FAQs for Agents
Frequently Asked Questions about the Agency Data Call
We know that there are many questions about the Data Call. Find answers and ask questions here!
If you are looking for answers to your Data Call questions, please REVIEW the questions and answers below. If you don't find the answer you need, you can submit your question(s) by selecting the underlined link next to the related line number from the Data Call report. We'll post answers based on the knowledge we have gained over the two plus years of working with the Office of Insurance Regulation in developing the Data Call. Please be patient. There are only a few SMEs (subject matter experts) for this topic and it does take time to research and properly answer these questions. We will post answers as quickly as possible.
Please note the following abbreviations used in the FAQ section:
The Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”)
The Department of Financial Services (“DFS”)
A. Historic Data - Data from Years Prior To 2014
Check FAQs (first) Submit NEW Question Years Prior to 2014
B. General Information-Lines 1-15
C. Agency Information-Lines 16-29
D. Risk Assumption - Lines 30-38
E. Income - Lines 39-49
F. Expenses - Lines 50-82
G. Direct Agency Loss Expenses Line 83-90
H. Loss Avoidance Expenses - Lines 91-98
1. Do they really want four years of past data? Where will I get this?
2. Should we include the prior four years of data at the same time we submit the 2014 report?
Going forward, as suggested by industry advisors, you will be asked to reconfirm, and, if necessary, update your prior five years’ data. Therefore, in 2016, you will submit data for 2015 and you will be asked to reconfirm the data submitted for the prior five years (2010-2014). You will also be asked to indicate any changes to your data.
1. If we have two offices and one operates as corporate and one as a DBA, should we submit two reports?
1. In Line 19, what are they asking for when they request “Affiliated Business Names”?
1. Line 37(a) asks for the number of Line 32 that were not sale/purchase closing transactions. Does this include leasehold policies which insure the "purchaser" of the leasehold?
2. Line 37(a) asks for the number of transactions that were not sale/purchase transactions. How do we characterize a sale transaction in which we are insuring only the lender's interest? i.e. The purchaser declines owners coverages or has acquired it from another source simultaneously (both pretty rare).
3. Line 37(c) asks for the number of Leasehold Transactions included in 37(a). Is this intended to reflect only policies insuring a lender to a leasehold, or policies in which we insure the person leasing a property?
1. What does Line 48 “Rebate Amounts” include?
1. What are they getting at in lines 60, 61 (a)-(b) and 62?
We understand that many title agencies purchase searches and access from other parties, including, for example, reQuire and Reliable Lien Search, Inc.. These fees should be reflected in Line 61a (Abstract/search expenditures with third parties), since it is a search which does not contain requirements. Some agencies acquire what amounts to an old fashioned abstract, a list of the documents in the chain, and copies of those instruments. Other searches also include suggested requirements and/or exceptions, based on the searcher’s review/examination of the documents. We need to better understand how this difference in business models affects the costs of operating an agency, and that is the distinction being drawn.
2. What is the difference between lines 61 (“search”) and 62 (“examination”)?
The cost of the examination of the documents compiled in the search is found in Fla. Stat. § 627.7711(b), under the definition of "Primary title services", where it refers to an "evaluation of a reasonable title search".
Although some in the industry refer to the search and examination interchangeably, and while it is true that some states (Texas, for example) define “examination” to include the search, Florida Statutes narrowly define the term “search”.
It is understood that, during the search, decisions are made as to which documents are relevant and which are not, and that such decisions might be considered an examination. This on-the-spot decision making as to which documents to include in the compilation should be included within the definition of “search”.
So, Line 61 deals with two types of payments: part a) encompasses payments for searches where the agency receives only the documents compiled by the search; and part b) encompasses payments for searches where the agency receives the type of search reflected in a) AND suggested exceptions and requirements for the commitment (sometimes referred to as a “pro-forma commitment”).
Line 62 deals with payments to third parties who examine a search done either by the agency or by another third party.
3. Where do we reflect fees that a title agency may pay to outside companies and/or local and community municipalities for search services in connection with matters such as utility liens, city/county assessments or Mortgage and Lien Release searches?
4. What should be included in Line 68 "Business Legal"? Does that include the costs for the lawyer we have on staff who assists in closings, escrow questions and functions as our general counsel?
This category is intended to reflect the cost of obtaining outside legal counsel for corporate, business, HR and other matters not directly related to defending a title or closing claim.Costs incurred in defending a specific closing or title claim should be reflected in Line 87.
5. What portion of my FLTA and ALTA membership and attendance at programs may I allocate to Line 73 "Employee and Owner Education"?
Based on that, we think it is appropriate for an agency to allocate 50% of its membership dues and 50% of the cost of attending FLTA/ALTA and similar conventions as an educational expense.
Note the travel and lodging relating to attending educational and other programs are not included here, but are separately reported on Line 72.
1. Do I really need to allocate the time devoted to each of those categories shown on Schedule B? I'll spend more time figuring out how to report the time spent on "Fissionable Materials" than we actually spent doing the evaluation!
The subcategories designated by letters or Arabic numerals are for illustration only. Their hourly costs, or percentages of time spent on those items, do not need to be recorded. That said, that information would be quite helpful to OIR in determining agency costs, so feel free to include it.
2. When reporting on Schedule B, are we to show the base salary or the fully loaded labor cost?
3. The job tasks of certain people in my office don't fit into these categories. The accountant, the receptionist, the janitor and even managers aren't directly involved in the day-to-day of Search, Exam, etc. How should their labor costs be allocated on Schedule B?
4. Must we keep an itemization for the breakdown of Schedule B as backup?
The OIR is aware (and even states in the current directions for the Data Call) that a portion of the reported information may be determined by reasonable good-faith estimates made in accordance with the instructions to the data submittal form, but, of course, we'll receive better results with actual numbers. Plus, it may be helpful to implement such data collecting strategies now, as we at FLTA would not be surprised if future Data Call submissions require concrete numbers.
Finally, you are probably already keeping some of this information, in keeping with Fla. Stat. § 627.7845(2), which states, in part, that "the title insurer shall cause the evidence of the determination of insurability and the reasonable title search or search of the records of a Uniform Commercial Code filing office to be preserved and retained in its files or in the files of its insurance agent or agency for a period of not less than 7 years after the title insurance commitment, title insurance policy, or guarantee of title was issued. The title insurer or agent or agency must produce the evidence required to be maintained by this subsection at its offices upon the demand of the office." Examples of that information include HUD forms, determination of insurance, substitution and reissue rates and records of requirements for incorporating exceptions.
5. Where should I allocate time:
-----when I call the underwriter for advice on a title matter?
-----when discussing with closing officer questions relative to commitment matters?
------when reviewing with a consumer a specific requirement on the title commitment which must be addressed or resolved at closing, such as issues relating to restrictions on road maintenance agreements or easements?
-----to review the trust?
-----to update the title commitment?
-----to complete the form to request a title update (updating the commitment prior to closing) and emailing the closing officer?
-----to make copies of B2 Exceptions on the commitment for the consumer?
-----to compose and send letter or to phone parties to acknowledge receipt of a new order?
-----when working on a canceled file (making sure that I have a zero ledger in the file; returning all original documents to the customers, such as original death certificates and owners policies)?
-----for pulling copies of documents to be examined?
1. Who must submit Data Call information?
2. Why are non-agent attorneys who transact real estate not required to report?
Secondly, we knew that the lawyers’ information would skew the results because, almost always, their title work is so intertwined with their law business that would be very difficult to separate all the costs. For example, an attorney may consider that he or she was already paying for the office, the copier, phones and electricity, and so decide that the cost of providing title services was half a paralegal and a few Fed-Exes. Alternatively, an attorney may divide all their expenses by all their revenue, including the costs of the very well compensated partners.
Therefore, it was determined that it was better to set rates on the relatively pure business numbers of licensed title agents.
3. How will we know that the Office of Insurance Regulation received the reports we submit in 2015 and beyond?
4. How do I contact the OIR and the DFS?
DFS maintains an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for questions, and any inquiries regarding the Data Call will be passed along to the OIR. An official site for Data Call questions will be established.
FLTA has also established a link to its Data Call FAQs page (FLTA Data Call FAQs).
5. How was the Data Call exempted from the public information “Sunshine” law?
-----Q: Has the exemption been tested in the courts?
-----Q: What assurance can you provide to protect this information if tested and overruled in the courts?
A: We at FLTA consider it unlikely that the statute will be challenged, and even less likely that, if challenged, it will be overturned.
6. Where do we show estoppel fees?