Jul 19 | 2016

We have your back

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IntegrityIntegrity. It’s a loaded word. It’s also one of FCT’s core values that we don’t take lightly. To me, doing business with integrity demonstrates to customers that we say what we mean and we mean what we say.  It says that we stand behind our coverage and are there with the support customers need when they have a claim. It’s about having the reserves in place and the overall financial stability to be able to pay our claims.

In fact, our claims-paying ability is what sets us apart from many of our competitors. Customers rely on the coverage they purchase and we rely on our in-house underwriting experts to always try and find a way to say “yes” to coverage. Otherwise, it’s just lip service and frankly, that’s just not what we’re about.

Our goal at FCT is to protect our diverse customers to the best of our ability. We see a lot of cases where a lender policy has been ordered on a transaction but a homeowner policy is not ordered at the same time. When a title issue arises some time later, a homeowner will call to inquire about their coverage only to learn that they don’t have protection as there is only a lender policy. In most of these situations the homeowners would have received coverage but were not afforded this opportunity due to the simple fact that a homeowner policy was not requested at the time of order.

To prove how committed we are to “having your back,” we’ve added a new member to our existing underwriting team that already boasts some of the most experienced professionals in the industry.

Not only does this individual bring solid experience as legal counsel with insurance litigation firms, a membership in the Barreau du Québec and the Law Society of Upper Canada, but also a perspective that coincides with the FCT ideology — he believes in helping people. Funny story: when he joined our team, he was impressed by our approach to paying claims; describing the difference of finding a way that he could say “yes” to the claim.

I realize I may be slightly biased, but I think we’re the best in the business for a reason: we care and we’re ready, willing and able to help when you need us to. It’s that simple.

Do you have a story to share where FCT came through for you when others said “no”? I’d love to hear it. Please feel free to comment below.

Jul 8 | 2015

It’s time for British Columbia to see the value of title insurance

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house_foundation_smallWe are taught early on that saving money always makes good sense. But what makes more sense to you: saving a few hundred dollars on your home purchase by opting out of a title insurance policy, or saving $80,000 to re-pour your foundation? Hmmm, let’s think about that one for a minute…

A story out of British Columbia recently caught my interest. It is a contentious tale about a couple in Langley that has taken issue with the township after having to move the entire foundation of their dream home as the original was situated on their neighbour’s property.

Frankly, this type of story frustrates me as there is a very simple solution: having your client purchase a  homeowner title insurance policy along with the lender policy. I have personally approved claim payments for more than $80,000 in situations similar to the one that this Langley couple is facing. In fact, one of the risks covered by a homeowner’s title insurance policy is the risk that the homeowner will be forced to remove or remedy any of their existing structures because they encroach onto their neighbour’s land. This is exactly what happened to the Pett family.

In other provinces, both the owner and the lender are title insured in approximately 90% of all residential real estate purchase transactions. The lender policy protects the validity, enforceability and priority of the lender’s mortgage on the title; the homeowner policy protects the homeowner against losses associated with title fraud, survey and title issues/defects, as well as challenges against their ownership. Title insurance is unlike traditional insurance products — it does not just cover things that may happen in the future (e.g. title fraud), but also, title defects that have already occurred in the past, prior to purchasing the home, like this situation where the foundation was poured on the neighbour’s property.

However, in British Columbia (B.C.) it is less likely that the homeowner will obtain a title insurance policy —often there is only a lender’s title insurance policy in place. But for a relatively modest extra one-time premium (in some cases as little as $50) a homeowner can enjoy the benefits of a title insurance policy when purchased in conjunction with a lender policy. Yet for some reason, many legal professionals and homeowners still think title insurance is simply for lenders.

In many provinces, including Ontario, licensed legal professionals must discuss all options to protect a homeowner’s interest in title. This is not the case in BC and as such, B.C. consumers continue to be shortchanged when it comes to making informed decisions to protect their interests. While FCT has made significant progress concerning the education and awareness of title insurance in right across the country, clearly more remains to be done.

Let’s hope that the word continues to get out and we won’t see another situation like this one in Langley any time soon.

 

Feb 10 | 2015

Frozen in Winnipeg: When you just can’t “Let it go….“

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Like most new homebuyers, Tim and Brittany Gietz were excited when they purchased their first home in the cozy St. James neighbourhood of Winnipeg in August of 2013. At the same time, they purchased a homeowner’s title insurance policy from FCT.

“My dad is in the mortgage lending business, so I have heard a number of stories over the years about homes that had hidden problems. I wanted to make sure that I had the best protection for my investment, so we bought a homeowner’s title insurance policy,” says Mrs. Gietz.

frozenpipe_small3The first year in their home there were no surprises. However, after a particularly cold spell last winter, their pipes froze solid and their home was anything but “cozy.” The contractor called in to thaw the pipes promptly instructed them to contact the City of Winnipeg. While dealing with the pipe issue, the City provided them with a copy of a building permit dated in 2012 that outlined approval for an 84.5 square foot addition to the front of the existing dwelling. But the addition was never built, despite the permit. Why?

After further investigation, the Gietzes learned that the City had issued a bylaw violation, which required the previous homeowners to repair plumbing and electrical work, as well as an improper stair guard leading to the basement before the addition could be constructed. The floor joists and foundation also required major structural repairs. The City now demanded the Gietzes comply with the bylaw violation within 14 days otherwise face potential legal action.

The bylaw violation notice from the City triggered coverage from FCT because the homeowners were being forced by a governmental authority to remedy an existing structure because it was built without a required building permit.

FCT hired an engineer to complete the report on structural repairs to the floor joists and foundation. In the summer of 2014, work began on the home to fix the foundation, plumbing, electrical and structural issues. This work was paid for by FCT. During this major renovation, Tim and Brittany had to move out of their home for over three months while the work was being completed Thankfully, all temporary housing costs were also covered under their FCT policy.

Let go of the hassle and stress with help from FCT

Before the end of 2014, the Gietzes got word from the City of Winnipeg that the final inspection was completed and the bylaw violation was closed. They moved back in to celebrate Christmas 2014 in their safe and newly renovated home.

“For a couple of hundred dollars, paid once when we bought the home and no annual premium, we realized a significant benefit. Without the team at Castle Mortgage Group to inform us about the great insurance program that FCT has, we would have ended up with debt that we could not pay off for years. I cannot even imagine having to come up with the money to complete such a major renovation only months after purchasing the home. FCT fixed our home and provided us with a housing allowance while we were displaced. Since this has happened, I have now joined the team at Castle Mortgage Group and make sure to always recommend that our clients purchase this insurance.” – states Mrs. Gietz.

*FCT refers to the FCT group of companies. Insurance by FCT Insurance Company Ltd. Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products.