suspension or revocation of license;fine instead of suspension.

 

 

(a) In addition to any other grounds stated in this article,the commissioner may refuse to license any person as a title agent, or maysuspend a title agent's license, after providing due notice and an opportunityto be heard, upon a finding that the person:

 

(i) Fails to meet the qualifications for licensure under thiscode;

 

(ii) Has violated any provision of this code or any rule orregulation of the commissioner;

 

(iii) Has made a material misstatement in an application for atitle insurance agent's license or has obtained a title insurance agent'slicense by fraud or willful misrepresentation;

 

(iv) Has misappropriated or converted to his own use fundsbelonging to applicants, insureds, title insurers, escrow participants orothers;

 

(v) Has intentionally misrepresented the terms of a titleinsurance policy to any applicant or policyholder or has misrepresentedmaterial facts to, concealed material facts from or made false statements toany party to an escrow, settlement or closing transaction;

 

(vi) Has in the conduct of his affairs under his title insuranceagent's license, used fraudulent, coercive or dishonest practices or has shownhimself to be incompetent, untrustworthy, financially irresponsible or a sourceof injury and loss to the public; or

 

(vii) Has aided, abetted or assisted another person in violatingthis article or any rule or regulation promulgated under this article.

 

(b) The commissioner may revoke the title agent's license ofany person convicted by final judgment of a felony.

 

(c) In addition to or without imposing the penalties specifiedin subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the commissioner may impose a finein an amount not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) foreach violation of this section or of any rule or regulation promulgated underthis section.

 

(d) Any of the penalties provided under this section may beimposed on a title agent other than a natural person for action of individualsdesignated by that insurance agent.

 

26-23-322. Rebates and inducements prohibited.

 

 

(a) No title insurer or title agent shall:

 

(i) Pay in any manner to any person any commission, any part ofits premiums, fees or other charges or any other consideration as inducement orcompensation for the referral of title business or for performance of anyescrow or other service by the title insurer or title agent;

 

(ii) Issue any title insurance policy or perform any service inconnection with any transaction in which it has paid or intends to pay anycommission, rebate or inducement which it knows to be in violation of thissection.

 

(b) No person shall knowingly receive or accept in any manner,any commission, rebate or inducement referred to in subsection (a) of thissection.

 

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibitingreasonable payments, other than for the referral of title insurance business,for services actually rendered to either a title insurer or a title agent inconnection with title insurance business.

 

26-23-323. Division of premiums and charges.

 

 

(a) Nothing in this article shall be construed as prohibitingthe division of premiums and charges between or among a title insurer and itstitle agent, two (2) or more title insurers, one (1) or more title insurers andone (1) or more title agents or two (2) or more title agents, provided thedivision of premiums and charges does not constitute:

 

(i) An unlawful rebate or inducement under this article; or

 

(ii) Payment of a forwarding fee or finder's fee.

 

26-23-324. Favored title agent or insurer.

 

 

(a) No producer or other person shall require in any manner asa condition, agreement or understanding to selling or furnishing any otherperson any loan or extension thereof, credit, sale, property, contract, leaseor service, that such other person shall place any contract of title insuranceof any kind through any particular title agent or title insurer. No title agentor title insurer shall knowingly participate in any such prohibited plan ortransaction. No person shall fix a price charged for such thing or service, ordiscount from or rebate upon price, on the condition, agreement orunderstanding that any title insurance is to be obtained through a particulartitle agent or title insurer.

 

(b) Any producer or other person who violates this section, orany title insurer or title agent who accepts an order for title insuranceknowing that it is in violation of this section, in addition to any otheraction which may be taken by the regulatory authority having jurisdiction, issubject to a fine by the commissioner in an amount equal to five (5) times thepremium for the title insurance.

 

(c) The commissioner may invoke the aid of the courts inenforcing any fines imposed under this section.

 

26-23-325. Premium rate standards.

 

 

(a) Premium rates shall not be inadequate, excessive orunfairly discriminatory.

 

(b) Rates are excessive if in the aggregate they are likely toproduce a long run profit that is unreasonably high in relation to theriskiness of the class of business, or if expenses are unreasonably high inrelation to the services rendered.

 

(c) Rates are inadequate if they are clearly insufficient,together with investment income attributable to them, to sustain projectedlosses and expenses, or if the continued use of such rates will have the effectof substantially lessening competition or the effect of tending to create amonopoly.

 

(d) Premium rates are unfairly discriminatory if the premiumcharged for any classification is not reasonably related to the servicesperformed or the risks assumed by the insurer, provided within rateclassifications, premiums, to a reasonable degree, may be less in the case of smallerinsurances and the excess may be charged against larger insurances withoutrendering the rate unfairly discriminatory.

 

(e) In making or reviewing rates, consideration shall be givento past and prospective loss experience, to exposure to loss, to underwritingpractice and judgment, to past and prospective expenses including amounts paidto or retained by title agents, to investment income, to a reasonable marginfor profit and contingencies and to any other relevant factors both within andoutside of this state.

 

(f) The commissioner may promulgate rules or regulationssetting forth guidelines for evaluation of rates. These regulations may includeconsideration of:

 

(i) Costs of underwriting risks assumed by the insurer;

 

(ii) Amounts paid to or retained by title agents;

 

(iii) Operating expenses of the insurer other than underwritingand claims expenses;

 

(iv) Payment of claims and claim related expenses;

 

(v) Investment income;

 

(vi) Reasonable profit;

 

(vii) Premium taxes; and

 

(viii) Any other factors the commissioner deems relevant.

 

26-23-326. Premium rate schedules.

 

 

(a) A title insurer shall file with the commissioner thepremium rate schedules it proposes to use in this state. If the commissionerfinds in his review of a filing that it does not violate W.S. 26-23-325, heshall approve the schedule within thirty (30) days of filing. Prior to suchapproval, the commissioner may conduct public hearings with respect to thefiling. Filings that the commissioner fails to approve or disapprove withinthirty (30) days of filing are approved. Upon notice to the title insurer, theperiod for review of rate filing may be extended for an additional thirty (30)days. If within the waiting period or extension thereof the commissioner findsthat the filing does violate W.S. 26-23-325, he shall give written notice ofdisapproval of the filing to the insurer or rating organization which made thefiling, specifying therein in what specific respects he finds the filingviolates W.S. 26-23-325 and stating that the filing shall not become effective.

 

(b) If at any time after the approval of filing, thecommissioner believes that the filing does not meet the requirements of thissection or is otherwise contrary to law, or if any party having an interest inthe filing makes a written complaint to the commissioner setting forth specificand reasonable grounds for the complaint, or if any insurer, upon notice ofdisapproval by the commissioner of a filing pursuant to this section, requests,the commissioner shall hold a hearing within thirty (30) days and shall givewritten notice of the hearing to all parties in interest. The commissioner mayconfirm, modify, change or rescind any previous action, if warranted by thefacts shown at the hearing.

 

(c) No title insurer or title agent shall use or collect anypremium after May 27, 1983, except in accordance with the premium rate schedulefiled with and approved by the commissioner as required by this section. Thecommissioner may provide by regulation for interim use of premium rateschedules in effect prior to May 27, 1983.

 

26-23-327. Publication of schedules of premiums and charges.

 

 

(a) Each title insurer and title agent shall print and makeavailable to the public schedules of its currently effective premiums andcharges.

 

(b) The schedules shall:

 

(i) Be dated to show the date the premiums and charges becameeffective;

 

(ii) Be kept available to the public during normal businesshours in each office of the title insurer or title agent in this state; and

 

(iii) Set forth the total premium and charge for each type oftitle insurance policy or service issued or provided by the title insurer ortitle agent either by stating the premium or charge for each type of titleinsurance policy in given amounts of coverage or for each service, or bystating the premium or charge rate per unit amount of coverage, or by acombination of the two.

 

(c) Each title insurer and title agent shall keep a completefile of its schedules of premium and charges and of all changes and amendmentsto those schedules until at least five (5) years after they cease to be ineffect.

 

26-23-328. Form filing.

 

 

(a) A title insurer shall file with the commissioner any formsit proposes to use in this state, including:

 

(i) Title insurance policies, including standard formendorsements;

 

(ii) "Preliminary reports", "commitments","binders" or any other reports issued prior to the issuance of atitle insurance policy.

 

(b) If the commissioner finds in his review of a filing that itdoes not violate W.S. 26-23-329, he shall approve the form within thirty (30)days of filing. Prior to such approval, the commissioner may conduct publichearings with respect to the filing. Filings that the commissioner has failedto approve or disapprove within thirty (30) days of filing are deemed approved.Upon notice to the title insurer, the period for review of a form filing may beextended for an additional thirty (30) days. If, within the waiting period orextension thereof, the commissioner finds that the filing does violate W.S.26-23-329, he shall give written notice of disapproval of the filing to theinsurer or rating organization which made the filing, specifying therein inwhat specific respects he finds the filing violates W.S. 26-23-329 and statingthat the filing shall not become effective.

 

(c) A title insurer need not file reinsurance contracts andagreements.

 

(d) No title insurer may issue, directly or through a titleagent, any policy after May 27, 1983, unless the policy form has been approvedpursuant to this section. The commissioner may provide by regulation forinterim use of forms in effect prior to May 27, 1983.

 

26-23-329. Form standards.

 

 

(a) The commissioner shall approve any form filed under W.S.26-23-328 only if the form:

 

(i) Is written in simple language logically and clearlyarranged and is understandable to a person of normal intelligence withoutspecial insurance or legal knowledge or training;

 

(ii) Does not contain or incorporate by reference anyinconsistent, ambiguous or misleading clauses, exceptions or conditionsdeceptively affecting the risk purported to be assumed in the affirmativecoverage of the contract;

 

(iii) Does not contain any misleading title, heading or otherindication of its coverage;

 

(iv) Is not printed or otherwise reproduced in such a manner asto render any provision of the form substantially illegible; and

 

(v) Is otherwise in compliance with this code.

 

26-23-330. Endorsements.

 

Anyapproved policy form or endorsement providing any coverage for which noidentifiable premium is assessed shall be incorporated in every policy of titleinsurance of the type to which the form or endorsement pertains issued by theinsurer offering the approved form or endorsements. The insurer shall discloseany such additional coverage to the insured. This section does not operate toeliminate any underwriting standard or conditions relating to the approvedpolicy forms or endorsements.

 

26-23-331. Notice of issuance of mortgagee policy.

 

 

(a) A title insurer or title agent that issues a mortgagee'spolicy of title insurance on a loan made simultaneous to the purchase of all orpart of the residential property securing the loan, if no owner's policy hasbeen ordered, shall inform the borrower in writing that the mortgagee's policyis to be issued, that the mortgagee's policy does not protect the borrower andthat the borrower may obtain an owner's title insurance policy for hisprotection. This notice shall be provided before disbursement of the loanproceeds and before issuance of the mortgagee's policy. The notice shall be ona form the commissioner prescribes.

 

(b) If the borrower elects not to purchase an owner's titleinsurance policy, the title insurer or title agent shall obtain from him astatement in writing that the notice has been received and that the borrowerwaives the right to purchase an owner's title insurance policy. If the buyerrefuses to provide the statement and waiver, the title insurer or title agentshall so note in the file. The statement and waiver shall be on a form thecommissioner prescribes, and shall be retained by the title insurer or titleagent for at least five (5) years after receipt.

 

26-23-332. Filing by rating bureaus permitted.

 

 

(a) A title insurer may satisfy its obligation to make premiumrate and form filings as required by this article by becoming a member of, or asubscriber to, a rating organization organized and licensed under this code,which organization makes such filings, and by authorizing the commissioner inwriting to accept those filings on its behalf.

 

(b) Nothing in this article shall be construed as:

 

(i) Requiring any title insurer to become a member of, or asubscriber to, any rating organization; or

 

(ii) Prohibiting the filing of deviations from ratingorganization filings by any member or subscriber.

 

26-23-333. Regulations.

 

 

(a) In addition to any other powers granted under this article,the commissioner may adopt rules or regulations to protect the interests of thepublic including but not limited to regulations governing:

 

(i) Sales practices;

 

(ii) Policy coverage standards;

 

(iii) Rebates and inducements;

 

(iv) Controlled business;

 

(v) Unfair trade practices and fraud;

 

(vi) Statistical plans for data collection;

 

(vii) Consumer education;

 

(viii) Any other consumer matters;

 

(ix) The business of title insurance; or

 

(x) Any regulations otherwise implementing or interpreting thisarticle.

 

26-23-334. Enforcement.

 

 

(a) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this article,any person who violates this article in addition to or instead of suspension orrevocation of the violator's license, is subject to a civil penalty of fivehundred dollars ($500.00) per violation. For purposes of this article eachindividual transaction which is not in conformance with this article isconsidered a violation.

 

(b) This article is enforceable only by the commissioner andshall not create any private cause of action or other private legal recourse.

 

(c) The commissioner may invoke the aid of the courts inenforcing this article.

 

26-23-335. Filing of schedule of risk rates; attaching schedule ofrates and charges to policy.

 

Eachtitle insurer shall file with the commissioner a complete schedule of rates foror in connection with title insurance as to property located in this state. Theschedule shall set forth the entire premium to be charged to the public foreach type of policy included within the schedule and shall include withoutseparate statement the portion of the charge for risk assumption and theportion which is based on work performed in the search and examination of thetitle. There shall be no separate filing by an agent of the title insurer.

 

26-23-336. Mortgagee policies.

 

Ifa title insurance policy is issued insuring the title to real estate only as toa mortgagee, the insurer shall conspicuously show on the face of the policy andon any evidence thereof delivered to the mortgagor that coverage is limited tothe interest of the mortgagee only.

 

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