Title Litigation

long island real estate title attorneysLong Island Title Insurance Litigation Attorneys

Title insurance is a crucial one to have, enabling you to prove ownership of your property in the event of a challenge. Investing in this type of insurance provides you with the security of knowing that the title insurer will defend a claim against you in court and reimburse you in the event that you lose a court battle over title of your property. Those who fail to invest in title insurance are more vulnerable to lawsuits because many people are unable to pay the costs associated with defending title claims.

The real estate and title litigation attorneys at Roman & Piccinnini have extensive experience representing buyers and sellers in title claims litigation and perfecting title insurance coverage. Whether you’re facing a fresh claim, or wish to ensure the property that you are purchasing is free of encumbrances, let Roman & Piccinnini assist you in defending your rights.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is a policy that covers loss of ownership interest in a property due to legal defects in the title. Title insurance policies generally come in two types: owner’s policies and lender’s policies. A lender’s policy is the most common and is paid for by the buyer. However, this type of policy protects the lender and does not cover the buyer of the property. Owner’s title insurance is an option that will protect the buyer’s equity and is paid for by the seller. If a property is subject to a mortgage, title insurance is required.

Unlike other types of insurance policies, like auto insurance or health insurance, where the policy is designed to protect against future occurrences, title insurance is designed to protect against past claims , such as forgery of title documents, fraud, easements, and any other event specified in the insurance policy.

How Does One Obtain Title Insurance?

Typically, an escrow or closing agent commences the insurance process once a property purchase agreement has been executed. In the U.S., there are 5-main title insurance underwriters. The escrow agent or attorney typically chooses which insurer to go through. There is generally little for a buyer or seller to do in these instances.

When title insurance is obtained, the title agency will search public records for anything related to that property, such as records of who has bought or sold the property in the past, and whether there are any levies or liens attached to the property. In some cases, filing errors or undisclosed heirs may cast doubt as to the true owner of a property, but are difficult to identify in a title search. This is where having insurance can help down the road.

What Does Title Insurance Protect?

For lenders, title insurance policies mean that a title search has taken place and the lender is protected against losses related to claims against the property. For owners, an issued policy means the same thing, but the buyer is protected from losses associated with claims of ownership.

Without title insurance, a new owner will be responsible for all expenses and damages related to claims against their new property. Protection typically extends to losses up to the value of the property or policy limits.

What Causes Title Insurance Litigation?

Even when a comprehensive title search has been conducted , there are certain things that could have occurred in the past that clouds the actual identity of the true owner(s) of that property. These occurrences can include things like:

  • government liens
  • mechanics’ liens
  • an estranged family member selling the property out from under another rightful family owner
  • unrecorded easements
  • lack of access to the property

The title insurance litigation team at Roman & Piccinnini have experience in resolving disputes regarding:

  • Quiet Title Actions
  • Title Defect Litigation
  • Title Irregularities
  • Easement and Access Disputes
  • Title Conveyance Issues
  • Adverse Possession, Encroachment, And Trespass Claims
  • Title Insurance Coverage Claims
  • Escrow Claims
  • Title Claim Investigation
  • Breach of Option Agreements
  • Mechanics’ Liens
  • Surveys and Boundary Disputes
  • Restrictive Covenants
  • Right of First Refusal Claims
  • Defalcation Actions
  • Validity and Priority of Liens
  • Mortgage Fraud and Forgery
  • Property Flipping Litigation
  • Agent Error and Omissions

How Does a Title Insurance Case Begin?

Typically, aggrieved individuals will institute a “quiet title claim” to establish their rights to the property and to force the current owner to prove their claim to the property. When such a claim is made, a new title investigation is usually initiated and the boundaries of the property are determined using a land survey. If it is determined that you are unlawfully in possession of the property, you may be forced to vacate and/or pay damages. Depending on your insurance coverage, you may or may not be reimbursed for such losses. For this reason, it is crucial that you carefully read title insurance documents to understand what and what is not included in coverage. For example, issues related to adverse possession or prescriptive easements may not be included in title insurance coverage.

If someone is challenging your legal claim to your property, in order for your insurance company to defend and indemnify you, you must provide notice of the claim within the time limits specified in your insurance documents. There is no automatic duty to indemnify you. First, the insurance company must undertake a timely investigation into the adverse claim and determine whether coverage applies. Sometimes, an insurance company cannot make this determination in a timely fashion and you may be forced to pay out of pocket in advance before they assist you. In the worst case, you must pay to defend your claim and end up having to give up your property. If that is the case, and the insurance company determines that your claim is valid, they will have to pay for your relocation costs and possibly certain other losses.

How Roman & Piccinnini Can Help

Our practice is structured to aid you with any type of real estate litigation. We take pride in tailoring our approaches to your specific needs. Whether your situation calls for negotiation or litigation, we are dedicated to being proactive in the fight to protect your rights. Our attorneys are renowned not only for their strength, but for their successful, innovative strategies. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Roman & Piccinnini, PLLC serves clients throughout Nassau County, Suffolk County, The Hamptons, and New York City.