ALTA Develops New Tools to Aid Implementation of Best Practices

August 22, 2013

ALTA has updated its “Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices” and created additional tools to help title professionals confirm to lenders the policies and procedures implemented at their companies.

As a complement to the Best Practices, ALTA has developed a set of Assessment Procedures that can be used by title professionals to help lenders decide if a service provider meets different pillars of the Best Practices. A Certification Package also is available and can be used by title professionals to warrant and attest to lenders that they have implemented ALTA’s Best Practices.

“These important tools are designed to be objective and uniform and to provide a national standard that lenders can use to assess services providers,” said Michelle Korsmo, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “Our hope is this document will allow various companies to conduct assessments that will be acceptable to lenders because they are based on the standard assessment procedures.”

Frank Pellegrini, ALTA’s president, said it’s a title professional’s choice to have an assessment, but this is a proactive way for agents to show their lender customers that they are compliant with Best Practices.

“If you are waiting to get ready for a lender assessment to come, you are waiting too long,” he added. “The relationship between lenders and their service providers has changed and ALTA’s Best Practices framework can help prepare for an assessment and avoid potential disruptions in your order pipeline.”

The certification package includes a letter that states the title professional complies with the Best Practices, a certificate to show that he or she has passed an assessment and a copy of the agent’s errors and omissions insurance declarations page.

The agency representations and warranties letter can be used by title professionals to attest that they have implemented ALTA’s Best Practices. The letter also says the title professional will comply with the Best Practices for a 24-month period commencing at the date of the letter. The certificate can be used by title professionals to show that they have passed an assessment. In addition to the Assessment Procedures and Certification Package, ALTA has released an updated version of the Best Practices. The new version of the Best Practices, as well as the Assessment Procedures and Certification Package is the culmination of work and discussion by ALTA’s Best Practices Task Force, the Internal Auditing Committee, and the Board of Governors.

The updated Best Practices includes a handful of changes resulting from conversations with agents, underwriters, lenders, regulators and other stakeholders. The most significant change is the removal of the requirement to check employees’ credit reports in the section on escrow accounting and data security best practices. In addition, language across the seven pillars was modified to make it clearer and more consistent.

“We want the Best Practices to be reflective of industry needs, so we will continually seek feedback and make appropriate modifications,” Pellegrini said.

What’s Next

ALTA is creating a workbook for title professionals to help examine adoption of Best Practices and prepare for a company assessment. The workbook will expand on and clarify each of the Best Practices. It will ask agents questions in each of the assessment procedures to assist in understanding readiness for the Best Practices assessment.

“You can think of the assessment as the test and the workbook as the Cliffs Notes to help title professionals prepare for the test,” Korsmo said.

Finally, ALTA is working on completing tools to help members develop their own written procedures. The model creation tools will help guide agents as they create written procedures necessary to execute the policy of adhering to Best Practices.

ALTA expects to publish the workbook and model policy creation tool in August.

“As you can see, ALTA is working hard to provide tools to help all professionals compete in the marketplace,” Korsmo said. If you have questions regarding any aspect of the Best Practices, send ALTA an email at

Best Practices Education Opportunities

At 2 p.m. ET, Wednesday, July 24, Terrie Miller of H.B. Wilkinson Title Company and Alison Gareffa of Old Republic National Title Insurance Company will address the seventh pillar of Best Practices during the webinar titled “Best Practices – Resolving Consumer Complaints.” Miller and Gareffa will walk through how to develop a process for receiving and addressing consumer complaints is important to ensure that any instances of poor service or non-compliance do not go undiscovered. Click here to register.

To help you stay ahead of the curve on what lenders are looking for, we have nine professional development sessions dedicated to Best Practices during our 2013 Annual Convention in Palm Beach, Fla., at the Breakers. Here’s a look at a few of the sessions:

  • Escrow from Soup to Nuts: From set up to shut down, this session will cover everything you need to know about escrow including proper naming of the account, reconciliation, verifying the existence of fraud accounts, proper crime insurance and how to escheat funds. Come to this session to make sure your accounts satisfy the ALTA Best Practices.
  • Gaining a Competitive Advantage by Implementing a Clean Desk Policy: Speakers will provide information that will give you the ability to create a customized Clean Desk Policy specific to your organization.
  • Weaving the Threads of Title E&O: This session will discuss how title professionals can utilize current insurance market products to mitigate their financial responsibility risks. Attendees will learn about title agent E&O, cyber liability/data breach and escrow security bonds, and how to use these products most effectively within their agencies.
  • Trials and Tribulations in Enhancing Consumer Care: Panelists who have implemented Best Practices will share successes in modifying their processes and provide attendees solid take-aways that can be implemented in their operations.
Click here to get more information about the Annual Convention or to register. A preliminary schedule can be viewed here. As always, CE/CLE credits will be available for many states.

Additional Resources

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or

North American Title Insurance Company (NATIC) is a seasoned title insurance underwriter, helping title agents to achieve their individual business goals for more than 50 years. Today, the company conducts real estate settlement services in 39 states and the District of Columbia through a network of experienced, independent agents. SoftPro is the nation's leading provider of closing and title software, consistently pushing the technological envelope to pioneer the most powerful and comprehensive closing and title automation software on the market. SoftPro's Award-Winning Software combines cutting-edge technology with outstanding support to make your business more productive, efficient and boost your revenue.