Law:Title 11. Title Insurance. Subtitle D. Title Insurance Professionals (Texas)

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Subtitle D. Title Insurance Professionals

Contents

Chapter 2651. Title Insurance Agents And Direct Operations

Subchapter A. Title Insurance Agent's License

Section  2651.001.  License And Bond Or Deposit Required.

(a) An individual, firm, association, or corporation may not act in this state as a title insurance agent for a title insurance company unless the individual or entity:

(1)  holds a license as an agent issued by the department; and

(2)  maintains a surety bond or deposit required under Subchapter C.

(b)  A title insurance company may not allow or permit an individual, firm, association, or corporation to act as its agent in this state unless the individual or entity complies with this section.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.002.  License Application.

(a) Before an initial license is issued to an individual, firm, association, or corporation to act as an agent in this state for a title insurance company, the company must file an application for an agent's license with the department on forms provided by the department.

(b)  The application must be:

(1)  accompanied by a nonrefundable license fee; and

(2)  signed and sworn to by the title insurance company and by the proposed agent.

(c)  The completed application must state that:

(1)  the proposed agent is:

(A)  an individual who is a bona fide resident of this state;

(B)  an association or firm composed only of Texas residents; or

(C)  a Texas corporation or a foreign corporation authorized to engage in business in this state;

(2)  the proposed agent  has unencumbered assets in excess of liabilities, exclusive of the value of abstract plants, as required by Section 2651.012;

(3)  the proposed agent, including a corporation's managerial personnel, if applicable, has reasonable experience or instruction in the field of title insurance;

(4)  the title insurance company:

(A)  knows that the proposed agent has a good business reputation and is worthy of the public trust; and

(B)  is unaware of any fact or condition that disqualifies the proposed agent from receiving a license; and

(5)  the proposed agent qualifies as a title insurance agent under this chapter.

(d)  Except as provided by Section 2651.0021(e), an agent applying for an initial license under this subchapter must provide evidence that the agent and its management personnel have successfully completed a professional training program that complies with Section 2651.0021. The program must have been completed within one year preceding the date of application.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1025, Sec. 11, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section 2651.0021.  Professional Training Program.

(a) The commissioner shall adopt by rule a professional training program for a title insurance agent and the management personnel of the title insurance agent.

(b)  The professional training program must be designed to provide information regarding:

(1)  the basic principles and coverages related to title insurance;

(2)  recent and prospective changes in those principles and coverages;

(3)  applicable rules and laws;

(4)  proper conduct of the license holder's title insurance business;

(5)  accounting principles and practices and financial responsibilities and practices relevant to title insurance; and

(6)  the duties and responsibilities of a title insurance agent.

(c)  Professional training program hours may be used to satisfy the continuing education requirements established under Section 2651.204.

(d)  A professional training program course must be offered by:

(1)  a statewide title insurance association, statewide title agents' association or professional association, or local chapter of a statewide title insurance or title agents' association or professional association;

(2)  an accredited college or university;

(3)  a career school or college as defined by Section 132.001, Education Code;

(4)  the State Bar of Texas;

(5)  an educational publisher;

(6)  a title insurance company authorized to engage in business in this state;

(7)  a company that owns one or more title insurance companies authorized to engage in business in this state;

(8)  a public school system in this state; or

(9)  an individual accredited as an instructor by an entity described by Subdivisions (1)-(8).

(e)  An individual is exempt from the professional training requirement of this section if the individual has held in this state for at least five years a position as management personnel with a title insurance agent, or a comparable position, as determined under rules adopted by the commissioner.

Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1025, Sec. 12, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  2651.003.  License And Renewal Fees.

(a) The department shall prescribe the license fee in an amount not to exceed $50.

(b)  License fees, and renewal fees collected under this subchapter, shall be deposited to the credit of the Texas Department of Insurance operating account to be used by the department to enforce this chapter and any other law of this state that regulates title insurance agents.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.004.  License Issuance.

The department shall issue a license if the department determines, based on the application and the department's investigation, that the requirements of Section 2651.002 are satisfied.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.005.  Duplicate License.

(a) The department shall collect in advance a fee from a title insurance agent who requests a duplicate license.

(b)  The department shall prescribe the fee in an amount not to exceed $20.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.006.  License Term.

Unless a system of staggered license renewal is adopted under Section 4003.002, a license issued under this subchapter expires on June 1 after the second anniversary of the date of issuance.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.007.  License Renewal.

(a) A title insurance agent may renew a license by:

(1)  filing a completed license renewal application form with the department; and

(2)  paying the nonrefundable license renewal fee to the department.

(b)  The department shall prescribe the license renewal application form.

(c)  The department shall prescribe the license renewal fee in an amount not to exceed $50.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.008.  Records Of Agents.

The department shall maintain a record of the name and address of each title insurance agent licensed by the department in a manner that ensures that the agents appointed by any company authorized to engage in the business of title insurance in this state may be conveniently ascertained and inspected by any person on request.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.009.  Multiple Appointments.

(a) A licensed title insurance agent may be appointed to represent additional title insurance companies.

(b)  Any additional title insurance company must notify the department of the appointment in the manner prescribed by the department. The agent must include with the notice a nonrefundable fee for each additional appointment. The department shall prescribe the fee in an amount not to exceed $16.

(c)  The appointment is effective on the eighth day following the date the department receives the completed notice of appointment and the fee, unless the department rejects the appointment. If the department rejects the appointment, the department shall state in writing the reasons for rejection not later than the seventh day after the date on which the department receives the completed notice of appointment.

(d)  A title insurance company may not permit an agent appointed by the company to write, sign, or deliver title insurance until the agent's appointment is effective.

(e)  The appointment remains effective, without the necessity of renewal, until the appointment:

(1)  is terminated by the title insurance company as provided by this section; or

(2)  is otherwise terminated under this subchapter.

(f)  A renewal license issued to an agent authorizes the agent to represent and act for the title insurance companies for which the agent holds appointments until the appointments are terminated, and the agent is considered to be the agent of the appointing companies for purposes of this subchapter.

(g)  When a title insurance company terminates the appointment of an agent, the company shall immediately file with the department a statement that contains:

(1)  the facts relating to the termination of the appointment; and

(2)  the effective date and reason for the termination.

(h)  On receipt of the statement, the department shall terminate the appointment of the agent to represent that title insurance company in this state.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.010.  Suspension Of License.

The department shall suspend the license of a title insurance agent during any period in which the agent does not have a valid appointment. The department shall end the suspension when the department receives an acceptable notice of a valid appointment.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section 2651.011.  Privileged Communications; Financial Information.

(a) Any information, including a document, record, or statement, and including information provided to or received from the commissioner under Subsection (b) or (c), or any other information required or permitted to be made or disclosed to or by the department under this subchapter, other than Section 2651.001, is not public information subject to Chapter 552, Government Code, except to the extent described by Subsection (b), and is a privileged communication and may not be disclosed to the public except as evidence in an administrative hearing or proceeding.  This subsection does not apply to a document, record, or statement required to be made or disclosed to the department under Chapter 36.

(b)  A title insurance company may provide information to the commissioner about a financial matter that would reasonably call into question the solvency of a title agent that the title insurance company appointed.  Each title insurance company shall provide annually to the department a list of officers authorized to provide to the department the information under this subsection. Information provided under this subsection is not subject to Chapter 552, Government Code, except that the commissioner may release information that the commissioner received under this subsection to a title insurance company that has appointed, or that is considering appointing, the title agent.  The commissioner may also release information that the commissioner received under this subsection to a title agent under Section 2651.206, Insurance Code, if the information is evidence on which an audit report or examination report relies.  A title insurance company that receives information under this subsection may not release the information except under a subpoena issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(c)  Each title insurance agent shall provide the department, on a quarterly basis, with a copy of the agent's quarterly withholding tax report furnished by the agent to the United States Internal Revenue Service. The title insurance agent must also provide to the department proof of the payment of the tax.  An agent that does not have employees shall certify to the department on a quarterly basis that there has not been a material change in the agent's financial condition.

(d)  The commissioner by rule may prescribe the types of information under Subsections (b) and (c) that are privileged under Subsection (a).

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1025, Sec. 13, eff. September 1, 2009.



For contingent effect of this section, see Subsection (j).

For expiration of Subsections (g) and (i), see Subsection (i).

Section 2651.012.  Unencumbered Assets.

(a) In this section:

(1)  "Principal office" means a principal office of the business organization, unincorporated association, sole proprietorship, or partnership in this state in which the decision makers for the organization conduct the daily affairs of the organization.  The presence of an agency or representative does not establish a principal office.

(2)  "Unencumbered assets" means:

(A)  cash or cash equivalents;

(B)  liquid assets that have a readily determinable market value and that do not have any lien against them;

(C)  real estate, in excess of any encumbrances;

(D)  investments, such as mutual funds, certificates of deposit, and stocks and bonds;

(E)  a surety bond, the form and content of which shall be prescribed by the commissioner in accordance with this code;

(F)  a deposit made in accordance with Section 2651.102; and

(G)  a letter of credit that meets the requirements of Section 493.104(b)(2)(C).

(b)  The unencumbered assets required under this section are reserves for contingencies.  The reserves must be deducted from premiums for purposes of proceedings conducted under Subchapter D, Chapter 2703.  The reserves may only be spent or released:

(1)  as permitted by the commissioner if the agent is declared impaired;

(2)  if the agent merges or consolidates with another agent who maintains the amount of unencumbered assets that would be required for the survivor of the merger or consolidation;

(3)  if the agent surrenders the agent's license under Section 2651.201 and the rules adopted under that section; or

(4)  if the agent is liquidated.

(c)  Except as provided by Subsection (d), an agent must maintain unencumbered assets with a market value in excess of liabilities, exclusive of the value of abstract plants, in the following amounts unless the commissioner establishes lesser amounts by rule:

(1)  if the agent maintains its principal office in a county with a population of 10,000 or more but less than 50,000: $25,000;

(2)  if the agent maintains its principal office in a county with a population of 50,000 or more but less than 200,000: $50,000;

(3)  if the agent maintains its principal office in a county with a population of 200,000 or more but less than one million: $100,000; and

(4)  if the agent maintains its principal office in a county with a population of one million or more: $150,000.

(d)  Except as provided by the commissioner by rule, an agent that maintains its principal office in a county with a population of less than 10,000 is exempt from this section.

(e)  An agent that maintains a principal office in more than one county must meet the asset standards for the largest county for which the agent will hold a license.

(f)  An agent may elect to:

(1)  maintain unencumbered assets as required by this section; or

(2)  place a deposit with the department as authorized by Section 2652.102.

(g)  An agent that holds a license on September 1, 2009, and that has held the license for at least three years as of that date is not required to comply with Subsection (c) on September 1, 2009, but shall increase the unencumbered assets held by the agent, or make and increase the required deposit, until the agent is in compliance with the required capitalization amounts in accordance with the schedule established under this subsection. The agent must hold unencumbered assets, or make a deposit in an amount, such that:

(1)  if the agent has been licensed at least three years but less than four years:

(A)  the agent has at least 33 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2010;

(B)  the agent has at least 66 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2011; and

(C)  the agent has at least 100 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2012;

(2)  if the agent has been licensed at least four years but less than five years:

(A)  the agent has at least 25 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2010;

(B)  the agent has at least 50 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2011;

(C)  the agent has at least 75 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2012; and

(D)  the agent has at least 100 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2013;

(3)  if the agent has been licensed at least five years but less than six years:

(A)  the agent has at least 20 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2010;

(B)  the agent has at least 40 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2011;

(C)  the agent has at least 60 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2012;

(D)  the agent has at least 80 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2013; and

(E)  the agent has at least 100 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2014;

(4)  if the agent has been licensed at least six years but less than seven years:

(A)  the agent has at least 16.66 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2010;

(B)  the agent has at least 33.32 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2011;

(C)  the agent has at least 49.98 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2012;

(D)  the agent has at least 66.64 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2013;

(E)  the agent has at least 83.3 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2014; and

(F)  the agent has at least 100 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2015;

(5)  if the agent has been licensed at least seven years but less than eight years:

(A)  the agent has at least 14.29 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2010;

(B)  the agent has at least 28.58 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2011;

(C)  the agent has at least 42.87 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2012;

(D)  the agent has at least 57.16 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2013;

(E)  the agent has at least 71.45 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2014;

(F)  the agent has at least 85.74 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2015; and

(G)  the agent has at least 100 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2016;

(6)  if the agent has been licensed at least eight years but less than nine years:

(A)  the agent has at least 12.5 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2010;

(B)  the agent has at least 25 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2011;

(C)  the agent has at least 37.5 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2012;

(D)  the agent has at least 50 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2013;

(E)  the agent has at least 62.5 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2014;

(F)  the agent has at least 75 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2015;

(G)  the agent has at least 87.5 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2016; and

(H)  the agent has at least 100 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2017; and

(7)  if the agent has been licensed at least nine years:

(A)  the agent has at least 11.11 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2010;

(B)  the agent has at least 22.22 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2011;

(C)  the agent has at least 33.33 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2012;

(D)  the agent has at least 44.44 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2013;

(E)  the agent has at least 55.55 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2014;

(F)  the agent has at least 66.66 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2015;

(G)  the agent has at least 77.77 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2016;

(H)  the agent has at least 88.88 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2017; and

(I)  the agent has at least 100 percent of the required capitalization amount on September 1, 2018.

(h)  If the agent has been licensed less than three years as of September 1, 2009, the agent must have:

(1)  at least 50 percent of the required capitalization amount required under Subsection (c) on September 1, 2010; and

(2)  100 percent of that required capitalization amount on September 1, 2011.

(i)  This subsection and Subsection (g) expire September 2, 2018.

(j)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, this section takes effect only after the commissioner adopts the form, content, and procedures for use of the surety bond authorized under Subsection (a).  The commissioner by rule shall establish the procedures for making, filing, using, and paying for the surety bond.  Notwithstanding Subsections (g) and (h), the commissioner by rule may extend the dates established under those subsections as necessary to comply with this subsection.

Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1025, Sec. 14, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section 2651.013.  Division Of Premium Held In Trust; Rules.

(a) The funds held by a title insurance agent that are owed to a title insurance company, another title insurance agent, or a direct operation arising from a division of premium, whether as determined under rules adopted by the commissioner or by agreement among the parties, are considered to be held in trust for the title insurance company, other title insurance agent, or direct operation.

(b)  This section does not require, and the commissioner may not require by rule, that funds described by Subsection (a) be held in a separate account subject to an external audit.  This section does not affect the department's or association's authority to examine or audit a title agent or direct operation.

Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1025, Sec. 14, eff. September 1, 2009.



Subchapter B. Direct Operation License

Section  2651.051.  License Required.

(a) A title insurance company may not own or lease and operate an abstract plant or participate in a bona fide joint abstract plant operation in a county in this state unless the company holds a license as a direct operation issued by the department for that county.

(b)  A title insurance company may not write, sign, or deliver title insurance in a county in which the company operates an abstract plant until the department has issued a direct operation license to the company.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.052.  License Application.

(a) Before a direct operation license is issued to a title insurance company, the company must file an application for a direct operation license on forms provided by the department.

(b)  The application must be:

(1)  accompanied by a nonrefundable license fee; and

(2)  signed and sworn to by the title insurance company.

(c)  The completed application must state that:

(1)  the title insurance company is a Texas corporation or a foreign corporation holding a certificate of authority to insure titles to real property in this state and meets the requirements of this title; and

(2)  the abstract plant to be licensed:

(A)  complies with department requirements relating to abstract plants; and

(B)  has been approved by the department.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.053.  License And Renewal Fees.

(a) The department shall prescribe the license fee in an amount not to exceed $50.

(b)  License fees, and renewal fees collected under this subchapter, shall be deposited to the credit of the Texas Department of Insurance operating account to be used by the department to enforce this chapter and the laws of this state that regulate title insurance agents and title insurance companies.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.054.  License Term.

Unless a system of staggered license renewal is adopted, a license issued under this subchapter expires on the second June 1 following the date of issuance.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.055.  License Renewal.

(a) On or before the expiration date of a license issued under this subchapter, a title insurance company may renew the license by:

(1)  certifying to the department each county and address at which the company operates the abstract plant for each license to be renewed;

(2)  filing a completed renewal application; and

(3)  paying a nonrefundable license renewal fee for each license.

(b)  The department shall provide the forms used under this section.

(c)  The department shall prescribe the license renewal fee in an amount not to exceed $50.

(d)  If a license has been expired for 90 days or less, the license holder may renew the license by paying to the department the required nonrefundable renewal fee and a nonrefundable fee equal to one-half of the original license fee.

(e)  If a license has been expired for more than 90 days, the license may not be renewed.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.056.  Ceasing Operation Of Abstract Plant; Request For License Cancellation.

If a title insurance company ceases to operate a licensed abstract plant, the company shall immediately notify the department in writing and request cancellation of the license.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.057.  Automatic Termination Of Licenses.

If a title insurance company surrenders the company's certificate of authority or if the certificate of authority is revoked by the department, all licenses of the company's abstract plants automatically terminate.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.058.  Records Of Direct Operations.

The department shall maintain a record of the county and address of each location at which a title insurance company operates an abstract plant in a manner that ensures that the abstract plants may be conveniently ascertained and inspected by any person on request.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.059.  Use Of Agents Not Prohibited.

This subchapter does not prohibit a title insurance company from issuing title insurance through a licensed title insurance agent.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Subchapter C. Bond And Deposit Requirements

Section  2651.101.  Bond Required.

(a) Each licensed title insurance agent and direct operation shall make, file, and pay for a surety bond payable to the department and issued by a corporate surety company authorized to write surety bonds in this state. The bond shall obligate the principal and surety to pay for any pecuniary loss sustained by:

(1)  any participant in an insured real property transaction through an act of fraud, dishonesty, theft, embezzlement, or wilful misapplication by a title insurance agent or direct operation; or

(2)  the department as a result of any administrative expense incurred in a receivership of a title insurance agent or direct operation.

(b)  The amount of the bond must be the greater of:

(1)  $10,000; or

(2)  an amount equal to 10 percent of the gross premium written by the title insurance agent or direct operation in accordance with the latest statistical report to the department but not to exceed $100,000.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.102.  Alternative To Bond.

(a) Instead of the bond required by Section 2651.101, a title insurance agent or direct operation may deposit with the department:

(1)  cash;

(2)  irrevocable letters of credit issued by a financial institution in this state that is insured by an agency of the United States; or

(3)  securities approved by the department.

(b)  The cash, letters of credit, or securities deposited under this section are subject to the conditions required for a bond under Section 2651.101.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.103.  Examination Of Loss Covered By Bond Or Deposit.

(a) At any time it appears that a loss covered by a bond or deposit has occurred, the department may require the title insurance agent or direct operation to appear in Travis County, with records the department determines to be proper, for an examination.

(b)  The department shall specify a date for the examination that is not earlier than the 10th day or later than the 15th day after the date of service of notice of the requirement to appear.

(c)  If after the examination the department determines that a loss covered by the bond or deposit has occurred, the department shall immediately notify the surety on the bond, if applicable, and prepare a written statement of the facts of the loss and deliver the statement to the attorney general.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.104.  Investigation By Attorney General.

(a) On receipt of a written statement under Section 2651.103, the attorney general shall investigate the charges and, on determining that a loss covered by the bond or deposit has occurred, shall enforce the liability by collecting against the deposited cash or securities or by filing suit on the bond.

(b)  A suit brought under this section shall be filed in the name of the department in Travis County for the benefit of all parties who have suffered any loss covered by the bond or deposit.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Subchapter D. Annual Audit

Section  2651.151.  Annual Audit Of Trust Fund Accounts: Title Insurance Agents And Direct Operations.

(a) Each title insurance agent and direct operation shall have an annual audit made of trust fund accounts. The agent or direct operation shall pay for the audit.

(b)  Not later than the 90th day after the date of the end of the agent's or direct operation's fiscal year, the agent or direct operation shall send by certified mail, postage prepaid, to the department one copy of the audit report with a transmittal letter. The agent shall also send a copy of the audit report and transmittal letter to each title insurance company that the agent represents.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.152.  Annual Audit Of Trust Fund Accounts: Title Insurance Companies.

(a) Each title insurance company shall have an annual audit made of trust fund accounts for each county in which it operates in its own name. The company shall pay for the audit.

(b)  Not later than the 90th day after the date of the end of the title insurance company's fiscal year, the company shall send by certified mail, postage prepaid, to the department one copy of the audit report.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.153.  Rules.

The commissioner by rule shall adopt:

(1)  the standards for an audit; and

(2)  the form of the required audit report.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.154.  Performance Of Audit By Public Accountant.

An audit required under this subchapter must be performed by an independent certified public accountant or licensed public accountant, or a firm composed of either.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.155.  Confidentiality Of Audit.

The commissioner may classify an audit report that is filed with the department by a title insurance company under this subchapter as confidential and privileged.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.156.  Failure To Receive Audit Report From Agents Or Direct Operations.

If a title insurance company fails to receive an audit report from any of the company's agents or direct operations in the specified period required by Section 2651.151, the company shall report that failure to the department not later than the 30th day after the expiration of the specified period.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.157.  Enforcement; Hearing.

(a) After notice and hearing, the department may revoke the license or certificate of authority of a title insurance agent, direct operation, or title insurance company that:

(1)  fails to furnish an audit report in the time required; or

(2)  furnishes an audit report that reveals any irregularity, including a shortage, or any practice not in keeping with sound, honest business practices.

(b)  The notice must be provided to the agent, the direct operation, or each title insurance company involved.

(c)  At a hearing under this section, the agent, direct operation, or title insurance company may offer evidence explaining or excusing a failure or irregularity.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section 2651.158.  Certification Of Unencumbered Assets. (a)

Unless the agent has elected to make a deposit with the department under Section 2651.012(f), the annual audit of escrow accounts must be accompanied by a certification by a certified public accountant that the title insurance agent has the appropriate unencumbered assets in excess of liabilities, exclusive of the value of its abstract plants, as required by Section 2651.012.

(b)  The commissioner by rule shall establish:

(1)  a procedure to be used to determine the value of categories of assets; and

(2)  the method by which the certification required by this section must be made which shall not include an audit of operating accounts.

Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1025, Sec. 15, eff. September 1, 2009.



Subchapter E. General Regulation Of Title Insurance Agents And Direct Operations

Section  2651.201.  License Surrender Or Forfeiture.

(a) A title insurance agent or direct operation may voluntarily surrender at any time a license issued under this chapter by giving notice to:

(1)  the department; and

(2)  the affected title insurance company.

(b)  A title insurance agent or direct operation that terminates the agency contract with a title insurance company automatically forfeits the license under that company.

(c)  A surrender or forfeiture of a license under this section does not affect the culpability of the license holder for conduct committed before the effective date of the surrender or forfeiture. The department may institute a disciplinary proceeding against the former license holder for conduct committed before the effective date of the surrender or forfeiture.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.202.  Trust Fund Account Disbursements.

(a) A title insurance company, title insurance agent, or direct operation may not disburse funds from a trust fund account until good funds related to the transaction have been received and deposited in the account in amounts sufficient to fund any disbursements from the transaction.

(b)  A title insurance company, title insurance agent, or direct operation is not liable for a violation of this section if the violation:

(1)  was not intentional; and

(2)  resulted from a bona fide error despite the maintenance of procedures reasonably adopted to avoid the error.

(c)  The commissioner shall adopt rules and definitions to implement this section.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.203.  Disclosure Of Ownership And Premium Information.

(a) A title insurance agent who receives a portion of a premium shall disclose to each purchaser of a title insurance policy or other title insurance form the following:

(1)  each shareholder, owner, or partner owning or controlling at least one percent of the agent;

(2)  each shareholder, owner, or partner owning or controlling at least 10 percent of an entity that owns or controls at least one percent of the agent;

(3)  each person who is not a full-time employee of the agent and who receives a portion of the premium for services performed on behalf of the agent in connection with the issuance of a title insurance form; and

(4)  the amount of premium that a person disclosed in Subdivision (3) receives.

(b)  The department shall prescribe the form of the disclosure required by this section.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.204.  Continuing Education.

(a) To protect the public and to preserve and improve the competence of license holders, the department shall require as a condition of holding a title insurance agent license that the license holder enroll in and attend or teach continuing education consisting of class instruction, lectures, seminars, or other forms of education approved by the department for title insurance agents.

(b)  The department shall prescribe the required number of hours of continuing education, not to exceed 15 hours in each two-year license period.

(c)  Continuing education instruction must be designed to refresh the license holder's understanding of:

(1)  basic principles and coverages relating to title insurance;

(2)  recent and prospective changes in those principles and coverages;

(3)  applicable rules of the commissioner and laws;

(4)  the proper conduct of the license holder's business; and

(5)  the duties and responsibilities of the license holder.

(d)  The department may permit a license holder to complete an equivalent course of study and instruction by mail if, because of the remote location of the license holder's residence or business, the license holder is unable to attend educational sessions with reasonable convenience.

(e)  On written request by the license holder, the department may extend the time for the license holder to comply with the requirements of this section or may exempt the license holder from all or part of the requirements for a license period if the department determines that the license holder is unable to comply with the requirements because of illness, medical disability, or another extenuating circumstance beyond the control of the license holder. The commissioner shall prescribe the criteria for an extension or exemption by rule.

(f)  The commissioner shall adopt rules to administer this section.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section 2651.205.  Title Agent Records.

(a) A landlord or storage facility, including electronic storage, that accepts possession of an agent's guaranty file or other records takes possession subject to:

(1)  the right of access of the title insurance company involved in the transaction that the file documents, during customary business hours, for the purpose of copying the guaranty file; and

(2)  the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of nonpublic information in the title insurance agent's records according to state and federal laws that govern the title insurance agent.

(b)  If the title insurance agent has been designated impaired, the Texas Title Insurance Guaranty Association has the right to access the guaranty files and other records of the title insurance agent, including electronic records, for 60 days from the date of impairment, during customary business hours, for purposes of copying those records.

(c)  Except for the right of access granted under Subsections (a) and (b), a lien created in favor of the landlord by contract or otherwise is not impaired.

(d)  For purposes of this section, "title insurance agent" includes an agent owned wholly or partly by a title insurance company and includes a direct operation.

Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1025, Sec. 16, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section 2651.206.  Examination Reports.

(a) An audit, review, or examination conducted under this chapter or Chapter 2602 must be conducted in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner.  The rules must provide:

(1)  that before a report from an examination, review, or audit becomes final, the department will furnish to the title agent or direct operation a copy of the report and any evidence on which the report relies;

(2)  a reasonable period of not less than 10 days after the title agent or direct operation receives the report and evidence from the department for the title agent or direct operation to respond;

(3)  an opportunity for an appeal under a process similar to the process under Title 28, Part 1, Chapter 7, Subchapter A, Texas Administrative Code; and

(4)  procedures to ensure that the report and any evidence regarding the report remain confidential and are transmitted only to designated representatives of the title agent or direct operation.

(b)  The commissioner shall furnish the title agent or direct operation with a draft of the report and a copy of any evidence not later than the 10th day before the scheduled date of a meeting requested by the department regarding a report.

(c)  This section does not require the department to turn over work papers.  For purposes of this subsection, work papers are the records of an auditor or examiner of the procedures followed, the tests performed, the information obtained, and the conclusions reached that are pertinent to the audit or examination.  Work papers include work programs, analyses, memoranda, letters of confirmation and representation, abstracts of company documents and schedules, and commentaries prepared or obtained by the auditor or examiner that support the opinions of the auditor or examiner.

Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1025, Sec. 16, eff. September 1, 2009.



Subchapter F. Title Insurance Company Powers And Duties Regarding Title Insurance Agents

Section  2651.251.  Examination Of Trust Fund Accounts By Title Insurance Company.

(a) A title insurance company may examine, at any time, the trust fund accounts and related records of the company's title insurance agents through the company's examiners or auditors or through independent certified public accountants commissioned by the company.

(b)  The title insurance company shall pay for each examination.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.252.  Special Reports.

A title insurance company may require special reports from the company's title insurance agents regarding any of its transactions.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.253.  Audit Of Unused Forms.

(a) A title insurance company shall periodically audit the unused forms in the possession of each of the company' s title insurance agents to determine that all used forms have been reported to the company.

(b)  A title insurance company shall conduct an audit required by this section at least once every two years.

(c)  A report of each audit conducted under this section shall be made to the department.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Subchapter G. License Denial And Disciplinary Action

Section  2651.301.  Grounds For License Denial Or Disciplinary Action. The Depa

rtment may deny an application for a license or discipline a title insurance agent or direct operation under Sections 4005.102, 4005.103, and 4005.104 if the department determines that the applicant or license holder has:

(1)  wilfully violated this title;

(2)  intentionally made a material misstatement in the license application;

(3)  obtained or attempted to obtain the license by fraud or misrepresentation;

(4)  misappropriated or converted to the applicant's or license holder's own use or illegally withheld money belonging to a title insurance company, an insured, or another person;

(5)  been guilty of fraudulent or dishonest practices;

(6)  materially misrepresented the terms and conditions of a title insurance policy or contract; or

(7)  failed to maintain:

(A)  a separate and distinct accounting of escrow funds; and

(B)  an escrow bank account or accounts separate and apart from all other accounts.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.



Section  2651.302.  License Application After Denial, Refusal, Or Revocation.

(a) An applicant whose license application has been denied or refused or a license holder whose license has been revoked under this subchapter may not file another application for a license as a title insurance agent or direct operation before the first anniversary of:

(1)  the effective date of the denial, refusal, or revocation; or

(2)  the date of a final court order affirming the denial, refusal, or revocation if judicial review is sought.

(b)  A license application filed after the time required by this section may be denied by the department unless the applicant shows good cause why the denial, refusal, or revocation should not be a bar to the issuance of a license.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1274, Sec. 6, eff. April 1, 2005.


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