ALTA Best Practices

The American Land Title Association (ALTA) has created best practices in seven key areas to highlight policies and procedures the title insurance industry exercises to protect lenders and consumers, while ensuring a positive and compliant real estate settlement experience. While these best practices are not intended to cover all aspects of the settlement process, they do focus on promoting quality service, providing for ongoing employee training and meeting the legal and market requirements for the day-to-day operations of Lincoln Title.

Best Practice 1: Licensing & Business Registration

It is the policy of Lincoln Title to comply with all licensing laws and regulations in all states in which we operates. Lincoln Title has in place the following controls:

  1. Lincoln Title is properly registered to do business in the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is currently in good standing in both states.
  2. Lincoln Title holds current title insurance producer (firm) licenses in the State of Maryland (No. 99949635) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (No. 744752).
  3. The following Lincoln Title employees hold a title insurance license in the State of Maryland:
    Kent N. Oliver (No. 41401)
    Elizabeth F.Z. Bryan (No. 99949637)
    Melanie A. Donaldson (No. 3000088203)
  4. The following Lincoln Title employees hold a title insurance license in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
    Elizabeth F.Z. Bryan (No. 698078)
  5. Lincoln Title holds a valid appointment with the Security Title Guarantee Corporation of Baltimore.
  6. Lincoln Title holds a current ALTA Policy Forms license (ID No. 1036366).
  7. Lincoln Title verifies licensing and registration for the company and its employees on an annual basis.
Best Practice 2: Trust Accounting

The protection of our client’s funds is an integral part of what we do and is mandatory both to protect our clients and our company from financial harm. Compliance with the following procedures is strictly held:

  1. Separation of Funds
    a. Escrow/trust and operating funds are not commingled and remain in segregated accounts.
    b. All accounts, including the escrow/trust and operating accounts, are maintained in Federally Insured Financial Institutions.
  2. Identification of Held Funds
    a. Each file is assigned a unique sequential number for identifying purposes. This number is included on all escrow/trust checks and deposit slips.
    b. A separate deposit slip will be prepared for each file.
  3. Reconciliations
    a. On a daily basis, all receipts and disbursements are reconciled with the fiduciary bank account activity online.
    b. Monthly, an escrow trial balance is prepared, which lists all open escrow/trust balances.
    c. A three-way reconciliation of all escrow accounts is conducted on a monthly basis. The reconciliation will be reviewed by a manager unassociated with the receipt or disbursement functions.
    d. Legible copies of all checks, wire documentation, deposit slips and other receipt items will be readily available, upon request, from the fiduciary bank.
  4. Other Controls
    a. We will utilize the following fraud controls as offered by the fiduciary bank: Positive pay or reverse positive pay and ACH and international wire blocks.
    b. Lincoln Title conducts criminal and public records background checks on all employees with access to customer funds at least every three years.
    c. Employees receive regular training in proper management of escrow/trust funds, trust accounting and identification of fraud.
    d. Only authorized employees have access to Lincoln Title’s escrow/trust accounts and all trust account controls are audited by management on an annual basis.
Best Practice 3: Information and Data Privacy

Lincoln Title has adopted the following policies and procedures to protect Non-public Personal Information (NPI) as required by local, state and federal law.

  1. The client areas are physically separated from employee office space. All clients and/or vendors are accompanied through employee office space.
  2. Employees are prohibited from removing company files and/or information by paper or portable memory device, unless specifically authorized by a member of the management team.
  3. On secure methods of transmitting client NPI are used.
  4. Lincoln Title has a written Privacy Notice which is distributed to its clients. NPI is shared with third parties and affiliated or related parties in accordance with our Privacy Notice.
  5. Physical files are maintained in a secure location when not in use and are disposed of in compliance with applicable state and local law.
  6. Commercially acceptable network security barriers and monitors are in place on all company hardware/software.
  7. NPI is transmitted by secure means.
  8. Lincoln Title has an established Disaster Recovery Plan that ensures adequate back-up, recovery and business continuity procedures.
  9. A program is in place for the proper notification of security breaches to our clients and law enforcement.
    1. On an annual basis, Lincoln Title employees are provided, and acknowledge receipt of, a current Acceptable Use of Information Technology Policy┬Ł.
Best Practice 4: Settlement Policies & Procedures

Every settlement performed by Lincoln Title is conducted in accordance with the instructions of the lender, seller(s), buyer(s), borrower(s) and/or the title insurance underwriter. The following policies and procedures ensure a safe and compliant settlement process:

  1. Settlements are conducted in accordance with lenders closing instructions, as applicable, and all closing instructions are collected in writing. This includes loan payoff instructions.
  2. Final closing and settlement statements and closing disclosures reflect actual receipts and disbursements made on behalf of the parties.
  3. All title insurance rate calculations are made through the underwriter’s online rate calculator or rate manual and a written record of the rate calculations are maintained in each closing file. All available discounted rates will be charged.
  4. A disbursement sheet detailing all receipts and disbursements is maintained in each closing file. All closing files will have a zero balance.
  5. Any overpayment of fees, including rate premiums, is promptly refunded to the client.
  6. Valid identification is collected and reviewed by all parties to the settlement.
  7. Lincoln Title ensures that all funds received are good funds.
  8. Ensure that all title insurance commitment requirements are satisfied prior to or at closing.
  9. All documents are submitted or shipped to the proper recording office for recording within two business days of settlement. All documents shipped or sent for recording are tracked and proper recording of documents is verified and maintained in the closing file. Any rejected recordings will be corrected within two business days.
Best Practice 5: Title Insurance Policy Production

At Lincoln Title, we produce, deliver and remit every title insurance policy and underwriter premium in a method that is compliant with closing instructions and our contract with the title insurance underwriter.

  1. Final title insurance policies will be delivered to the client within thirty days of closing or thirty days of satisfaction of the terms and conditions of the title commitment.
  2. Policies are reported to the underwriter and remitted with the premium within ninety days of closing.
  3. Title insurance policies are issued in accordance with underwriting guidelines established by the underwriter and signed by an employee appointed by the underwriter.
  4. Lincoln Title maintains a master title policy log, which includes all identifying information.
  5. In the event of an alleged claim, we will respond promptly to customer and underwriter requests for information.
Best Practice 6: Professional Liability and Fidelity Coverage
  1. Lincoln Title maintains professional liability insurance in the amount of no less than $1,000,000.00. We determined this amount is appropriate given our company’s size and complexity and the nature and scope of our operations; the amount is not less than the amount in our company’s underwriting agreement(s). We review our coverage and endorsements on an annual basis to ensure it is still appropriate and reflects the type and nature of our current business.
  2. Lincoln Title maintains a fidelity bond policy in an amount of not less than $150,000.00. We have reviewed both state law and our Policy Issuing Agreement with our underwriters to verify that our coverage meets or exceeds their respective requirements.
  3. Our company possesses surety bond coverage in an amount not less than $150,000.00 as required by law in the states in which we operate.
Best Practice 7: Consumer Complaint Resolution

Lincoln Title has established the following procedures with respect to handling of consumer complaints:

  1. Lincoln Title has a written procedure to process consumer complaints.
  2. Complaints will be handled in a timely, effective, fair and consistent manner.
  3. Elizabeth Bryan has been designated to receive and document all complaints. Clients will be contacted directly and provided with the contact information for Mrs. Bryan.
  4. All consumer complaints, and their resolution, are retained in writing.
  5. Consumer complaints and the resolution thereof are shared with our staff in order to provide training and avoid similar complaints in future.

We would like to hear your compliment or criticism of the service you received at Lincoln Title. If there is something you would like us to know, good or bad, please send us your feedback.

Mrs. Elizabeth Bryan
301.791.9228
ebryan@lincolntitlemd.com

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