Title insurance insures legal rights of ownership and possession of real property (land) and will defend the title for the property prior to the effective date of the policy.  It insures the policy holder against “defects of title,” such as forgery, fraudulent conveyances, undue influence on a previous grantor, unknown or missing heirs for property that passed through inheritance, grantors who were incompetent to act, incorrect legal descriptions, unsatisfied or unreleased claims, and many more unforeseen circumstances that may not be discovered from courthouse land records, as well as things a title examiner may miss.



Lenders demand borrowers purchase a lender’s title insurance policy for the face amount of any loan secured by real property. Lender policies are valid for the life of the loan and if the lender must foreclose, the title policy will protect the lender’s rights in the property.  If you refinance your loan, a new lender’s policy must be purchased, even if you refinance with the same lender. The lender’s policy affords no protection whatsoever to the borrower.



Virginia law requires that you be advised of your right to obtain an owner’s title insurance policy.  Unless you obtain an owner’s title insurance policy, your investment and equity in your property may be lost to a superior title which may, or may not, be reflected in the land records. When you obtain an owner’s title insurance policy you will pay a one-time premium, but that policy will continue to protect you even after you sell the property.



A standard owner’s title insurance policy covers you if it is later discovered that someone else owns an interest in your title, or against improperly executed documents, or against pre-policy forgery, fraud, or duress.  It also protects you against defective recording of documents; undisclosed restrictive covenants, previous liens on your title because of an unreleased mortgage or deed of trust, judgment, tax or special assessment, homeowners association charge, or unmarketable title. In the event that one of these problems is later discovered, the title underwriter, in our case, First American Title Insurance Company, will retain legal counsel to defend you, and if they cannot prevail, will pay your claim for damages up to the policy limits.  A Standard American Land Title Association (ALTA) owner’s title insurance policy protects an owner’s equity in the home up to the amount of the purchase price.



An enhanced owner title insurance policy provides enhanced title coverage for the owner. Although an enhanced (First American’s Eagle Policy) policy costs slightly more than a standard policy, it provides features that provide more protection to your investment including an automatic increase in the amount that will be paid as your home increases in value. An Eagle Policy covers everything listed under the standard ALTA owner’s title insurance policy.  In addition to the coverage listed in the standard policy, it also covers mechanic’s liens, forced removal of a structure which encroaches onto another property or an easement; forced removal of a structure which violates an existing zoning law*; forced removal of a structure because of a violation of a restriction in Schedule B of your policy; inability to use land for single family dwelling because of a violation of a zoning ordinance or a restriction in Schedule B of your policy; it pays rent for substitute land or facilities; rights under unrecorded leases; plain language; unrecorded easements; building permit violations*; compliance with the subdivision map act, if any*; restrictive covenant violations; maps, if any, that are not consistent with legal description; covenant violations resulting in reversion of the property to a previous owner; enhanced marketability; violations of building setbacks; discriminatory covenants; post policy forgery; post policy encroachment; post policy damage from minerals or water extraction; post policy living trust coverage for trustee; post policy living trust coverage for beneficiary; access-actual vehicular & pedestrian access based on a legal rights; post policy automatic increase in value up to 150%; post policy adverse possession; post policy cloud on title; post policy prescriptive easement; boundary walls and fence encroachment*; and insurance coverage forever.

Note: * Subject to a deductible and maximum indemnity liability, which may be less than the policy amount.

If you have questions concerning title insurance, you should call us and ask us to explain at (703) 354-0500.