2009 Legislative Update
Working with many other stakeholders, in the 2009 legislative session Think New Mexico drafted and Speaker Ben Lujan sponsored a package of reforms designed to make title insurance more affordable for New Mexico families.
The reform package included four major elements. First, rather than having the Superintendent of Insurance set a single rate for title insurance in New Mexico, the Superintendent would instead set a maximum rate and allow price competition underneath it. Second, the discounts available for homeowners who refinance their mortgages would be substantially increased. Third, the bill enhanced a number of consumer protections. Finally, the legislation included a first in the nation provision designed to reduce the cost of title insurance for New Mexico’s Indian nations, tribes, and pueblos when they buy land and transfer it to the federal government to be held in trust. (Read a summary of the final legislation.)
Think New Mexico’s title insurance reform legislation passed the New Mexico House 59-0, the Senate 39-0, and was signed into law by the Governor on April 3, 2009.
Title insurance is intended to provide a guarantee to buyers that the seller is giving them good title to the property – in other words, that the seller is truly the owner of the property, and that there are no other claims against the property such as mortgages, liens, building restrictions, or other encumbrances. Title insurance is required by banks before they will approve or refinance a mortgage, and it is one of the largest elements of closing costs.
New Mexico’s title insurance costs had long been excessive because in 1985, the title insurance industry drafted and won passage of a state law that required the state Superintendent of Insurance to promulgate a single rate schedule for all title insurers in New Mexico. In other words, it was impossible for homebuyers to shop around for less expensive title insurance in New Mexico because, by law, all the title insurers had to charge the exact same price.
In 2007, Think New Mexico launched an effort to reform New Mexico’s title insurance laws. We proposed three related reforms that would benefit consumers: first, allow the free market, instead of the government, to set the price of title insurance. Second, encourage lenders to leverage their market clout and purchase title insurance policies on behalf of their consumers. Finally, end the title insurers’ immunity from negligence liability. These reforms would save New Mexico homebuyers approximately $40 million annually.
Read Los Alamos Daily Post article about the successful conclusion of Think New Mexico’s fight to expand title insurance discounts • May 28, 2014
Read Santa Fe New Mexican article about Think New Mexico’s fight for refunds for homeowners who refinanced after May 1, 2009 and failed to receive the full discount on their title insurance policies • November 13, 2012
Watch a KRQE News 13 story about Think New Mexico’s fight for refunds for New Mexico homeowners who were overcharged for title insurance policies when they refinanced their mortgages • November 14, 2012 (2:27)
Read Truth or Consequences Herald article about the implementation of Think New Mexico’s title insurance reform law • January 19, 2011
Read Rio Grande Foundation blog post congratulating Think New Mexico for title insurance reform • April 3, 2009
Read syndicated columnist Jay Miller’s blog post on title insurance reform • March 13, 2009
Read Associated Press article on 2009 title insurance reform bill passing the House • March 7, 2009
Listen to KSFR Report on Title Insurance Reform Legislation • March 4, 2009 (mp3, 5:25)
Listen to KUNM Report on Title Insurance Reform Legislation • March 4, 2009 (mp3, 3:54)
Read La Jicarita News article on 2009 title insurance reform bill • February 2009
Read syndicated columnist Jay Miller’s column on Think New Mexico’s work • September 28, 2007
Read Las Cruces Sun-News editorials in support of title insurance reform • January 23, 2008 • September 30, 2007
These editorials were also printed in: the Alamogordo Daily News, the Carlsbad Current-Argus, the Deming Headlight, the Farmington Daily Times and the Silver City Sun-News
Read Rio Grande Sun editorial in support of Think New Mexico’s title insurance reform initiative • September 13, 2007
Read Santa Fe New Mexican editorial endorsing Think New Mexico’s title insurance reform initiative • September 9, 2007
Read Albuquerque Tribune editorial on Think New Mexico’s title insurance reform initiative • September 6, 2007
Listen to KSFR Report on Title Insurance Reform • September 4, 2007 (mp3, 3:35)
Read Think New Mexico’s opinion editorials on title insurance reform in Heath Haussamen’s New Mexico Politics Blog
Read letters asking Gov. Richardson to place title insurance reform on the 2008 legislative agenda from:
- Archbishop Sheehan,
- UNM Professor Dante DiGregorio,
- the Public Regulation Commission,
- Attorney General Gary King,
- Former Superintendent of Insurance Don Letherer, and
- Bill Enloe, CEO of Los Alamos National Bank and Title Guaranty, the first title company to break with the industry and support reform
Read Attorney General Gary King’s news release on New Mexico’s excessive title insurance rates
Resources for Homebuyers & Homeowners
Did you refinance a mortgage between May 1, 2009 and July 31, 2014? You may be due a refund! To determine whether you qualify for a partial refund of your title insurance costs:
(1) Contact your title insurance company and ask them what discount they provided when you refinanced, and how that was calculated. If you do not know who your title insurance company is, call the bank or lender that financed your mortgage and ask which title company was used for your refinance.
(2) If you received a lower discount than you should have, the title company should issue you a refund of your overpayment.
(3) If you experience any difficulties, contact the New Mexico Insurance Division. The Title Insurance Bureau can be reached at (505) 827-4536.