North American Adopts ALTA's Principles of Fair Conduct
On September 18, 2007, ALTA launched "The Title Industry Consumer Initiative," which details the association's five-point strategy for improving industry oversight and educating and protecting consumers. The initiative was developed in response to the recommendations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a report it issued in April 2007.
The Title Industry Consumer Initiative includes a consumer education program, the adoption of "Principles of Fair Conduct," plans for member education on regulatory compliance and ethical standards, and a plan for working more closely with state and federal regulators to ensure that the title industry is meeting the needs of consumers.
The thrust of ALTA's Consumer Initiative is to help consumers make informed choices when it comes to title insurance and title-related services. ALTA has developed a consumer Web site, www.homeclosing101.org , which provides an overview of the closing process and explains the purpose of title insurance including the process of the title search and repairing title defects. The site also describes how consumers can shop and compare prices. Since North American has always emphasized the importance of consumer education, we took the lead in posting a link to this site on all our websites as soon as it was released to ALTA members.
Another major component of ALTA's Consumer Initiative is its newly adopted "Principles of Fair Conduct," which state what ALTA expects of its members. The Principles are as follows:
1. to engage only in business practices that are lawful and consistent with a high standard of ethical behavior;
2. to encourage a culture of compliance with their organization for federal and state laws that govern the title insurance business and for these Principles;
3. to treat consumers in a fair and ethical manner;
4. to provide consumers with timely and comprehensive information regarding their policies, services, products and prices so as to enable consumers to shop effectively among providers of title-related services; and
5. to encourage and assist consumers to be educated purchasers of title insurance and title-related services.
After reviewing these Principles, it became very clear that North American has, and has always had, policies and procedures in place that promote and foster the professional conduct outlined in these Principles. This is why today, February 26, 2008, we officially adopt the Principles and join a growing list of over 80 companies across the United States that have decided to make the Principles not just a code of conduct, but a way of life.
If you would like any further information on the Principles, please visit the ALTA website at www.alta.org and click on the ALTA Consumer Initiative tab.