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New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance Rules New Mexico Title Insurance Rates to Increase 10.7 Percent Effective August 1, 2009

HOUSTON (July 1, 2009) – The New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance announced June 30, 2009, that effective August 1, 2009, real estate title insurance premiums would rise by 10.7 percent overall. Additionally, the remittance rates from title agencies to underwriters increased from 19 percent to 20 percent for residential properties. A new rate schedule has yet to be released.

This ruling was based on findings of pre-filed testimony, direct testimony, facts of law and a rate hearing held in November 2008 and a final information hearing in the first week of June 2009. Testimony was received from consumer, regulatory and industry sources, and the New Mexico Attorney General's Office on behalf of consumers.

The findings stated, "The Superintendent has the responsibility to promulgate the premium rates of title insurers and title insurance agents for title insurance policies and the percentage of premium to be retained by title insurers. Premium rates promulgated by the superintendent shall not be excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory and shall contain an allowance permitting a profit that is not unreasonable in relation to the riskiness of the business of title insurance."

"After several years of increasing expenses, rising claims and declining real estate prices that reduce revenue, we are pleased with the findings of the New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance," said Mike Skalka, president, Stewart Title Guaranty Company.  "This increase will provide the financial input necessary to properly reduce risks inherent in real estate transfers and to insure the results of that work and maintain the necessary reserves and underwriter strength to defend policyholders and pay future claims. New Mexico title consumers can be assured their real estate ownership is protected by their title policies."

"Good news for consumers, the regulators in the non-rate portion of the findings adopted the New Mexico Land Title Association's proposal to shorten the number of standard boiler-plate exceptions on everyone's title commitment by one-third in order to create a title policy that was less complex, more transparent, and offering consumers greater protection,” said Stephen J. Rhodes, Vice President and New Mexico Underwriting Counsel for Stewart Title Guaranty Company. 

"The actions and leadership of the New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance are indicative of the critical recognition and importance of maintaining strength, liquidity and the ultimate protection of consumer's real estate investments," said Malcolm S. Morris, chairman and co-chief executive officer for Stewart Information Services Corp. "The home represents the major store of wealth for more than half of American households.  We congratulate the Superintendent's efforts in protecting the ownership of their real estate holdings, in maintaining underwriter strength and growing surplus."

"We believe these results are leading indicators of other states' current reviews of title insurance industry and the need to assure consumers of their ownership rights in real property," added Morris. "In non-regulated states, Stewart has been actively increasing our title rates. Critical in these rulings is the recognition of market cycles and the need to maintain a strong title industry throughout economic cycles."

About Stewart

Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC) is a customer-driven, technology-enabled, strategically competitive, real estate information, title insurance and transaction management company. Stewart provides title insurance and related information services required for settlement by the real estate and mortgage industries throughout offices in the United States and international markets. Stewart also provides post-closing lender services, automated county clerk land records, property ownership mapping, geographic information systems, property information reports, flood certificates, document preparation, background checks and expertise in tax-deferred exchanges. More information can be found at http://www.stewart.com.

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