Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Review of Fidelity National Insurance Company and the Covenant of Good Faith


Fidelity National Title Insurance Company may breach the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, commonly referred to as acting in "bad faith," when they unreasonably  or willfully deny benefits under an existing and enforceable insurance policy on a valid claim.

This is the most frequent question that I get on this blog.  Although others have shared their stories I feel I can only comment on my own experience as a claimant with Fidelity National Title and did I feel that they did not protect by interest in my real estate investment and I feel that Fidelity acted in bad faith.  This is my opinion but I have provided what I feel is evidence of this fact in multiple posts on this blog.


1.  Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company refuse to pay a valid insurance claim?  My claim was opened by a Fidelity Title Officer on my behalf so there was never a question that my claim was valid but in order to not pay the claim which in my estimation was in excess of $700,000 Fidelity National Title Insurance Company hired an appraiser from Boise Idaho to determine the value of the loss of a mile long access easement to my property in the Napa Valley of California.  He determined that the value of this easement was $0.  I consider this a refusal to pay.  After filing a lawsuit Fidelity did pay for about a tenth of the loss - as I could not afford to continue fighting them to get Fidelity to do the right thing.

2.  Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company refuse to pay the full value of your claim under the insurance policy?  Yes in my opinion I believe they refused to pay the full value of the claim.  I have an evaluation of value that shows that they refused to pay the full value of the claim.  This document was given to the Fidelity National Title Insurance Company's in house attorneys and they communicated that Fidelity would not pay more than a tenth the value of the loss without my pursuing them with a full blown trial which they knew I could not afford.

3. Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company take too long to pay or deny your insurance claim?  I worked diligently for years to get Fidelity National Title Insurance Company to pay my insurance claim.  Instead of paying the claim they bounced me from the Walnut Creek office to the Chicago office and finally to Omaha Nebraska where I had multiple Claims Counsels.  The second appraisal was only done in response to my contacting the California Department of Insurance.

4.  Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company refuse to provide an attorney to defend you or your property rights?  Although it was during the claims process determined that the easement was valid no attempt was ever made to defend my rights to this easement by Fidelity National Title Insurance Company.

5.  Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company fail to timely, thoroughly, objectively and fairly investigate your insurance claim?  "Insurance companies are supposed to be on your side when you file a claim.  Generally, the insurance company is supposed to look for insurance coverage - not ways to deny your claim.  The claim process is not supposed to be adversarial.  The insurance company is not suppose to put its interests above yours."  Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and the Claims Counsels who were assigned to my claim were in my opinion NEVER on my side.  They did not look for insurance coverage.  Instead as it has been documented previously in this blog all that the did especially in the hiring of an appraiser from out of the area they actively looked for ways to not pay the claim.  I believe it was obvious that their job was to protect the bottom line profits of Fidelity National Title and not to protect my interest in my real estate.

The bottom line is do I feel that Fidelity National Title acted in bad faith in the handling of my claim??  Absolutely.  I believe that the evidence that I found just days before the Settlement Conference of bad faith is the only reason that they did raise their settlement offer by $25,000.  My only regret is having accepted the settlement and not having the time, energy and money to continue the battle so that they not only had to pay for my loss but they also would have had to pay for the hundreds of hours I spent trying to get them to honor my insurance policy and pay the valid claim.  And I feel that if they would have been found guilty of acting in bad faith that this would have been a great win for consumers.

As I knew that I could not continue on the battle the only requirement I really had in the Settlement Agreement was that there was no clause that prevented my from blogging and expressing my opinions about Fidelity National Title and what I feel was definitely an unfair handling of my valid title insurance claim.

So would I ever use Fidelity National Title Insurance Company to insure real estate??  Absolutely and unequivocally not.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Has Fidelity National Title Insurance Company acted in Bad Faith in the Handling of Your Claim????

As I have heard from dozens of claimants insured by Fidelity National Title Insurance Company.  Although the particulars of each claim is unique the handling of the claim is consistent.  Each claimant felt that they either had to fight to get Fidelity to accept the claim and once accepted they were bounced from office to office delaying the handling of the claim and finally found that the claim was not paid to the value of the loss.

Fidelity National Title Insurance Company may breach the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, commonly referred to as acting in "bad faith," when they unreasonably  or willfully deny benefits under an existing and enforceable insurance policy on a valid claim.

In other words, it is enough to show bad faith if Fidelity National Title Insurance Company simply handles your claim in an unreasonable fashion.  If Fidelity National Title Insurance Company has acted in bad faith, you have a right to seek legal representation by an experienced bad faith insurance attorney.

Are you involved in a claim on your property with Fidelity National Title Insurance Company please ask yourself the following questions:

1.  Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company refuse to pay a valid insurance claim?  Sometimes insurance companies refuse to pay a valid claim without any reasonable or valid justification.  Such conduct is quintessential bad faith.

2.  Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company refuse to pay the full value of your claim under the insurance policy?  An insurance company must pay all that it owes you.  Anything less is unreasonable and in bad faith.

3. Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company take too long to pay or deny your insurance claim?  Most who buy insurance expect our valid claims to be paid right away.  Generally insurance companies are required to accept or deny your insurance claim within forty days.  Unreasonable and unjustified delay is bad faith.

4.  Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company refuse to provide an attorney to defend you or your property rights?  Most auto, homeowners and business insurance policies have liability provisions.  This means that if you are sued, and you are covered under the policy, Fidelity National Title Insurance Company has to pay for your attorneys plus other expenses necessary to defend you.  Unreasonably refusing to provide such a defense is bad faith.

5.  Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company fail to timely, thoroughly, objectively and fairly investigate your insurance claim?  Insurance companies are supposed to be on your side when you file a claim.  Generally, the insurance company is supposed to look for insurance coverage - not ways to deny your claim.  The claim process is not supposed to be adversarial.  The insurance company is not suppose to put its interests above yours.  Failure to investigate your insurance claim fairly and objectively is unreasonable and in bad faith.  (This is the most common complaint that I receive from individuals that are insured by Fidelity National Title Insurance Company.)

6.  Did Fidelity National Title Insurance Company fail to comply with your state's fair claims settlement regulations?  We all need insurance.  In some circumstances it is required by law, such as automobile liability coverage.  Insurance has become a vital part of our society.  Because it is so important and subject to abuse by insurance carriers, some states have passed legislation to regulate insurance carriers.  These regulations tell insurance companies certain things that they must do when adjusting your insurance claim.  And insurance company's failure to follow these regulations is unreasonable and evidence of bad faith.

If you answered yes to any of these questions about Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, you may be entitled to all damages caused by this bad faith conduct including emotional distress, lost income, lost opportunity, insurance attorney fees, interest and other types of damages.

Stand tall, Stand firm.

.

Friday, January 17, 2014

What is the best way to reach people who are thinking of using Fidelity National Title??

I am open to any ideas on how to reach people who are thinking of purchasing title insurance from Fidelity National Title Insurance Company.  I confess I did try Yelp and quite a few people discovered my website from these posting but I agree that this is not the correct vehicle.  Does anyone have any good ideas??


Thank you and I understand although this is a nationwide problem.  Although I purchased the insurance from the office in Sonoma the claim was handled in three different offices across the country.  Sigh.  I hope that you do not mind if I include this on my blog – again I am just trying to find a way to let consumers know about how this company – which is a national company operates.

 

Ann Zollinger

 

From: Yelp HQ [mailto:no-reply@yelp.com]
Sent: Friday, January 17, 2014 3:24 PM
Subject: Message from Yelp HQ [ 2092046 ]
_________________________________

JAN 17, 2014  |  03:23PM PST
Hi Ann,

We wanted to let you know that we've removed your reviews of Fidelity National Title. Our Support team has determined that they fall outside our Content Guidelines (
http://www.yelp.com/guidelines) because of their promotional content. When reviewing, you should review the location with which you had a firsthand experience, rather than posting the same experience across multiple listings. Thanks for understanding.

We hope you will continue to participate on Yelp, while keeping in mind our Content Guidelines.


Regards,
Clarence
Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

Monday, November 4, 2013

The California Insurance Department and Fidelity National Title Insurance Company Settle Illegal Rebating Claims

 
It was reported that the California Insurance Department entered into a $1.25 million settlement agreement with Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and its affiliates, regarding claims that the company engaged in illegal rebating activities. Fidelity also agreed to reimburse the Department $175,000 of its costs. An investigation revealed that Fidelity allegedly allowed realtors and other providers to pay a sublicensing fee for use of a technology platform to access orders placed with the insurer. The agreements were allegedly used to induce the referral of title, escrow and home warranty business.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Has Anyone Had a Good and Fair Experience in Settling a Claim with Fidelity National Title Company??

An interesting question at best.  I have heard from dozens of people who feel as I do - that Fidelity National Title Company was terrific during the escrow and closing process...............

but when a problem occurred with the property their was absolutely no one their to help the insured.  The claims counsel assigned to the claim was not their to assist the claimant, the insured, but rather was there to represent Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and their shareholders - of which the company take pride in the fact that the employees are shareholders.  To me this is a conflict in interest as the more claims that are not paid - the more valuable the shares of Fidelity National Title become.

Additionally, which is not apparent at first, all of the communication and the distances of the Fidelity National Title employees and people they hire such as the appraiser are designed to make suing them difficult and expensive and inaccessible.

My advise for working with a company like Fidelity National Title Insurance Company is to get everything in writing.  When something is not clear push hard for clarity - in writing.  When you receive a generic legalize type letter push hard for clarity - in writing.

I believe the treating of claims is completely hidden from the insureds when they purchase their title insurance. There is no one there to truly represent your interests in your property - at least there was not in my case. The claims counsels were there to represent the bottom profit line of Fidelity National Title.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

And Yet Another Claimant Heard From

....and once again - the title company is not making an admission of being in the wrong and yet they are willing to pay something (I did advise against just using their appraissal as they will just low ball the problem in my experience) - but here is another good example of how confusing the process is and how the claims counsel does not truly appear to be there for the client/customer/us.
 
 
"Just got an email from the title insurance company...it's a bit greek to me...mind reading it and giving your opinion on it?

Thanks,"

 

Good morning:

One of our options under the policy in the case of a claim is to determine what the loss would be, whether or not we believe there is coverage.  In this case, here is an easement across most of the paved area on Lot 8 so it appears to be a trespass, not a title issue.  Also, because there does not appear to be a recorded easement for the storm drain that allegedly runs through Lot 9, it too would appear to be a trespass and not a title issue.
 
Under the policy, the measure of loss is the difference, if any, in the value of the property with and without the issues in question.  Although we do not concede that there are claims or rights to the property that were not excepted from coverage, we have opted to determine the diminution in value attributable to the paved driveway and the underground storm drain.  If you have any ideas of what you believe the loss to be, then please let me know.  Otherwise, I will retain an appraiser to evaluate the property and provide a value.

 Thank you,

Friday, September 20, 2013

Gag Orders and Fidelity National Title Insurance Company

Well I believe that communication is finally starting to take affect.  In addition to this blog now having been read by tens of thousands of people and that number is growing every day........... I now have a new statistic to keep track of!!

Two people who contacted me while their cases/claims were still active have settled with Fidelity National Title.  And the good news for this blog is that in both cases they were offered substantially more money by signing a gag order - that is an agreement to not discuss the particulars of their case - than if they did not.  Needless to say I did not press them for more information - their communication was merely a thank you and stating they could no longer participate by telling their stories.

So although we cannot all benefit from their experiences other than what may already be posted on this blog - the good news is apparently (hopefully) Fidelity National Title is starting to listen and perhaps - just perhaps - is treating their clients with more respect than I feel they treated me.