Stewart Title Guaranty Company Announces Settlement
HOUSTON, TX (October 1, 2008) - Stewart Title Guaranty Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Information Services Corp (NYSE-STC), announced today that it has settled a $1,950,000 proceeding brought by the State of Washington’s Office of Insurance Commissioner (OIC) with a payment of $250,000.
In August of 2007 the OIC had issued a cease and desist order seeking to impose a fine against Stewart through an administrative hearing. By virtue of today’s agreement, the proceeding has been dismissed without any admission of liability from Stewart.
Stewart believes that the violations alleged were never prohibited by the OIC in any of its previous opinions or policy statements, nor were they prohibited by state or federal law. While Stewart believes it has conducted its business appropriately and has both legal and factual defenses to the OIC allegations, it has decided to enter into the settlement to avoid further distractions to its business and the time and expense of litigation.
Of great importance in today’s agreement, is the OIC’s formal declaration concerning its views of specific business practices. For the first time, the OIC has established concise ground rules on the subjects of co-advertising and desk-fee arrangements. These clarifications give concrete instructions to all industry participants in these heretofore ambiguous areas.
“I am glad the OIC has finally given the real estate industry here in Washington instructive guidelines on these very important topics,” said Bob Oakland, Stewart Region Manager covering Washington State. “Stewart has adopted a self-auditing compliance plan to insure adherence to these new rules. We look forward to continuing our work with the OIC, as we did throughout this process, to make regulations clear for the industry and transparent to the consumers of Washington. When the regulators and the industry can work together it is a ‘win- win’ for the consumers of Washington.”
About Stewart Title Guaranty Company
Stewart Title Guaranty Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of 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 through policy-issuing offices and agencies 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 www.stewart.com.